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.

The SHEEP RISE UP

The Sheep Rise UP ISBN: 9781481716444, Author House, a novel copyright and written by Mitchell Graye.

Kristen O’Hara, General Counsel for successful Enterprise Company is informed by Peter Preston, the President, that they are having both short and long-term financial problems that will necessitate severe restrictions on salaries as well as declaration of regular dividends to the stockholders. He also, in his usually overbearing manner, attempts to coerce her into issuing a supportive statement of this need that she realizes is not true. Her handling of this difficult ethical problem obviously places her in a precarious position. The results of refusing the request could place a strain on her finances as a single mother with a daughter in college as well as her other usual expenses. Compliance no doubt would severely damage her long-term career and financial security. She decides that ethically she must, and does refuse his request. Upon her refusal, he attempts to initiate a campaign that casts her in position of being at fault. He is aided in his activities by Richard Axel, the company’s V-P who is part of Preston’s plans. Upon appearance of an article in the WSJ of the company’s rumored problems, Frank Atwater, partner in a prestigious law firm, calls. He had been her mentor as well as boss, helping her with her career until she had left for the position with Enterprise. After a few meetings she tells Frank what has happened and with help from a retired, unusual PI whom Frank had known for years, begins to reveal a complicated series of activities that include establishment of unlisted deposits on the other side of the country as well as others offshore, interspersed with setting up a number of subsidiary companies as well as employment of a clandestinely well-known assassin. With assembly of a congressional SEC hearing, the fraudulent activity is demonstrated to include a number of others involved in this matter of fraudulent activity that entailed a total of several billion dollars.

Discussion: The author has set forth a surprisingly engrossing tale that is more than just a story of fraudulent activity within a large company. The basic plot and accompanying activity of such deviousness is knowledgeably well presented, BUT it is captivatingly enclosed within a rapidly paced, suspenseful thriller. Highly recommended.

5* Fast-paced, knowledgeably written, fraudulent security tale within a suspenseful thriller.

Red Flag

RED FLAG A modern Air Combat Novel assumed published, copyright and written by Mike Solyom.

Before the story begins, an opening statement by the author explains that during the Vietnam War the U. S. Air force discovered that pilot’s chances of survival were dramatically greater after completing ten combat missions. Thus, simulated air combat and other unexpected conditions exercises were created to teach new pilots. They were called Red Flag operations. This is a fictional tale about one such test. The story opens with a pilot and Weapon Systems Officer flying a F/A-18 F Hornet from a carrier in the Pacific. They witness a most unusual performance by a strange UFO, now more politically correctly referred to as UAP, or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena about which the pilot, nicknamed ‘Digger’ Graves, sends a message to the Carrier and lines up possibly to engage. He receives orders not to do so. He continues following, however, until suddenly it just stops from its running velocity of some 600 mph. Digger moves quickly to avoid hitting it and moments later it dives straight down. They are flying over the Magellanic Deep, one of the deepest trenches in the world. No one knew what was at the bottom. Instruments sent down to investigate had never returned and manned attempts regrettably suffered the same fate. Digger radio’s it’s disappearance to the Carrier and is told to return to base. He tells Chute, his Weapons System Officer in the rear seat, he has seen this before and that it will be scrubbed from their records when they arrive back at the carrier, so not to argue when mechanics come in to confiscate any of their equipment. Chute says O. K. but tells Digger “I got it all here” and holds up a thumb drive. From here the story switches to the Red Flag operation that includes pilots from several nations including Greece, Egypt, India, Russia and several other countries engaged in fighting the insurgent Caliphate, a war in which America has decided they should not participate. However, two experienced American pilots are ‘on leave’ form the Air Force and are working for a secretly established CIA unit as ‘private contractors’ so they can participate in fighting against the Caliphate. The story proceeds by following the Red Flag operations with a most interesting relationship developing between the Russian Ace and the similarly experienced CIA pilot and strengthening when the UAP makes an unexpected appearance wreaking havoc on the Red Flag exercise.

Discussion: This is a tale quite obviously written by a highly knowledgeable man with respect to modern aircraft, their design, faults and capabilities. It also is a tribute, as well as description of the intense amount of training necessary to successfully operate these deadly flying computers, as well as to the almost instantaneous mental adaptations that must be made by these pilots. The book is very well-written and should be enjoyed not only by those devoted to stories of Aliens, UFO’s (ATP’s), thrillers, war, flying, or any similar, but from this reader’s perspective also is a book any type of reader may learn much about modern warfare that so constantly is thrust upon our minds. As a most interesting aside, the author also has included a very enlightening observation with respect to Russian thought that is not apparent to most unacquainted with their culture. The Russian pilot in conversation with his American counterpart states: “The people and the government are not always the same. I am absolutely loyal to my countrymen as they are to me. But my government is capable of very dishonorable things. They only care about their powerful allies and benefactors. Not the people.” His American counterpart is somewhat astonished: “Russians had always baffled Lee. They were such different people with a culture that only superficially resembled his own. He could never get a grasp on why they acted the way they did and why they always insisted on being so adversarial. But this he understood. Family always came first. It was more important than the whims of people who happened to be in power.” He then recalled a statement made by the American humorist Mark Twain: “The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing. It is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to. Institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death. To be loyal to rags, to worship rags, to die for rags, to worship rags – this is loyalty to unreason, it is pure animal. It was invented by monarchy. Let monarchy keep it.”

Summary: A fast-paced, interesting and from many aspects even most thought provoking novel from the creator of the Century City Series.

5* Fast-paced, many faceted, thought provoking novel. Highly Recommended.

The Lottery Winner

The Lottery Winner assumed published by, copyright and written by Heru Asaramo.

The story introduces Jacob, adopted son, along with another, Jason, sometime later and a younger also adopted sister Myra. The children’s birth stories are horror tales in themselves, Jacob’s birth mother was a heroin addict, father, recipient of a 50 year prison sentence for killing a cop on a botched robbery. Jason was born of a drug addict who hung herself and the newborn was discovered only by accident and was suffering pneumonia that weakened his entire immune system. Jason died affecting Jacob deeply, even extending into his adult years. Myra’s story was similarly dismal. The adopting parents, Maria and Drake Gilferd, are a couple of entrepreneurs with successful businesses, a beautiful home and all associated possessions. They were unable to have children but felt the desire for them. Unfortunately as demonstrated, they are as casual and unthinking with their selection as they are in their personal lives. Within a few short years they are overextended with all credit cards maxed out, and a severe market decline ends their high living. The bank foreclosed on their home and they are forced to move to an apartment in a depressed neighborhood where Drake still continues to make irrational decisions. Thus Jacob and Myra must adjust from the early years of affluent living to that of near poverty and the parents do not make the situation easier. Before adopting them, the couple had decided they would not raise children to believe they were ‘entitled’. Thus, they not only are strict disciplinarians – Maria “a hard-nosed military breed” (4th generation former Marine) – Drake also a former Marine now an analytical chemist, but now make the children  targets for constant ridicule at school for their manner of dress. Because of their continued irrational monetary over extensions, money is scarce and they insist upon dressing the children in their selection of clothing from Goodwill. The story continues with more difficulties constantly being encountered so by the time Jacob reached twenty years of age, he had absorbed much of his father’s beliefs about the world’s evils and injustices superimposed upon the unrealized psychological baggage he carried. He began to mentally withdraw from the world. The tale continues and ultimately he does buy a ticket and win the largest Lottery distribution in the state’s history and the story moves into another unexpected phase with an unusual result providing a basis for the expected next book to be published. Further detail would be a disservice to prospective readers.

Discussion: At the very end of the book the author provides a “Note to the reader: I put my heart into this work. I truly hope you enjoyed.” This reviewer has quoted the author’s words because his effort is recognized and appreciated and must be taken into account when reading the following remarks. The entire premise upon which this story is based is most interesting and reminiscent of a somewhat similar theme introduced over sixty years ago and made into an award-winning movie three years later. It also contains many sections in which a reader can become thoroughly engrossed. Additionally, the author has exhibited an excellent knowledge of quite disparate entities. Top-of-the line automobiles, clothing, wines, cuisine, as well as attendant personnel and surroundings. Contrarily, the structure and management of correctional institutions for the most hardened criminals, their culture, structure and activities. Unfortunately character development is inconsistent and most regrettably from this reviewer’s perspective, a judicious editing is required to raise this story to the position it deserves.

3* 5* Fascinating, knowledgeably presented information; -2 regrettably, as discussed.

The Night Drop

The Night Drop Resistance in the Marshlands, published copyright and written by Ian D. Wright.

This is a most interesting story within a story that perhaps is a little difficult to describe but fascinating to read. Briefly, the story opens in a small village in Northern France in 1965 with a young woman awakening from a horrific dream from her earlier days as part of a group of courageous local residents who were resisting the Nazi invaders. The remote area was of premier importance to both the Germans and the Allies because the Nazis were building a launching site for the newly improved V2 ‘buzz bombs’ that were wreaking havoc on England. Obviously, information about the site was of extreme importance. Her husband comforts her, and although she does not want him to leave, he must go to see an old friend to attempt finally to discover and expose the real person responsible for her dreams and more importantly, a possible eruption of a situation that could be highly disruptive to this rather provincial enclave of reclusive neighbors. Specifically, a former resident many believed to be the enemy agent responsible for deprivation and deaths among the residents during the war, was returning purportedly to prove his innocence. Jack, the husband of the young woman described above, travels to London to see his old friend Martin Yates, now editor of a trendy magazine in London, who obtains the services of two highly respected Investigative Reporters to help Jack’s investigation which provides the book’s main ‘mystery theme’ –  an attempt twenty years after the war to discover and bring to justice the person still living and responsible for the distrust, deceit, deception, treachery and betrayal that increased the local residents fear, deprivation and even deaths as well as those of so many of the small group of resistance fighters who sacrificed so much in the effort. The series of activities by these courageous freedom fighters aided by two professionals dropped in to help in the closing days of the war are included in the ensuing pages so as to present a ‘war thriller’ within the content of the ‘mystery investigation’ that is the main theme of the book. Briefly and partially repetitiously, the protagonists are Jack Ross and Sophia, a lovely and courageous girl who at 14 was a valiant and seemingly fearless member of the resistance. Jack, a 24-year-old member of the British military who is sent into this northern area of interwoven rivers, streams and marshlands with Roland Keene, an American Special Ops member to obtain information about the V2 construction site. Steve and Emily are the investigative reporters Yates sends over to help Jack find the long unidentified Nazi agent. A number of other characters also perform at varying levels of importance. Most prominent and responsible for the investigation are brothers Remy and Gilbert of the local Fournier family. The two are diametrically opposite and constantly at odds with Gilbert the parental favorite. Remy, the younger brother leaves only to resurface again after the war starts. Gilbert, a disliked and only partially trusted member of the resistance group, disseminates his belief that Remy is a spy. Twenty years later Gilbert is dead and Remy, now quite ill, returns to ‘prove his innocence’. The town’s hostilities again resurface and is the reason Jack, Sophia, Steve and Emily attempt to bring closure to the long smoldering situation.

Discussion: To reiterate, this is a somewhat difficult to present, quite involved, story within a story that provision of more details would be a disservice to the prospective reader. Suffice it to say, that it provides tales in both the ‘war thriller’ and ‘mystery’ genres that should satisfy devotees of either or both.

5* Historical; especially for devotees of ‘war thriller’ and/or ‘mystery’ tales.