Roadhouse Rendezvous ISBN: 9781515162094 Creative Space Independent Publishing, First printing 2015. Copyright and written by Hal Savage,
The author has put together ten rather unusual stories, two labeled as novellas. The first, entitled “The Woman across the Hall” is one of misinterpretation of body language while most of the others deal with some form of mystery, crime and/or detection with also a missing persons, a sick practical joke tale and one of revenge.
Discussion: From this reader’s point of view the collection is unique in that the stories are rather unusual with some dark turns that lead to somewhat unexpected endings. The 4th, 5th and 10th are perhaps the best detective stories and the 9th is as labeled “One Dumb Stunt”, but to reiterate, all terminate unusually and several strain credibility to a degree.
4* A collection of unusual stories.
APEX, A Max Algren novel ISBN: 9781543966428 Design and Production by Book Baby. Copyright and written by Ryan W. Aslesen.
Max Alegren, a former Special Forces, CIA, and now private operative is still attempting to avenge the death of his family but requires another name for his ‘hit list’. Congressman, former General Marklin, for whom he works sporadically, has such a name but will not provide it until Max has accomplished a seek and extract operation for a senator’s son who has disappeared. He encounters a rather weird young woman reporter who is interested in the situation and manages to be helpful enough to join him. Together they deduce where the young budding geneticist is probably being held. It is an island in the infamous “Devil’s Island” group owned by the French Government. Indications are that it also is under control of a dangerous geneticist who has escaped other missions to apprehend him. The French closely guard all evidence of the island’s existence which is rumored to house dinosaur-like creatures and even more vague tales of a hunting area where humans can be hunted for a million/day. Max assembles his team from former acquaintances and the story proceeds at break-neck speed, with only an occasional ‘break’ to provide pertinent material.
Discussion: The author is a former Marine officer and now security consultant as well as “a bestselling writer of military science fiction that is both authentic and replete with intense action and suspense”. This volume is another in the same pattern. The only regrettably negative aspect, and possibly from this reader’s overly developed pragmatic perspective, is a degree of discomfort mostly with parts of the action and the realities of weaponry, its supply, usage and results which in this volume seem to have moved, unfortunately, into the realm of difficulty with respect to credibility. But to reiterate, this could be as a result of many years spent in very practical activity.
3* Most enjoyable but providing an unfortunate personal impression as explained.
The Broadcast, an e-book published, copyright and written by Liam Fialkov.
Plot: The author has provided an interesting plot that is quite closely allied with thoughts arising from Erich von Dänilien books. However as provided, little description of the plot may be set forth without a ‘spoiler alert’ for presenting too much of it and/or its component parts. Briefly however, the story centers around a series of blockbuster broadcasts that at first present photographic evidence of situations that lead to solving ‘dead case’ murders. It then switches to documentary productions of historic events that the producer states gradually will go back to zero AD. As these latter increasingly reveal graphic descriptions of well-known/accepted factors of history, mounting pressure is exerted against their production by both Christian and Muslim groups who fear revelation of various activities that may be contrary to their long held beliefs and/or teachings.
Characters: Leading characters include Jonathan and his brother Walter, who as small children had been put up for adoption when their family was killed in a car crash. Walter was fortunate in being adopted by a loving family, well-educated and became a well-known TV producer. Jonathan became the product of several foster families and was only variously educated. He was intelligent and extended his education into several areas, however. Jonathan’s wife Sarah, disowned by her family for becoming pregnant at sixteen (actually raped) was sent from St. Louis to Phoenix where she delivered a baby that was taken from her at the convent causing her endless remorse. McPherson is an award winning journalist who believed the productions by Walter were phony and set in motion an attempt to expose them. HH a former debatably crooked cop who had served time and now was a bitter, occasionally vicious PI. Michael, a young adopted boy who is hired by Walter and plays an increasing part in the story. Numerous others who play roles of varied importance. Additionally, Jonathan and Sarah’s large, heavily forested area of residence contains an unusual portion that also plays an important part in the tale as the plot advances until it gradually reaches a fitting finale.
Discussion: As described, the story begins with the TV’s Hype for the unusual clip that had come into Walter’s possession that reveals the perpetrator of a twenty-five-year-old murder, followed by similar before switching to the historical documentary productions. The method of provision is to quite constantly switch between scenes with intermediate chapters. 1 – the TV hype; 2 – a chapter describing Johnathan and Sarah; 3 -one of Sarah; 4 – the Broadcast; 5 – Johnathan; 6 – the Broadcast; 7 – Michael; 8 – the Broadcast, etc. This approach does provide important bits and pieces of the story and the interrelationship of numerous characters as they move inexorably toward the finish. Unfortunately, the format results in a large amount of repetition and/or redundancy that if removed, would greatly enhance the progression of an intriguing story. Some, more prosaic, readers may find a little difficulty in accepting some character activity and many will find character development sketchy. Some will find the ending ‘proper and emotionally satisfying’ while others may believe it to be a little too ‘pat’.
3* 4* For fascinating story; -1 at least for numerous hiccups as described.
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.