Book Reviews: Long Gone by Alafair Burke, Heaven's Fire by Sandra Balzo, and A Dark Dividing by Sarah Rayne


Long Gone

Alafair Burke
Harper, June 2011
ISBN No. 978-0061999185
Hardcover

Alice Humphrey’s chance meeting with Drew Campbell at first glance appears to be a lucky break. Alice is unemployed and Drew Campbell offers her a chance to run a gallery and be her own boss.  Alice’s father is a famous Hollywood producer and Alice had starred in some roles as a child star.     Alice harbors some bad feelings towards her father and this opportunity to do something exciting on her own without any help from her family is just too good to pass up.

Alice took Drew up on his offer and opened the Highline Gallery.  Drew’s story was that his client was willing to finance the gallery with the provision that Hans Schuler, an artist his client had an interest in, would have a private showing at the gallery.  Schuler’s art was anything but normal but Alice felt that she would be able to pick the art shown at the gallery once she got Schuler’s show out of the way.  Schuler’s art did sell but it was more from on line orders that walk in customers.  The artist had a gimmick of sending a jump drive of his art with each purchase.  Alice’s friend Lily at first thought Drew Campbell was just blowing smoke and would never rent the space for the gallery but later encouraged Alice to accept the position.  Alice had just gotten the opening over with when suddenly the Highline Gallery is being picketed by a fanatic church organization.  The church declared that the art displayed in the gallery was actually child pornography.

Alice’s attempts to contact Drew Campbell or his investor were unsuccessful.  Drew finally called Alice to meet him early in the morning at the gallery.  Alice arrived at the gallery to find the door unlocked, the gallery empty and a dead body on the floor.

Alice is interviewed by the police and she feels that the police aren’t buying her story.  To make matters worse when the police search the gallery premises they find the fingerprint of a young girl who has been reported missing by her mother.

As well as Alice’s story, Long Gone covers one police officer’s diligent search for the missing girl whose fingerprint is found in the gallery.  An FBI agent discovers that he has a direct connection to the man who Alice knows as Drew Campbell.  He feels Drew Campbell was responsible for the death of his sister.  The police in charge of the murder investigation where Alice is a suspect feel they have found the guilty party and do not really want to investigate other options.  Meanwhile Alice is frantic in her attempts to prove herself innocent.

This book is like a giant jigsaw puzzle and the author brings the pieces together in a way that makes the reader want to turn the pages faster and faster to see where the next piece will fit.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2011.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Heaven’s Fire
Sandra Balzo
Kindle Edition, April 2011

Wendy “Jake” Jacobus, a TV producer for TV8 looked on in horror as she monitored the cameras at Lake Days Fireworks in Liberty, Wisconsin.  Firenze Fireworks is in charge of the display and the misfire that Jake just witnessed has taken the life of Pasquale Firenze, head of the company.  Not only is Pasquale killed but his son-in-law Ray Guido is washed off the barge by the wash of water created by the explosion. There is no sign of Ray’s body.

Simon Aamont is an investigator with ATF and an expert on fireworks.  Simon had previously investigated an accident involving the Firenze Fireworks company a few years ago.  Simon was also personally acquainted with the family.

Simon and Jake hit it off and Simon takes Jake to meet the Firenze family.  The family is a close-knit one and a group that openly show their love for each other but Simon feels something is amiss.  He can’t figure out if there is a problem from outside influences such as business rivals or from a problem within the family.

Jake is also disturbed after she finds out that one of the camera men at TV8 is making duplicate copies of tapes to be sold on the internet.

The author has certainly done her homework regarding the manufacture and use of fireworks.  The book also shows that the author has some inside knowledge of workings in a TV studio.

Simon is doing his utmost to get to the bottom of what happened to cause the misfiring of the fireworks.  Jake does everything to help him but soon the two of them are facing a dangerous situation that threatens their own lives.

If  you are a reader that enjoys a fast-paced story with lots of twists and turns this book is for you.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2011.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Dark Dividing
Sarah Rayne
Felony & Mayhem Press, June 2011
ISBN No. 978-1-934609-80-4
Trade Paperback

A Dark Dividing is a novel that tells the story of two families, each with a set of twins.  Both sets of twins were born conjoined.  This is a rare but very sad occurrence.  In both instances, the mothers loved their children no matter what the problems the births presented but the fathers of the twins each had a different outlook on the birth of the twins and neither father really loved the children.

Harry Fitzgerald is a journalist that is assigned the task of reporting on a new art gallery.  Harry is less than thrilled with the assignment until he meets Simone Anderson who is going by the name Simone Marriot, a photographer.   Simone shows Harry some of her photographs that display a haunting quality much like Simone herself.  Simone is said to have had a twin sister that is now deceased.  Simone and her twin Sonia were born conjoined but no information has been published about the twins for years.

As Harry begins to research Simone’s background he finds a book that has been out of print for years that tells the tale of another set of conjoined twins named Viola and Sorrel Quinton and their mother Charlotte.  The twins were born years ago and their story is a sad one.   Mortmain House plays a big part in the story of Viola and Sorrel.  Mortmain House is dark, dreary and downright scary but the author keeps taking you back to this place of horrors.

Simone has had dreams of Mortmain House for years and finally moves near Mortmain where she has a terrifying experience that will haunt her for years.

The story of the two sets of twins is fascinating as well as horrifying.  Harry’s research into the lives of the two sets of twins uncovers long buried secrets.  A Dark Dividing is the type of book that will haunt you long after you have read the last page.

This is Sarah Rayne’s first novel to be published in the United States and it is a very, very good book.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2011.

Book Reviews: Long Gone by Alafair Burke, Heaven’s Fire by Sandra Balzo, and A Dark Dividing by Sarah Rayne


Long Gone

Alafair Burke
Harper, June 2011
ISBN No. 978-0061999185
Hardcover

Alice Humphrey’s chance meeting with Drew Campbell at first glance appears to be a lucky break. Alice is unemployed and Drew Campbell offers her a chance to run a gallery and be her own boss.  Alice’s father is a famous Hollywood producer and Alice had starred in some roles as a child star.     Alice harbors some bad feelings towards her father and this opportunity to do something exciting on her own without any help from her family is just too good to pass up.

Alice took Drew up on his offer and opened the Highline Gallery.  Drew’s story was that his client was willing to finance the gallery with the provision that Hans Schuler, an artist his client had an interest in, would have a private showing at the gallery.  Schuler’s art was anything but normal but Alice felt that she would be able to pick the art shown at the gallery once she got Schuler’s show out of the way.  Schuler’s art did sell but it was more from on line orders that walk in customers.  The artist had a gimmick of sending a jump drive of his art with each purchase.  Alice’s friend Lily at first thought Drew Campbell was just blowing smoke and would never rent the space for the gallery but later encouraged Alice to accept the position.  Alice had just gotten the opening over with when suddenly the Highline Gallery is being picketed by a fanatic church organization.  The church declared that the art displayed in the gallery was actually child pornography.

Alice’s attempts to contact Drew Campbell or his investor were unsuccessful.  Drew finally called Alice to meet him early in the morning at the gallery.  Alice arrived at the gallery to find the door unlocked, the gallery empty and a dead body on the floor.

Alice is interviewed by the police and she feels that the police aren’t buying her story.  To make matters worse when the police search the gallery premises they find the fingerprint of a young girl who has been reported missing by her mother.

As well as Alice’s story, Long Gone covers one police officer’s diligent search for the missing girl whose fingerprint is found in the gallery.  An FBI agent discovers that he has a direct connection to the man who Alice knows as Drew Campbell.  He feels Drew Campbell was responsible for the death of his sister.  The police in charge of the murder investigation where Alice is a suspect feel they have found the guilty party and do not really want to investigate other options.  Meanwhile Alice is frantic in her attempts to prove herself innocent.

This book is like a giant jigsaw puzzle and the author brings the pieces together in a way that makes the reader want to turn the pages faster and faster to see where the next piece will fit.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2011.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Heaven’s Fire
Sandra Balzo
Kindle Edition, April 2011

Wendy “Jake” Jacobus, a TV producer for TV8 looked on in horror as she monitored the cameras at Lake Days Fireworks in Liberty, Wisconsin.  Firenze Fireworks is in charge of the display and the misfire that Jake just witnessed has taken the life of Pasquale Firenze, head of the company.  Not only is Pasquale killed but his son-in-law Ray Guido is washed off the barge by the wash of water created by the explosion. There is no sign of Ray’s body.

Simon Aamont is an investigator with ATF and an expert on fireworks.  Simon had previously investigated an accident involving the Firenze Fireworks company a few years ago.  Simon was also personally acquainted with the family.

Simon and Jake hit it off and Simon takes Jake to meet the Firenze family.  The family is a close-knit one and a group that openly show their love for each other but Simon feels something is amiss.  He can’t figure out if there is a problem from outside influences such as business rivals or from a problem within the family.

Jake is also disturbed after she finds out that one of the camera men at TV8 is making duplicate copies of tapes to be sold on the internet.

The author has certainly done her homework regarding the manufacture and use of fireworks.  The book also shows that the author has some inside knowledge of workings in a TV studio.

Simon is doing his utmost to get to the bottom of what happened to cause the misfiring of the fireworks.  Jake does everything to help him but soon the two of them are facing a dangerous situation that threatens their own lives.

If  you are a reader that enjoys a fast-paced story with lots of twists and turns this book is for you.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2011.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Dark Dividing
Sarah Rayne
Felony & Mayhem Press, June 2011
ISBN No. 978-1-934609-80-4
Trade Paperback

A Dark Dividing is a novel that tells the story of two families, each with a set of twins.  Both sets of twins were born conjoined.  This is a rare but very sad occurrence.  In both instances, the mothers loved their children no matter what the problems the births presented but the fathers of the twins each had a different outlook on the birth of the twins and neither father really loved the children.

Harry Fitzgerald is a journalist that is assigned the task of reporting on a new art gallery.  Harry is less than thrilled with the assignment until he meets Simone Anderson who is going by the name Simone Marriot, a photographer.   Simone shows Harry some of her photographs that display a haunting quality much like Simone herself.  Simone is said to have had a twin sister that is now deceased.  Simone and her twin Sonia were born conjoined but no information has been published about the twins for years.

As Harry begins to research Simone’s background he finds a book that has been out of print for years that tells the tale of another set of conjoined twins named Viola and Sorrel Quinton and their mother Charlotte.  The twins were born years ago and their story is a sad one.   Mortmain House plays a big part in the story of Viola and Sorrel.  Mortmain House is dark, dreary and downright scary but the author keeps taking you back to this place of horrors.

Simone has had dreams of Mortmain House for years and finally moves near Mortmain where she has a terrifying experience that will haunt her for years.

The story of the two sets of twins is fascinating as well as horrifying.  Harry’s research into the lives of the two sets of twins uncovers long buried secrets.  A Dark Dividing is the type of book that will haunt you long after you have read the last page.

This is Sarah Rayne’s first novel to be published in the United States and it is a very, very good book.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2011.