Book Reviews: Defriended by Ruth Baron and Purgatory Key by Darrell James

Ruth Baron
Point Horror, May 2013
ISBN 978-0-545-42357-1
Trade Paperback

Meeting new people is hard.  Today’s world of Facebook, blogs and YouTube makes it easier, but new challenges are presented.  There is a lack of certainty with an online relationship.  Common questions arise.  Is the person I’m talking to really this cool?  Is the person being honest?  Is this a ghost?  Okay, the last one, maybe not so common.

Jason’s love of indie rock, The Mountain Goats in particular, was not something he expected to share with a high-school girl.  When he discovered Lacey’s profile on-line, he felt compelled to contact her.  They both had the same quote from Mountain Goats’ Fault Lines on their homepage.

Eventually, Lacey responds to Jason and the two grow close quickly.  After months of chatting, e-mailing and Instant-Messaging, Jason was ready for a face-to-face meeting.  He was surprised and disappointed with Lacey’s evasive responses.  He turns to Google where he is stunned to find Lacey’s obituary.  She was killed in an accident months before she first contacted him.  Although shattered, Jason resolves to find out who he has been talking to, and why.

Thus begins a wonderful potpourri of mystery, ghost-story, cruel-hoax, with a little bit of forbidden love.   Not only did this completely captivate this reader, it kept me guessing and second-guessing.  Ms. Baron does an amazing job in introducing the characters with just enough information to make the reader say “hmmm”.  While this book may be intended for Middle Grade readers; it is, quite simply, a fabulous, classic mystery that any reader would enjoy.  I will be on the look-out for more from Ruth Baron.

Reviewed by jv poore, May 2013.


Purgatory KeyPurgatory Key
A Del Shannon Novel
Darrell James
Midnight Ink, August 2013
ISBN 978-0-7387-2371-6
Trade Paperback

From the mountains of Arizona to the bayous of Louisiana, Darrel James gives another suspense filled novel featuring Del Shannon. This time around she’s up against kidnappers and her own personal demons because, this time, it connects with her past. And when a former lover enters the picture…well, you knows sparks are going to sizzle.

Investigator Del Shannon is assigned to find two kidnapped teenagers. In Tuscon, Shannon makes contact with one of the kidnappers and negotiates a money drop. However, the drop goes bad and Shannon has scant leads. ATF Agent Frank Falconet is assigned to trace a major league felon presumed to be dead. The man’s brother’s image was picked up on surveillance in Tuscon. When Shannon and Falconet meet up, they realize their two cases are connected and it’s off to the bayous of Louisiana. While they also try to sort out their previous romantic relationship, the teenagers must contend with killers and tiger…and the possibility of treasure nearby.

I’ve read a previous Shannon novel and wasn’t disappointed. James delivers a well written novel and though some of the scenes are predictable, there is an excellent balance between character substance and action. This is another fine addition to the series with the stage set for more to come.

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