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As of 28 February 2016, due to decline in my health and chronic illness

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A LONG TIME DEAD by Andrew Barrett_Review

A Long Time DeadA Long Time Dead by Andrew Barrett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review of A LONG TIME DEAD by Andrew Barrett

A LONG TIME DEAD is forensic-noir, starring a protagonist who is a CSI [formerly SOCO] for the West Yorkshire Police. Roger Conniston is “a man with a mission,” a man who is an imperfect individual, yet one with his own high moral code. His sense of integrity has in the past led him to report a superior, Inspector Weston, whom Roger believes to be a gun-runner. Weston got off with barely a slap on the hand, and has targeted Conniston ever since. In his role as a forensic investigator, Roger is neither police nor civilian, neither fish nor fowl, and his reporting of Weston has cost him friends even in his own department. Yet he perseveres, even to the extent of being framed for murder.

The author, Andrew Barrett, is a CSI for Yorkshire Police, and brings a clear understanding of the details of forensic investigation and the politics of a police department. A LONG TIME DEAD is the first book in his Roger Conniston trilogy.


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Thursday, March 9, 2017

THE DARKNESS OF EVIL by Alan Jacobson_Review

The Darkness of Evil (Karen Vail, #7)The Darkness of Evil by Alan Jacobson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of THE DARKNESS OF EVIL by Alan Jacobson
(Karen Vail #7)

THE DARKNESS OF EVIL is the seventh in the series of FBI Special Agent (Behavioral Analysis Unit) Karen Vail. In this engrossing thriller, Vail is “hand-holding” (in the view of her unit commander) Jasmine Marcks, the woman who as an adolescent repeatedly informed local police that her father Roscoe was a serial killer. Finally investigated, charged, and convicted, Roscoe Marcks has been incarcerated in maximum security for the past seven years. Now Jasmine's nonfiction book detailing her life with a murderous father has been published, and simultaneously she receives threats, while Roscoe engineers a prison escape. Vail is in the midst of the new investigation, despite an arrogant U.S. Marshal who holds no approbation for the FBI.

There's plenty of violence, of course, since Marcks is a sadistic killer, but it's not gore for its own sake. THE DARKNESS OF EVIL is a well-constructed, tautly-written page-turner.


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Thursday, February 9, 2017

THE PRICE FOR HARMONY by Jeffrey M. Thompson Jr._Review

The Price For Harmony (Duke Bradley Mysteries Book 2)The Price For Harmony by Jeffrey M. Thompson Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of THE PRICE FOR HARMONY
By Jeffrey M. Thompson Jr.
[Duke Bradley P.I. #2]
This series revolving protagonist John Marion (“call me Duke”) Bradley, former FBI Special Agent for 17 years, now a Private Investigator (“Private Eye-not Private Detective”) and his love interest and cold-case partner Special Agent Shriya Thakur constitutes what author Jeffrey M. Thompson calls “Gray Noir.” His vision of Akron, Ohio is just as bleak and desperate as the perspectives of Ross MacDonald, Dashiell Hammett, or Raymond Chandler, with the exception that even in the midst of poverty, economic depression, political mishaps, homelessness, and human greed and covetousness—hope still remains. There is light, somewhere, to be found.

In my review of THIRTEEN YEARS OF DUST, I admitted how much I like the protagonist, Duke Bradley (even if he is an unreconsituted “old school” male) and love the series. THE PRICE FOR HARMONY is every bit as intriguing. Author Thompson fearlessly takes on some big topics: transgenderness, Satanism, medical black market, homophobia, and again, alcoholism and alcohol recovery. He hits all the stops and keeps the reader entertained as well as fascinated. Don't miss this series—whether you are a fan of the usual Noir or not.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

THIRTEEN YEARS OF DUST by Jeffrey M. Thompson Jr._Review

Thirteen Years of DustThirteen Years of Dust by Jeffrey M. Thompson Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of THIRTEEN YEARS OF DUST by Jeffrey M. Thompson Jr.

THIRTEEN YEARS OF DUST is the debut installment in the Duke Bradley P.I. Series. Let me caution you, Constant Readers, that Duke is in a category all his own, and so is this mystery. Duke is not Lew Archer nor Philip Marlowe. He is an alcoholic, currently not practicing (nearly two years sober), who uses mantras (chanting) to cope with all the various triggers that formerly drove him to alcohol and still would if he gave in. He's also wry, dry, humorous; and considers himself the alpha male. Above all, never rag on his hat, or he'll never forgive you.
Duke is a former FBI Special Agent, and late in the book when he reveals why he is “former,” it will break your heart. Now as a “Private Eye,” Duke is broke, about to be evicted from his office/home, and desperate to solve a case cold thirteen years and claim the reward. But it's not just the cash; Duke somehow internalises a case, and has an unparallelled solve rate.
The mystery(ies) here are so twisty and convoluted that unless you are a psychic reader you will not see them unfolding until they do so. THIRTEEN YEARS OF DUST is heartwrenching, exciting, absorbing, and made me want more Duke Bradley adventures to read. Fortunately, his second, THE PRICE FOR HARMONY, is available.

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Friday, February 3, 2017

THE BLOOD OF EMMETT TILL_Review

The Blood of Emmett TillThe Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

THE BLOOD OF EMMETT TILL by Timothy B. Tyson

THE BLOOD OF EMMETT TILL is a tremendously important and terribly perturbing work of nonfiction. Intensifying the perturbation and pervasive grief, even now, 61 years in the future, is that the Emmett Till tragedy occurred. This is not a work of scary fiction; this is real.

In August 1955, a fourteen-year-old Chicago adolescent traveled with family to visit relatives in Mississippi. He eventually returned, but not alive. For shortly after his arrival, he was abducted from the home of his cousins, at night, and murdered. His “failing”? He may—or may not—have addressed a white woman.

The author, Timothy B. Tyson, is a Ph.D. In American History, who as a child experienced a public murder of a black male by a white male, in his own home town. In this book, his clear-eyed understanding of history, particularly pre-Civil Rights Movement history, not only in Mississippi and throughout the South, but also in segregationist Chicago, vividly portrays life as it existed for African-Americans, 90 years after the end of the Civil War. The political antics, white-supremacy interests, and fear above all of “miscegenation” or “mongrelization” during this era are revealed as historian Tyson turns over the rocks of deceit, betrayal, and race rage. Certainly contemporary conditions are far from ideal, but the Jim Crow Era here brought to life should sicken and dismay every reader. The murder of Emmett Till was wrong on all counts, but one of its consequences was to ignite the fires of Civil Rights and propel the Movement that has brought some changes.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

TWO EMPRESSES by Brandy Purdy_Review

Two EmpressesTwo Empresses by Brandy Purdy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of TWO EMPRESSES by Brandy Purdy

On the Island of Martinique in 1779, Vodoun rules the native population, while the white European planter class consider themselves to be the top caste. Two young girls, daughters of planters, Rose and Aimee, are cousins, but wildly divergent in personality and character. Rose, the elder, is just as wild as the hurricane during which she was born, while Aimee is mild and a follower. When the Voodoo Queen predicts the girls shall become “Two Empresses,” neither is certain of belief, but Fate, in which Rose is a complicit believer, has in mind for both girls lives they could not possibly have predicted.

TWO EMPRESSES is a diligently-researched and strongly-imagined recreation of an era lost to us two centuries earlier. Lyrical and sensual, this is a vivid and compelling fictional history in which both characters and historical periods come alive.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

PHANTOM LIMB by Lucinda Barry_Review

Phantom Limb: A Gripping Psychological ThrillerPhantom Limb: A Gripping Psychological Thriller by Lucinda Berry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: PHANTOM LIMB by Lucinda Barry

PHANTOM LIMB is a psychological suspense novel focusing on a set of emotionally intertwined twins. Elizabeth and Emily had a totally horrendous early childhood, offspring of a mother absent emotionally and physically, both neglectful and abusive. Although the author doesn't detail specifics, enough is revealed to make it clear that the twins suffered terribly. By age seven, when rescue finally occurred, the damage was permanent. As adults, both twins still suffer mentally and emotionally.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Review_WRITERS ON WRITING OMNIBUS by Various Authors, Ed. By Joe Mynhardt

Writers on Writing Vol. 1 - 4 OmnibusWriters on Writing Vol. 1 - 4 Omnibus by Joe Mynhardt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WRITERS ON WRITING OMNIBUS VOL. 1-4
By Various Authors

Although I am not a published author, I have been a widely voracious reader for six decades, and a sometime writer. I adore reading books on the writing process. Doing so, I think, improves my reading capacity and draws me closer in understanding to authors.

I'm delighted to review Crystal Lake Publishing's new WRITERS ON WRITING OMNIBUS, a compact collection of advice and how-to, provided by authors and editors who are familiar with the processes of writing, self-editing, proofreading, editing, formatting, and self-publishing and traditional publishing. These women and men have all "paid the dues," suffered and celebrated, sacrificed and rejoiced. (Hopefully, none has been "down to the Crossroads" to do a deal for fame and fortune.) Nonetheless, the dues are paid and they've enjoyed success, but will be the first to tell you, writing--and succeeding--is always an ongoing process.

The beauty of this omnibus volume is the plethora of excellent and pointed writing advice, offered in a series of essays. Read what you need at any given time, or settle in for a longer read if you wish. It's all time well spent, whether you are a beginning writer, an accomplished author, or a reader looking for a closer view of the writing process.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Review: MONARCHS by Alex Chu

MonarchsMonarchs by Alex Chu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

MONARCHS by Alex Chu

MONARCHS is a suspenseful and surprising thriller, set primarily in New Jersey and New York City, with a side venture to modern Shanghai. A disgruntled worn-out call center rep receives a bizarre spam email, offering to fulfill his wildest dreams of wealth and status--in return for a human sacrifice. Arriving at his down point, the offer is neither faux nor fraudulent, catapulting Logan into an entirely new realm of possibilities. But the "one" sacrifice is never sufficient--until Logan's dilemma magnifies, and he crashes and burns. From that point, the thriller becomes more of a self-help exposition, as Logan determines to take charge of his own life.

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Review_A GLITCH IN THE SYSTEM by Adam Aust

A Glitch in the SystemA Glitch in the System by Adam Aust
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: A GLITCH IN THE SYSTEM by Adam Aust

This debut mystery is a thrill-a-moment highly suspenseful roller coaster ride, where surprises and twists abound and both reader and protagonist are kept heart-in-mouth. Readers are caught up from the first page, accompanying the female protagonist whose life and relationships are upended and turned inside out.

Angela Gianni is a university-degreed L. A. resident who makes her living as a psychiatrist. When her best friend reports a bad breakup, then disappears while supposedly returning to the ex's apartment to collect her clothes, Angela files a missing person report. Next a client also disappears, she receives threatening text messages and parcels, another client dies--and a bewildered Angela finds herself charged with triple homicide.

A GLITCH IN THE SYSTEM is breathless reading (and heaven for a conspiracy theorist like me.)

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