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Book Review: Scared to Death by Rachel Amphlett

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Title: Scared to Death
Series: A Detective Kay Hunter Novel #1
Author: Rachel Amphlett
Narrator: Alison Campbell
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Publication Date: October 2, 2017

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Purchase Links:
The Author // Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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Scared to Death
A Detective Kay Hunter Novel #1
Rachel Amphlett
Narrated by Alison Campbell
Saxon Publishing, October 2017
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the publisher—

“If you want to see your daughter alive again, listen carefully.”

When the body of a snatched schoolgirl is found in an abandoned biosciences building, the case is first treated as a kidnapping gone wrong.

But Detective Kay Hunter isn’t convinced, especially when a man is found dead with the ransom money still in his possession.

When a second schoolgirl is taken, Kay’s worst fears are realized.

With her career in jeopardy – desperate to conceal a disturbing secret, Kay’s hunt for the killer becomes a race against time before he claims another life.

For the killer, the game has only just begun….

Scared to Death is the first book in a new crime thriller series featuring Kay Hunter – a detective with a hidden past and an uncertain future….

Rachel Amphlett is an author who’s new to me and I am SO glad to have found her. She has no career background in law enforcement as far as I can tell but she certainly has crafted a fine police procedural.

When an abducted teen is found dead—after an emotionally-wrought build-up—Kay Hunter thinks this might be something more than a kidnap-for-ransom gone bad, unlike others on the force. With  a small team, the detective develops one lead after another into who might have killed Melanie in such evil fashion, following several paths, but when a second girl is taken, the pressure mounts to an unbearable level. A prime suspect is let go when the evidence against him is considered too weak but Kay is sure that he’s involved and that time is running out for Emma very soon.

It’s not easy to write a story as gruesome as this one is at points but it somehow fits better and is slightly more palatable in the hands of a British police department. Part of this is because British police are generally depicted as a bit more “average Joe” than Americans, a little less gung ho and certainly they don’t go in guns blazing. In the case of this story, Ms. Amphlett has also allowed her characters to have baggage without it overwhelming their lives. These detectives cope without turning into drunken, psychologically damaged people who have to struggle to get by each day and that is a very welcome change from so much American crime fiction. I especially appreciated Adam, Kay’s husband, who is a s supportive and caring as any husband can be.

As for the narration, Ms. Amphlett couldn’t have chosen a better woman to play the part of Detective Kay Hunter than Alison Campbell. Her evocation of the investigator is nearly perfect and she handles all other voices quite well, including the males. Ms. Campbell was indeed a large part of my enjoyment of Scared to Death and I’m glad I can dive into the next book, Will to Live, right away.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2018.

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About the Author

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram

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About the Narrator

I’m a Bristol-based actress who trained at Bretton Hall and the University of Leeds. I’ve been involved with a huge range of projects and love a bit of variety of life!

I’m lucky to be a verstile performer – think everything  from Shakespeare, to  interactive theatre, comedy, solo shows and a whole host of different voice work.

I’m experienced in devising, improvisation, multi-roleing, immersive theatre and voice acting,

I have a lot of fun performing across the UK and round the world with the award-winning Natural Theatre, specialising in immersive, interactive theatre in surprising places.

I also teach youth theatre, facilitate theatre workshops and am experienced in corporate roleplay and presenting.

I’m represented by Louise Alexander at BAM Associates

Website

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Play an excerpt here.

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Follow the tour here.

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Book Review: A Thousand Cuts by Thomas Mogford

A Thousand Cuts
A Spike Sanguinetti Novel #5

Thomas Mogford
Bloomsbury Books, July 2017
ISBN: 978-1-6328-6845-9
Hardcover

Thomas Mogford has written a stunning, wrenching thriller. It is true that the passage of time can heal many wounds, but not all. Here is an emotionally fraught tale stretching from the turgid dark time of international intrigue and sabotage during World War II to the modern century of courts, lawyers, social interactions in a stratified and somewhat isolated society. The setting of the story, the rocky peninsula limited by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, called Gibraltar, is an unusual and interesting place.

The protagonist is lawyer Spike Sanguinetti, dealing on the home front with an aging unsettled father, an adoptive son and a pregnant fiancée, Jessica, who is a member of the Gibraltar constabulary. The cast of characters is long and varied and the story actually begins in the dockyard of the Royal Navy, during the early years of World War II. An explosion kills two Navy ship workers and severely injures a third man, Esteban Reyes. Reyes is arrested as a saboteur and eventually executed.

Time passes, and the modern story develops when Spike is called on to defend a violent man, known throughout the small Gibraltar community for attacking the dying husband of a prominent doctor. Why does this happen? What is the connection between these three individuals? That mystery, that puzzle is the heart of this moving tale. As more and more is revealed, obscure and unknown connections are bared to the cold light of day. Moral issues of war and law are raised and bent in many directions.

Questions of motive, love and professional development are raised and twisted about with the relationships of the characters. The novel is packed with emotion and second-guessing and issues and Spike Sanguinetti is confronted with several decisions that affect his personal as well as his professional life.

It is a lot to deal with and the author is careful to construct a structure that retains necessary logic and fully explains itself to the reader, yet leaves one with personal questions. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, November 2017.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Waiting On Wednesday (90)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that
spotlights upcoming releases that I’m really
looking forward to. Waiting On Wednesday
is the creation of Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

The Outsider
Stephen King
Scribner, May 2018
Horror, Mystery

From the publisher—

An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

Why am I waiting so eagerly? Well, first of all, it’s Stephen King so that’s a no-brainer for me. Although he’s nearly always brilliant, I think King has been a little on the tame side recently but this one sounds like it’s a return to his glory days. A compelling mystery, a rush to judgement and a potential out-of-the-norm monster? Yes, it’s true, I can’t wait 😉

Book Review: Holmes Entangled by Gordon McAlpine—and a Giveaway!

Holmes Entangled
Gordon McAlpine
Seventh Street Books, March 2018
ISBN 978-1-63388-207-2
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Sherlock Holmes, now in his seventies, retired from investigations and peaceably disguised as a professor at Cambridge, is shaken when a modestly successful author in his late-sixties named Arthur Conan Doyle calls upon him at the university. This Conan Doyle, notable for historical adventure stories, science fiction, and a three-volume history of the Boer War (but no detective tales), somehow knows of the false professor’s true identity and pleads for investigative assistance. Someone is trying to kill Conan Doyle. Who? Why? Good questions, but what intrigues Holmes most is how the “middling scribbler” ascertained Holmes’s identity in the first place, despite the detective’s perfect disguise. Holmes takes the case.

There is danger every step of the way. Great powers want the investigation quashed. But with the assistance of Dr. Watson’s widow, Holmes persists, exploring séances, the esoterica of Edgar Allan Poe, the revolutionary new science of quantum mechanics, and his own long-denied sense of loss and solitude.

Ultimately, even Sherlock Holmes is unprepared for what the evidence suggests.

There are certain authors and/or characters who draw the attention of other authors who come up with story ideas involving these real and fictional people. Jane Austen and her Bennett sisters, not to mention Darcy, come to mind, Agatha Christie is another and, of course, there are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. There have been many tales based on the great detective (and Dr. Watson) beyond those written by his creator, including whole series, and a few that I’m aware of that focus on Conan Doyle himself.

Here we have a tale that has Conan Doyle asking senior citizen Sherlock Holmes to look into a case after he has been cunningly disguised and in retirement for quite some time. At first, Holmes refuses to look into why Conan Doyle is the target of an assassin but he’s pulled in mainly because he can’t stand not knowing how Conan Doyle identified him. And thus begins a story of seances, encounters with such personages as Edgar Allan Poe and his C. Auguste Dupin, hints of nefarious activities by powerful organizations and even the possibility that alternate worlds exist.

Purists probably won’t care much for this latest Holmesian effort but the rest of us can enjoy the fun of a criminal investigation by the great detective mixed with a dip into the possibilities inherent in science fiction. Not being a purist myself, I was wholly entertained.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2018.

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To enter the drawing for a print copy
of Holmes Entangled by Gordon McAlpine,
just leave a comment below. The winning
names will be drawn on Friday night,
  March 30th, for one Advance Reading Copy
and one finished trade paperback copy. This
drawing is open
to the US and Canada.

Book Review: Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays ed. by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley

Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays
Edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley
Wildside Press LLC, June 2014
ISBN 978-1-4794-0309-7
Trade Paperback

As Rhys Bowen says in her introduction to this collection of holiday short stories, “Who hasn’t wanted to commit a murder at a family holiday celebration?” If these fourteen stories are any indication, I think she must be right.

When I read the book’s title, Homicidal Holidays brought Christmas to my mind, but come to find out, Halloween is actually more popular⏤at least when it comes to crime.

Even “Talk Like A Pirate Day” is represented in the collection. Cathy Wiley has penned a clever little mystery that asks the question, did the pirate reenactor who stepped off a pier in the midst of a staged sword fight commit suicide, or was he murdered? “Dead Men Tell No Tales”–or do they?

You might not think Groundhog’s Day a subject for criminal activity, until a man becomes so bedeviled by his town’s resident groundhog’s always accurate weather predictions, that he is moved to kidnap Missisquoi Moe. This fine tale is by Barb Goffman.

In addition to the above authors, look for stories by Rosemary and Larry Mild, E.B.Davis, Shaun Taylor Bevins, Art Taylor,Shari Randall, Meg Opperman, Carla Coupe, Timothy Bentler-Jungr, Linda Lombardi, Debbi Mack, Clyde Linsley and Donna Andrews.

Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day all come in for rousing good stories, and with five Halloween and four Christmas stories, you’re in for a few hours of good fun.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, January 2018.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder, Four Furlongs and Hometown Homicide.

Book Review: Condition Book Three by Alec Pirri

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Title: Condition Book Three
Series: The Condition Trilogy
Author: Alec Birri
Narrator: Jonathan Keeble
Publication Date: January 17, 2018
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian

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Purchase Links:

Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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Condition Book Three
The Final Correction
The Condition Trilogy
Alec Birri
Narrated by Jonathan Keeble
Essential Music Limited, January 2018
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the publisher—

So, Professor Savage has been unmasked as the monster Alex Salib always knew he was. But what was their agreement and why is she still determined to see it through? The war on terror appears to be back on track but why does President Kalten seem hell bent on ramping it up – are the Americans seriously intent on starting World War Three?

And what of the treatment itself? Despite Savage’s arrest, the ‘corrections’ go on but to what end? The laws of unintended consequences are about to cause a seismic shift in the very nature of our existence. But then our new masters know that and won’t let it happen until we’re ready…
…Ready to accept the unacceptable.

The year 2028 finds Faruk and Isra, his daughter, traveling through a Middle Eastern desert, en route to deliver Isra to The Prophet. The world has changed thanks to the scientific innovations brought about by Professor Savage and the traditional Faruk has a good deal of trouble blending his old ways with the new face of Islam. Isra, on the other hand, is finding a lot of freedom she never knew before as a young Muslim woman. This particular section of the story is very relevant today as we try, not always successfully, to accept and accommodate cultures and religions that vary widely.

Later, we re-encounter Professor Savage, Nurse Tracy and Dr. Addams as well as a host of new characters; in fact, I began to wish for a cast of characters, not that such a thing is very helpful with an audiobook. What began as an attempt to treat—or, rather, correct—brain disorders has morphed into a mishmash of real time and virtual reality as well as an evolution in the abilities of AI’s to have the emotions of humans. Unfortunately, the question of who is to decide what is aberrant or deviant behavior in need of “correction” is a very heavy issue, as heavy as that of the anti-terror activities that may lead to a new world war.

There is no tidy end to this trilogy but much is left to the reader’s own thoughts, not a bad way to conclude such a tale.

Jonathan Keeble has grown into one of my favorite narrators with his pleasant tones, vivid characterizations (including what seem to be accurate accents in a variety of cultures) and his ability to evoke all kinds of feelings about the story. I don’t think Mr. Birri could have asked for a better voice for his tale.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2018.

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About the Author

Alec Birri served thirty years with the UK Armed Forces. He commanded an operational unit that experimented in new military capabilities classified at the highest level (Top Secret Strap 3) and it is this that forms the basis of his novels. Although semi-autobiographical, for national security and personal liberty reasons, the events and individuals portrayed have to be fiction but are still nonetheless in keeping with his experiences.

Website
Twitter
Facebook

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About the Narrator

If you regularly enjoy listening to audiobooks then this Shakespearean actor will need no introduction. Winner of a 2016 SOVAS award, Jonathan’s voice is rightly recognized as being one of the best, and his narration of The Condition Trilogy is no exception.

LinkedIn
IMDB

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Play an excerpt here.

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Follow the tour here.

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