NEXUS ISBN: 9781543981551 assumed published, copyright and written by Ryan W. Aslesen.
In this new addition to the popular Max Ahlgren series, Max is continuing to attempt to discover and eliminate, in as painful manner as possible, the men who had murdered his wife and son. During this continuing process, he is asked to help a new FBI agent to continue her assignment to deliver a brilliant Israeli Scientist, his young son and his tremendously advanced scientific achievement in Artificial Intelligence to a safe house outside of Washington, D.C. Margaret Leet, the new agent, along with her more experienced partner were attacked while waiting for a delayed flight at Los Angeles Airport. Her partner had been killed, but she, the scientist and his son temporarily were safe until Max’s arrival. They again set out only to be attacked repeatedly by supposed friends as well as foes. The action escalates in the manner usually provided by the author’s novels to an interesting conclusion seemingly much more philosophical in its content than usual before preparing the reader for the next book in the series.
Discussion: The author, well-known among thriller aficionados, has provided another high octane thriller again featuring the indestructible Max Ahlgren. The action, in a less usual manner, is slowed somewhat with a portion describing dreams similarly suffered by most service men who have participated in heavy combat. Also, a considerable amount of time is spent discussing the fact that “dynamite, TV and the Internet –each created for betterment of mankind and for peaceful purposes, instead now are instruments of murder and mass control” because “The wisest and kindest intentions don’t matter when greed and narcissisms become involved.” These latter features, as applied to the plot of the story, actually add another worthwhile dimension to the content of the ongoing series.
4* thriller but 5* for added dimension demanding serious thought.
The Voice of Death assumed published, copyright and written by Lawrence J. Epstein.
The reader is introduced to Danny Ryle, the protagonist, as he is being asked by an old friend of his father to ‘do-away-with’ a man who had stolen his wife. It seems Danny’s father, now infirm with a caretaker, had been the best at eliminating unwanted persons. So good in fact, that he never had been caught and was known as ‘the Ghost’. Danny, however, although extremely clever and a card-carrying congressional investigator specifically hired by a very wealthy member of the House, will do nothing unlawful. But, because the man asking Danny the favor is such a good friend of his father’s, he is asked by his father to at least speak to the wife stealer. They leave, enter the building where the supposed man is attending a New Year’s Eve Party and Danny is greeted by his beautiful wife Hannah. His father and the friend enjoy the joke they have played and with this background material for readers unacquainted with the characters, the tale begins. We discover that Danny and Hannah are raising Jennifer, a small child orphaned when her parents died in a horrible accident. They are attempting to make the child’s life as normal and full of love as is possible. Unfortunately, Hannah formerly had been in a marriage that did not work out and the ex- suddenly appears and proves to be a scumbag. He never signed the final papers, although he had said he had. He had an ulterior motive and wanted her back and would use the law if necessary, because she and Danny had committed bigamy. He is killed and Hannah is the most likely suspect. At the same time, Danny’s congressional boss similarly is the most prominent suspect in the death of his not overly attractive, but very wealthy wife. The story unfolds as he gradually attempts to solve these murders in order to save his wife and his employer. While thus engaged, he also encounters a woman who just won a huge lottery jackpot but has a unique problem that only he, with his strange set of acquaintances, can solve. The ending is not easily predictable and interesting.
Discussion: This is a fascinating mystery, or mysteries, filled with intriguing characters that keep the reader on the edge of his/her seat until the end. It is a mystery lover’s tale that even a pragmatist can enjoy in spite of the frequently encountered bits bordering on incredibility.
5* Mystery lover’s tale with a caveat.
The Complete Collection of Short Stories assumed published, copyright and written by Paul Michael Peters.
The book contains eighteen short stories on various subjects created between 2012 and 2018. It opens with an overriding opening quote from Jean Paul “Memory is the only paradise from which we cannot be driven.” The opening story, Hickory Switch, is a quite fascinating look at human frailties when faced with a momentous decision. The second, Fukushima Gold, an interesting story about the fallout from the atomic residual. The 3rd, 4th and 5th are stories from the mind of James Hollins, more easily recognized as “Mr. Memory”. He was born with synesthesia, an unusual condition in which the senses cross and interconnect. Some experience an ability “to taste words, see music or feel smells”. One ability is rare, two are extraordinary. Holland had multiple connections. Thus, “he remembered everything about everything” even to the smallest detail. The first tale introduces the man and his abilities. The second is tied to the once extremely well –known song made particularly famous by Nat King Cole and dealing with the Great War in Poland and attempts by smaller countries to exit soviet dominance. The 7th an interesting ‘take’ on Robots and AI. 8th a tale that looks at transfer of human frailty to an AI component. 9th interesting look at the importance of performances of ‘small helpful activities’. And the stories continue for a total of 18 with 17 an amusing tale of ‘sanctuary’ and 18 another short treatise that follows another strange train of thought. A series on the Devil explains a simple fact that “you can’t kill the devil without facing your own hell.”
Discussion: The author has a very fertile mind that often proceeds in rather unusual directions. It is a book that will be most enjoyed by readers who have similar thought patterns. The book’s offering of largely short, self-contained subjects makes it excellent reading for the person who finds him/herself with short intervals of ‘time-on-their-hands’.
4* Of special interest to similar thinking individuals.
May Cause Drowsiness and Blurred Vision ISBN: 978732721616, published, copyright and written by Gloria Squitiro.
This is an autobiographical segment in the life of a woman of Italian birth, happily married to a man who is a brutally frank auditor who attacks waste in government budgets – Mark Funkhouser, politician, author, former Auditor, then elected Mayor of City of Kansas City, MO. She, like Mark, is adamant about seeking the truth about her areas of interest; e.g. a freelance (unattached to any hospital) individual providing knowledge and aid to couples before and during childbirth after experiencing 2 caesarian sections that seemingly were unnecessary. Her birth children are a son and daughter and she has others she has attracted because of her nature. The story covers a period preceding her husband’s run for Mayor starting with a somewhat extended trip to Europe with the whole family as well as a period following their return.
Discussion: The author has initiated “The C’mon Funk Series” with this first volume that is sub-titled “The side-effects of bravery”. Here, she has set forth a no-holds-barred look at her unvarnished truth seeking evaluation of a number of factors and situations from her brave but confessed quite hypochondriacally slanted approach to life. It provides both humor and bits of poignancy from a realistic viewpoint that seems to be quite congruent with her husband’s thought processes. In her own words: she “has an INFJ (Introverted, intuitive, Feeling, Judging) personality. She is an advocate. She is a dreamer who takes concrete steps to realize her goals and make a lasting positive impact. Helping others is her purpose in life, but not through charity work. Her real passion is to get to the heart of issues so people need not be rescued at all.”
5* Fascinatingly amusing approach to life fascinating for many readers.
King of the Blind ISBN: 9780980689488 Matrayah Media, 2018 Australia, written by Caiseal Mor.
The author opens his tale with a few words from a very wise old man who once told him there was “a way to avoid all of the trials and tribulations of mortal existence. Those who know this secret are always merry and forever blessed with good fortune. They are well-loved and welcomed.” He further instructed that “if you carry a pocketful of this magic ingredient with you, you’ll never go hungry and you’ll never want for laughter, music and good company. The secret that unlocks all these wonders is a simple one. Gratitude.” The author further states “This is the story of a man who learned how to be grateful.”
The tale then is presented of Turlough O’Carolan, purportedly the most famous of harp players of the 1700’s, an era when such travelling entertainers were much in demand. Actually, this is a story within a story as told by Turlough’s faithful servant who had accompanied him on his travels for many years. It includes quite precise descriptions of the devastating stages and effects of the often encountered Small Pox disease which had blinded Turlough; quite complete descriptions of various houses and dress of the day; Harps of the time compared with more modern versions; the gradually increased influence of music from the continent; the Irish involvement in many insurrections; involvement of the ‘Good People’ who only the English would designate as ‘Fairies’; and more.
Discussion: This is a charming Irish tale replete with whisky, blarney-tinged facts, stories hinting of the fallacies of Bonnie Prince Charles and his battlefield inadequacies as well as those of other Kings; the inter-relationship of the King’s soldiers and the rebellious Irishmen; humor; music and a romance of sorts. All contained in a tale which takes too much time ‘in the telling’. However, if it were shortened, it wouldn’t be an Irish tale.
5* Charming blarney tinted tale of music, mirth, history, romance.
Seeds of Slavery ISBN: 9781733303323 Abura Publishing copyright and written by Joseph F. Baiden.
This is a novel based upon many true events that frequently occurred and re-occurred during the days of slavery. The plot follows a number of individuals as they proceed through their various parts in this tale of the nefarious trade. It opens by introducing one of the intended slave buyers. He is a London brothel owner, on board a ship headed for the Gold Coast of Africa where he kills his partner in the intended action during an altercation. The ensuing activity describes: His subsequent actions to bring a cargo of slaves to America – attainment of a new partner, involvement with the British Governor of the African nation through whom he is provided sub-contractors along with his further activities. The sub-contractors’ long standing joint relationship is provided along with development and consequences of their actions and their effect on the overall plot. Another sub-plot follows the relationship of a man and woman of interior Africa who are in an illicit relationship by which they are caught-up in the slaving activity. Then there is a ship captain who strictly adheres to the rules of the sea as they apply to others but not himself, a first mate who is uncertain in his position, a second totally inefficient second mate, numerous other shipmates, slaves and assorted other characters. The plot slowly follows these numerous characters through to the volume’s end which is where it began – at sea.
Discussion: In spite of the rather rambling nature of this journey, a reader finds a certain amount of fascination in the characters as they stumble through their individual parts. And even the book’s ending makes one wonder what will have happened to them since termination of this volume.
4* Activities of an assembled group of disparate, but often somewhat alike characters.