Book Reviews: Noontime Follies by Elizabeth Gunn and Retribution by Richard Sotnick

Noontime FolliesNoontime Follies
A Jake Hines Mystery #10
Elizabeth Gunn
Severn House, July 2015
ISBN: 9780727884961

This author has many crime novels in print. They are all competently written with interesting characters in sometimes unusual locations. The Jake Hines series is particularly interesting in that it follows a lone Mexican with a checkered past who ends up in a small city on the eastern border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. Over a period of years Jake Hines gets his life together, becomes a cop, a detective and now head of the investigations squad in Rutherford, Minnesota.

Noontime Follies is a title with someone’s tongue firmly implanted. And even though revealing the inner meaning of the title wouldn’t ruin the plot of the crimes herein, I think it’s more fun and more intriguing to suggest that readers who want an incisive crime novel about human relations and corporate maneuvering ought to read this one.

This novel is, in part, about the corporate development of new genetically engineered food crops which may or may not provide substantial benefits to mankind in the form of better nutrition. The issues are several and do indeed address questions of ethics and morality. After all, mankind, since the beginning, so far as we know, has been trying to improve crop yields, both to enrich the tribe and provide adequate food beyond immediate needs.

Some find that questionable, particularly as to motive, and may be provoked to unusual actions. Noontime Follies raises some interesting questions along those lines as well as its more intimate plot lines. A worthwhile experience with a satisfactory conclusion.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, June 2015.
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.


Richard Sotnick
Ephesus Publishing, June 2013
ISBN 978-0-9557125-3-1
Trade Paperback

The author is a lawyer from Portsmouth, England. The novel is rooted in the legal arcana of the British legal system. In point of fact, the novel is a lengthy, detailed critique of that system and an examination of the sometimes extensive damage the system does to innocent, wrongly accused, citizens.

Robert Abramsky is a very successful small town attorney who is faced with a client who started a specialized security firm. The security firm is absorbed into a much larger conglomerate and then unethically destroyed. Abramsky out-maneuvers the big firm and in turn destroys the vindictive man responsible. Readers will recognize that the tale will not end there.

Lawyer Abramsky’s main opponent is a nasty, vindictive man with a long memory. Years later, he still seethes over the memory of his destruction, conveniently overlooking the fact that he was, in fact, the guilty party. He determines to destroy Robert Abramsky in a most hurtful way, by ruining his honest reputation as a lawyer and member of the community. Corruption takes many forms and this intriguing novel examines several.

Although the pace of this overlong novel is almost as glacial as the legal system it addresses, the writing is strong enough and the plot is complicated enough to keep many readers engaged. In addition, the characterizations of many of the cast of dozens, is intriguing. Retribution fits its title nicely and the world-wide scope of the story plus the curiously intricate cyber security the author lays out all tends to keep one’s attention. Definitely not a soft summer beach read. Rather, a thoughtful careful examination of important elements of today’s society.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, January 2015.
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.