Book Reviews: Dark City Blue by Luke Preston, In the Bleak Midwinter by M. R. Sellars, and The Trajectory of Dreams by Nicole Wolverton

Dark City BlueDark City Blue
Luke Preston
Momentum/ Pan Macmillan Australia, December 2012
ISBN 9781743341018
Also available in trade paperback

When the bad guys wear blue, who do you trust? Strap in tight, because this trip will be fast and furious, and if you’re not careful, fatal. The action never slows in this shoot ’em up and heavy hittin’ tale of one man’s mission to halt the widespread corruption in the law enforcement community.

Detective Tom Bishop is on the trail of dirty cops. After a takedown of an illegal pornography operation, one of the felons squeals about robbery going down the next morning involving bad cops. Bishop discovers the robbery too late, but subsequent investigation puts him on the run from members of his own department. Not knowing who to trust, beaten, shot and pursued, Bishop wades through the muck of the city to find the answers and to reveal the mysterious entity known as Justice.

Yes, the action is fast, the chapters short and I wish the story would have slowed down a little to let me see some more depth. The story never mentions in what town this all happens. Everything went so quickly, I think the author forgot first names for some of his characters. However, Dark City Blue might leave you blue in the face trying to catch your breath and leave you wanting another go-round at the end.

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, December 2012.
Author of Night Shadows, Beta and Alpha.


In the Bleak MidwinterIn The Bleak Midwinter
A Special Agent Constance Mandalay Novel
M. R. Sellars
WillowTree Press / E.M.A. Mysteries, Ocober 2011
ISBN 9780979453380
Trade Paperback

A case to span the decades. A girl lost in time. A small community haunted by an annual murder. An FBI agent forced to spend her Christmas hunting a murderer. This is what you’ll find in the latest Sellars supernaturally laced mystery novel. Travel to northern Missouri where Christmas isn’t celebrated with the usual traditions. It’s a story to give you chills…and not because of the cold weather.

In 1975, a few days before Christmas, a little girl in the small Missouri township of Hullis runs afoul of a child molester. Deputy Skip Carmichael receives the first call on the case, but his discoveries are more than he imagined. Thirty-five years later, Sheriff Skip is dealing with a serial killer who drops bodies off in his town seven years running. This year, he receives a visit from the fifth FBI investigator to handle the case in the form of Constance Mandalay. Will this year be any different or can Mandalay and Carmichael ferret out the anomalies and inconsistencies to the string of murders?

Something about this story kept me reading. I had questions right along with Mandalay and I wanted answers. This story compelled me to turn more pages. There isn’t much “shoot ’em up action” because it isn’t that type of story. Rather, it brushes you with eeriness, caresses with a soft touch of spooky. You’ll wait for it, but love when it’s revealed. Then, maybe, just as I did, walk away wondering if it will ever end.

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, January 2013.
Author of Night Shadows, Beta and Alpha.


The Trajectory of DreamsThe Trajectory of Dreams
Nicole Wolverton
Bitingduck Press, March 2013
ISBN 978-1-938463-45-7

A woman shaped by her mother’s abusive nature and her father’s wisdom. A scientist convinced if she doesn’t keep a close eye on certain subjects, disaster may strike. Who is prepared to kill to keep her secrets. This is the story of Lela White. A strange tale that may confound some readers and fascinate others. Caution is the word here not because of any violence or graphic detail, but because this book is different from any other I’ve ever read and even after finishing it, I wasn’t quite sure I had absorbed it all.

Lela White works for a sleep study center in Houston. Part of her study involves the psychological condition of astronauts for upcoming shuttle missions. Not part of her study is her enigmatic compulsion to break in to the astronauts’ homes for a closer study on how they sleep…and to possibly kill them if she suspects they will be a danger to the mission. However, when she meets cosmonaut Zory Korchagin, who quotes poetry and speaks of his grandmother, her plans go awry as her attraction to him grows. Also messing with her plans are: a pesky librarian, a coworker and unwanted roommate and a janitor with whom she trades sexual favors for information. How does she solve her dilemma of whether Zory will be an asset or a liability to the upcoming space flight? Find a way to put him in mortal danger.

This one is a bit surreal, a bit of suspense, and not for the quick reader. This is something to be studied, analyzed, discussed. Layers flow through this story that, and as I mentioned earlier, I don’t think I quite touched upon them all. Lela is all but emotionless in that there is almost no distinction of her thoughts between sex and death. She’s a little paranoid, a little quirky, and just might stay with you long after you’ve read the final page.

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, March 2013.
Author of Night Shadows, Beta and Alpha.

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