Book Reviews: Tokyo Kill by Barry Lancet and The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

Tokyo KillTokyo Kill
Barry Lancet
Simon & Schuster, September 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4516-9172-6
Hardcover

Jim Brodie made his initial appearance in Japantown, an action-packed thriller and the series debut.  He now returns in a novel which is no less filled with derring-do and lots of exotic descriptions of Japanese culture and history.  Brodie inherited a half-interest in Brodie Security, founded by his late father and headquartered in Tokyo, and also operates an art dealership, which he claims is his main profession, in San Francisco.

In Tokyo seeking a rare painting, Brodie is approached by a 90-year-old veteran of World War II asking for protection because members of his military detachment in Manchuria during the war-time occupation by Japan were being murdered.  After he supplies a security detail, events take over the course of the rest of the novel, as Brodie investigates the possibility of Triads, Chinese spies and others as the culprits.  And that takes on a life of its own.

The author has lived and worked in Japan for more than a quarter century, and the flavor and information about the country permeates with authenticity throughout the novel.  His description of various types of martial arts practiced in Japan is a further exhibit of his expertise.  Powerfully written, Tokyo Kill is a very enjoyable read, and this reader is looking forward to additions to the series.
Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2014.

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The Care and Management of LiesThe Care and Management of Lies
A Novel of the Great War
Jacqueline Winspear
Harper, July 2014
ISBN: 978-0-06-222050-9
Hardcover

The old adage that an army travels on its stomach certainly is an apt description for this standalone by the author of the terrific Maisie Dobbs series.  Like those novels, it is sent in and around World War I and captures the horrors of the Great War, the muddy trenches, the deaths and its effect on the folks back home.

The plot centers on Kezia Marchant who marries Tom, the younger brother of her good friend, Thea Brisenden, with whom she went to school, both becoming teachers.  Then upon marrying Tom, Kezia becomes a farm wife.  All this takes place shortly before the outbreak of hostilities, and when the war breaks out, Tom feels imperiled to enlist, leaving Kezia to manage the farm.

In the brief time before Tom leaves for France, a ritual develops, as Kezia learns to cook with a flourish, using ingenuity and good sense to set a table unlike anything her husband had ever experienced.  And when he receives letters in the trenches they are filled with glowing accounts of dinners Kezia has prepared for him, filling his drudgery with lightness.  And the rest of the soldiers in his unit take to the descriptions as well, adding to their joy in the face of the poor rations they have to endure.  This is a novel demonstrating the ability of people to withstand all sorts of horrible experiences and survive, and it is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, January 2015.

Book Reviews: Cop Town by Karin Slaughter, The Thieves of Legend by Richard Doetsch, and Cabin Fever by James M. Jackson

Cop TownCop Town
Karin Slaughter
Delacorte Press, June 2014
ISBN No. 978-0-345-54749-1
Hardcover

Kate Murphy is a young widow from a well-to-do family. Her husband was killed in the service and Kate has made the decision to join the Atlanta Police Force. Her first day on the job leaves her wondering if she has made an error in judgment and needs to rethink her decision.

Nothing is easy on the first day. The legs on her uniform are too long; her cap is too big and falls down in her face and her shoes fall off with every step. It seems the Atlanta PD could care less if the uniform fits the female officers. The male officers enjoy painting a penis on the women’s bathrooms and the colored women police officers have a separate dressing room divided by a curtain.

The Atlanta PD is full of racism and very few new officers, particularly women, meet the criteria necessary to gain respect. Kate is partnered with Maggie Lawson. Maggie has a brother and an uncle on the force, neither of which treat Maggie with much respect. Maggie tries to give Kate a few tips as far as work is concerned but neither woman feel their partnership will be a success.

Immediately the pair are thrown into the investigation of the death of another police officer. Maggie’s brother, Jimmy Lawson, was partnered with the officer killed and managed to carry him all the way to the hospital even though he was also hurt.

It is suspected that a criminal called “The Shooter” is the one killing the officers. Each time a cop is killed the situation seems to have been set up in the same way. Maggie and Kate hook up with a black police officer, Gail Patterson, who agrees to help them locate a pimp that Maggie feels has some information they can use. The three get the information but more trouble than they signed up for.

Cop Town is an exciting book that is difficult to put down. I’ve read all of Karin Slaughter‘s novels and she has long been one of my favorite authors. This novel is a standalone but I am hoping that I might be reading more about Maggie and Kate in the future.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, July 2014.

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The Thieves of LegendThe Thieves of Legend
Richard Doetsch
Atria Books, November 2012

ISBN978-1-4165-9898-5
Hardcover

Master thief Michael St. Pierre is blackmailed into stealing an ancient artifact hidden several stories beneath the royal palace in the heart of the Forbidden City. His ex-girlfriend, KC Ryan, also a master thief, is under the same duress to steal a second part of the artifact located in a different area of China.

Michael has five days before the U.S. Army Colonel behind the blackmail says he’ll kill KC.  KC has the same kind of deal with the female assassin set to guard her. Michael’s and KC’s lives depend on each being successful. Meanwhile they’ll need to contend not only with Chinese Triads, but with more than one madman. Fortunately, Michael has a couple good friends willing to do almost anything the help protect him and KC, and prevent the artifact from falling into the wrong hands.

Lots of violence here, and just when you think one of the bad guys has been eliminated, he pops up again like an unkillable weed.

The well-developed characters are brilliant, as Michael and his friends, Simon and Busch, as well as KC prove as they work through a convoluted puzzle. They’re also goodlooking, and tremendously athletic.

The action is non-stop, the plotting clever with a delicious mystery at the center. The setting moves from country to country, from land to sea, and the tension never ceases to ramp up.

Mr. Doetsch, who states he loves research, has included a historical character, a certain Zheng He, in the story, which adds a nice touch and whets one’s appetite to learn more about him.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, May 2014.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder.

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Cabin FeverCabin Fever 
A Seamus McCree Mystery
James M. Jackson
Barking Rain Press, April 2014
ISBN:978-1-935460-90-9
Trade Paperback

Several terrific and unusual characters. An unusual and intriguing plot line. A not-so-popular worthwhile setting. Smart dialogue. Those are all the good elements of this novel which features one of the most cranky and short-tempered protagonists this reviewer has ever encountered. Seamus McCree is a brilliant financial forensic analyst. He works for a non-profit that offers security and financial crimes examinations to banks and similar institutions.

He’s spending time recuperating from his last violent encounter in the cold winter woods of the Michigan Upper Peninsula. It gets really cold up there. It’s about -40 when he discovers a naked woman half-frozen on the unheated porch of his cabin. Nursing her away from death begins to reveal an intriguing plot.

Now we get to the questionable and not-so-good parts. Everybody in the book speaks sometimes from their personal point of view. That includes the author-narrator. That can be confusing at times. And it sometimes takes the narrative off on wandering paths through tangled underbrush and that slows the pace when we need a little more push, not less.

Then there is the formatting. Traditional rules of formatting say you either indent paragraphs or you insert a blank line between them, but not both. Moreover, in fiction, readers expect indents, not spaces. I suggest, if readers let that and some other formatting anomalies bother them, they’ll miss an enjoyable reading experience. Generally well-written, there are some logical lapses that made me grind my teeth. In the aggregate however, in spite of a lot of murders, I found that my time reading Cabin Fever was worthwhile.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, August 2014.
Author of Red Sky, Devils Island, Hard Cheese, Reunion.

Book Reviews: A Serpent’s Tooth by Craig Johnson, Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson, and The Wild Beasts of Wuhan by Ian Hamilton

A Serpent's ToothA Serpent’s Tooth
Craig Johnson
Viking, April  2013
ISBN: 978-0-670-02645-6
Trade Paperback

Now in his ninth appearance, Walt Longmire is confronted by dual adversaries when a homeless boy shows up on his doorstep.  The youth, Cord Lynear, has been cast out of a Mormon cult enclave searching for his mother.  Walt discovers that his mother approached the sheriff of an adjoining county, looking for her son.  In attempting to reunite the two, Walt is unable to find the mother, leading him into investigating an interstate polygamy group, well-armed and with something to hide.

It is an intricate plot, one fraught with danger for Walt, his pal Standing Bear (also known as “Cheyenne Nation”) and his deputy (and lover), Victoria Moretti.  I felt Walt’s overdone bravado, and the resulting violent confrontations, were a bit overdone.  But that is Walt.  And TV.

This entry in the Walt Longmire series, now also in a popular TV dramatic form about to enter its second season, appears to be expressly written to provide another episode.  That is not to say it isn’t another well-written novel with all the elements of the Wyoming sheriff’s customary literary observations and acts of derring-do.  It just seems to me that it’s a bit too much of a manufactured plot with an overtone of a popular protagonist and his sidekicks.  That said, the novel is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, September 2013.

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Once We Were BrothersOnce We Were Brothers
Ronald H. Balson
St. Martin’s Griffin, October 2013
ISBN: 978-1-250-04639-0
Trade Paperback

There have been many books about the holocaust and the travails of people under Nazi occupation during World War II, but this novel touches the heart of the reader because essentially it is a love story surrounded by the atrocities and miseries inflicted on the populations of the occupied territories.  It is essentially the story of Ben Solomon and his wife and family.  But, more important, it is the telling of the horrors endured by the Jews in Poland and the beasts that perpetrated them.

The plot begins when Ben, now 82 years old, sees a TV broadcast of a Chicago event and recognizes the person receiving a civic honor, apparently a pillar of society who is well-known as a philanthropist, as a former Nazi SS officer, Otto Piatek.  The reason Ben recognizes him is because the Solomon family gave Otto a home and Ben grew up with him until Otto’s parents took him away and he embraced his new-found status in the National Socialist Party.  Ben is introduced to Catherine Lockhart, an attorney, who comes to embrace Ben’s desire to uncover Otto, now going by the name of Elliot Rosenzweig, a billionaire Chicago insurance magnate, for what he really is, while listening to his story in relation to a lawsuit she is preparing to bring to reclaim jewelry and cash Otto stole from Ben’s family.

Written simply, the book, a first effort by a Chicago lawyer, moves forward steadily, as Catherine attempts to formulate a lawsuit for replevin, while Ben insists on telling her in great detail the trials and tribulations of life under the Nazis.  And it all comes together at the end.  (Parenthetically, I believe the novel would make a great screenplay.)

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2013.

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The Wild Beasts of WuhanThe Wild Beasts of Wuhan
An Ava Lee Novel
Ian Hamilton
Picador, June 2013
ISBN: 978-1-250-03229-4
Trade Paperback

Ava Lee undertakes a most formidable task in this, the second in the series about the forensic accountant who specializes in recovering money for a sizable commission in partnership with her mentor, referred to simply as “Uncle,” a rather mysterious man apparently with triad connections, headquartered in Hong Kong and with deep roots in China.  It seems that Uncle’s boyhood friend, Wong Changxing, a powerful and impressive industrialist, bought about $100 million worth of paintings, 15 out of the 20 being elaborate forgeries, and upon discovering the fact seeks Uncle’s and Ava’s assistance in recovering the money and saving him from embarrassment should the facts become known.

The problem is that the Hong Kong dealer from whom the paintings were purchased ten years before is dead and there are no clues or paperwork to guide Ava in her efforts.  But that hardly is a problem for her, as she pursues tracing the transactions, traveling to Denmark, London, Dublin, the Faroe Islands and New York City and learning a lot about the art world in the process.

Ava Lee is on a par with the best of the female protagonists like Kinsey Milhone and others, while an accountant, but exhibiting all the talents and attributes of a private eye.   She is tough and bold and confident, as she shows us in this latest caper.  We are told that the next novel in the series, expected in January 2014, has her pulling her half-brother’s chestnuts out of the fire.  Looking forward to reading it!

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, December 2013.

Book Reviews: Line of Fire by Stephen White, Lehrter Station by David Downing, and Don’t Cry, Tai Lake by Qiu Xiaolong

Line of FireLine of Fire
Stephen White
Dutton, August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-525-95252-7
Hardcover

In a note the author informs the reader that this is the next-to-the-last novel in the long-running series featuring psychotherapist Alan Gregory.  He intends to complete the series on his own terms because of the changing nature of the book industry with number 20.  Not many authors reach such a conclusion.  Even Ian Rankin had to bring back his popular Rebus protagonist.

And this book definitely sets the stage for that scenario.  The novel introduces a new patient, giving Alan some insights not only into that patient, but himself.  She also complicates his life in unexpected ways, especially as to Diane, his friend and partner.  And as usual, Boulder, CO, plays an important part in the story with brush fires raging and destroying homes.  Lastly, his friend, Detective Sam Purdy and he are exposed to unwanted risk as an old secret surfaces.

The novel slowly builds up as the various characters are brought into focus.  It is an insightful look at Alan Gregory and provides plenty of factors to consider looking forward to how the series will end.  I can’t wait to find out.  (Just an aside: the author says this is the right time to conclude the Gregory story.  Some readers may disagree. But, after all, it’s his decision alone.)

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, February 2013.

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Lehrter StationLehrter Station
David Downing
Soho Crime, March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-61695-220-4
Trade Paperback

Five months after the fall of Berlin, this chronicle of the adventures of John Russell, the Anglo-American journalist, and his paramour, Effi Koene, the actress, continues.  Four previous “Station” novels carried them through the pre-war years in Berlin to Russell’s escape to England.  Now, his former Russian spymaster sort of blackmails him into returning to Berlin as a spy for both the Reds and the Americans. To sugarcoat the request, Effi is offered a starring role in a soon-to-be-made motion picture.

The couple returns to a devastated city, where the only rate of exchange seems to be cigarettes and sex.  No food, housing or other essentials, but a thriving black market.  The story continues with the history of the immediate post-war, including the beginnings of the Cold War and the plight of surviving Jews, with the British reluctance to allow emigration to Palestine and the Zionists’ attempt to get around the roadblocks.

The series is more than just run-of-the-mill espionage stories, but a reflection of the time and people in an era of mass murder and terrible war and its aftermath.  The descriptions of the rubble that was Berlin after the Allied bombings and the Russian rape (it is said that there were as many as 80,000) is terrifying.   And the depiction of the duplicity of the U.S. and Soviet intelligence agencies is despicable, especially when they overlooked Nazi backgrounds when they served a purpose.  Presumably, there is room for a new effort in the series, and we look forward to it.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, March 2013.

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Don't Cry, Tai LakeDon’t Cry, Tai Lake
An Inspector Chen Novel
Qiu Xiaolong
Minotaur Books, April 2013
ISBN: 978-1-250-02158-8
Trade Paperback

While ostensibly a murder mystery, this latest Inspector Chen novel is more a polemic concerning excessive pollution, economic growth at any cost and the political and social system in China today.  Still, it is so well-written, filled with poetic references as an integral part of the whole, that it is a worthy addition to the series.

Initially, Chen is invited to spend some vacation time at an exclusive resort for upper cadre (of which he isn’t one) by his mentor in Beijing who was scheduled to use a villa there.  So, right off the bat, the author offers observations on how the upper layers of officials benefit, while the rest of the population doesn’t have such luxuries.  Then Chen learns that the once pure waters of Tai Lake have become so polluted that fish are destroyed, the water can’t be drunk and even causes illness to inhabitants.  The pollution is caused by industrial waste, unimpeded in the interest of profits and “progress.”

No sooner does Chen arrive than the general manager of a large chemical company is found murdered and Chen becomes involved, without disclosing himself as a Chief Inspector, in an unofficial investigation.  He learns about the pollution from a young female engineer, and works behind the façade of a local policeman, observing, questioning and deducting in typical Chen fashion, including a long T.S. Elliot-type poem about the lake.  Other than the murder solution, the criticism of societal and economic conditions in China is anything but subtle.  [I wonder if the novel will ever be translated into Chinese.]  Here, it is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, April 2013.

Book Review: Red Cell by Mark Henshaw

Red CellRed Cell
Mark Henshaw
Touchstone, May 2012
ISBN 978-1-4516-6193-4
Hardcover

This debut thriller pits the intelligence services and the military of the United States, Taiwan, and China against each other. Red Cell is full of secret agents, traitors, and politicians willing to go to any lengths to get what they want. There’s the cast of characters I expected to find in this type of tale with some extra goodies thrown into the mix.

After a botched mission in South America, case officer Kyra Stryker sees in her immediate future a vacation to recover both physically and to wonder whether she still will have a job afterward. However, she is called in by the CIA director who wants her to pair up with an analyst in a special section of the organization known as Red Cell. Jonathan Burke usually works alone and thinks outside the box but now he has a new partner in Stryker. The assignment: figure out what’s behind China’s increased hostility against Taiwan. Negotiations to bring Taiwan fully under China’s umbrella of control have fallen apart and the Red Menace is rattling more than swords. Burke and Stryker think the Communists have a secret weapon that could decimate America’s resistance to the takeover. The answer may lie in a mole working within China’s machinations with the code name Pioneer. However, when Pioneer finds himself in danger of being caught, Stryker and Burke are called in for the rescue. Time is of the essence for not only Pioneer and the CIA operatives, but for the growing conflict between China and America.

Red Cell is red hot! Bouncing from political offices in Washington to the mean and dangerous streets of Beijing to international waters where Navy ships await the word go, this book covers all the bases. Enough mystery that kept me guessing and enough tension that had me turning pages with eagerness. Stryker and Burke make an excellent pair that work well together. With his brains and her knack for squeaking out of potentially deadly situations, they provide the nucleus to a well written story which thriller writers should respect.

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

Book Reviews: The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman and Wishful Thinking by Alexandra Bullen

The Fire Horse GirlThe Fire Horse Girl
Kay Honeyman
Arthur A. Levine Books, January 2013
ISBN 978-0-545-40310-8
Hardcover

In China, your astrological sign is a combination of one of the twelve animal signs and an element.  A Fire Horse will only appear once in every sixty years.  This is a good thing.  The Fire amplifies the Horse’s most distasteful traits: stubbornness, selfishness and volatile temper.  A Fire Horse girl, particularly one born in the early twentieth century, has little hope of conforming to the expectations held for a Chinese lady.

Jade Moon is a Fire Horse girl.  At a blush, she appears spirited, spunky.  In today’s world, a female with those traits could be adorable, desirable even.  Such is not the case in China in the 1920s.  Jade Moon is 17 years old and it is very difficult for her family to arrange a marriage.  No one is willing to tolerate her sharp tongue, and, most certainly, no one wants to subject themselves to the Bad Luck she brings.

When a stranger, Sterling Promise, appears to speak to her father, of course she makes no effort to curb her brashness.  Soon, her father announces that he and Sterling Promise will be venturing to America, and that she would accompany them.  Jade Moon knew of the freedom that Americans enjoyed, and the endless opportunities they had.  It would have to be better than home.

Jade Moon was wrong.  Before even boarding the ship, she became aware of her father and Sterling Promise sharing secrets.  She quickly learned not to trust Sterling Promise.  The few ladies on the ship told her things that she refused to believe.  Her time spent on Angel Island was horrific; her departure brave and bold, and quite crazy.  Jade Moon’s determination to make a new life for herself in San Francisco’s Chinatown is courageous and admirable.  Her challenges seem insurmountable, but her quick mind and newly acquired skills help her survive.  Sterling Promise’s random appearances make survival even more challenging.  As Jade Moon plows her way into a new life, she learns that, to achieve true happiness, she will have to begin to trust; she will have to put her heart on the line.

The Fire Horse Girl is a fabulously written story.  While Jade Moon and Sterling Promise are fictitious characters, many of the details are true.  The deplorable conditions, alongside beautiful, heart-wrenching poetry detailed on Angel Island, is real.  “Paper families” were created.  The Chinese “gangs” existed.  Even the stories that Jade Moon loved to hear and to tell are adaptations from various Chinese Folktales.  I think that Ms. Honeyman is outstanding in crafting such a fantastic tale around historical facts that are not well-known, but probably should be.

Reviewed by jv poore, February 2013.

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Wishful ThinkingWishful Thinking
Alexandra Bullen
Point, January 2011
ISBN 978-0-545-13907-6
Hardcover

We are all familiar with stories involving Three Wishes.  We even know most of The Rules: no wishing for more wishes, can’t make someone fall in love with you, no bringing someone back from the dead….it is a concept that we can grasp.  But, what if you didn’t even know that you had been granted three wishes?  At least, not until your quietly murmured, oft repeated, “first” wish comes true.

Wishful Thinking is told from the viewpoint of Hazel, beginning on her eighteenth birthday.  We quickly learn that Hazel’s life, until this point, has consisted of moving around.  From foster home to foster home, periodically reconnecting with her “sort-of” step-dad, Hazel has yet to sink her roots. She has no place to call home.

Two magic words, shared on the morning of her birthday, manage to give her hope.  She has a chance to pursue answers to the questions that plague her.  Finally, she may be able to figure out who she is.

An encounter with a surly seamstress, immediately followed by the knowledge of the loss of someone she never had, leave Hazel broken and dejected.  Little does she know, as she murmurs the wish, once again voicing the only thing she has ever truly wanted, Fate smiles on her.

A trip back in time is probably the last thing Hazel expected, but indubitably the one thing she needed most.  Ms. Bullen writes of Hazel’s self-discovery and difficult choices in a way that brings the reader right into the fold.  This sweet, tender and fulfilling book is a quick and compelling read.

Reviewed by jv poore, December 2012.

Book Reviews: Safe Harbor by Rosemary McCracken, Revenge from Beyond by Dennis Wong, and Mannheim Rex by Robert Pobi

Safe HarborSafe Harbor
Rosemary McCracken
Imajin Books, April 2012
ISBN 9781926997452
Trade Paperback

Family is very important. Rosemary McCracken‘s suspense filled mystery shows us the value of family ties, especially when the unexpected happens. Set in around the New Year in frozen Canada, this book brings in various issues of family life with the overlying mystery of murder and killers on the loose.

Pat Tierney’s world is full of her two daughters, a new boyfriend, her dog Maxie, and her Toronto based financial investment career. Her world gets turned upside down when a strange woman leaves a five year old boy at her office claiming he is Pat’s late husband’s son. When the woman is murdered and the boy’s family is apathetic about the boy’s plight, Pat ends up caring for the child. The police suspect the killer is also out to get the boy and wouldn’t hesitate to remove any other obstacles. Digging into the case, Pat finds a connection with a refuge for immigrants seeking citizenship. Against the advice from her new boyfriend and the police to stay out of the case, she can’t help but be involved, especially when danger seeks her out.

There doesn’t seem to be any Safe Harbor in this book for the main character. It’s a tale where the average person delves into being an amateur private investigator. I liked the links with Pat’s investment firm, the clients, her coworkers, and the influential people in her life such as her daughters and boyfriend. McCracken does a good job with showing family values in some of the subplots. It’s a fast but enjoyable read.

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

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Revenge from BeyondRevenge from Beyond
Dennis Wong
Proverse Hong Kong, January 2012
ISBN 978-988-19935-1-9
Ebook
Also available in trade paperback

Take a trip back to ancient China’s Tang Dynasty. Where the Emperor rules and those under him speak in his name. Lawlessness is still common and murder abounds, for all the usual reasons. The same holds true for politics and corruption.

Quan Wu-Meng is just beginning his leadership in the Sui-chou District’s court. Almost immediately, the young judge encounters a murder. A struggling painter is found dead in his bed and Quan, along with the Coroner, begins the investigation. Quan must connect the following evidence: missing paintings, a political candidate with a shady background, and most intriguing, a dream begging for interpretation. The situation intensifies when the body of a rice merchant is discovered after an arson. However, there are more surprises ahead. Can Quan figure out the clues before those in power remove him from office?

Although I’m wary of mysteries set in foreign locales, this one was a quick and enjoyable read. The Chinese culture is explored, but I felt very in tune with the characters. This is a simple story with the culprits fairly easy to deduce. However, there are some very interesting bits of deduction, including a fascinating experiment to determine how a corpse didn’t die from a fire. The punishment for guilty parties is very extreme, but we’re talking about Imperial China. I’d love to read more Quan.

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

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Mannheim RexMannheim Rex
Robert Pobi
Thomas & Mercer, November 2012
ISBN 9781612184487
Trade Paperback
Also available in Kindle format

A monster fish. A depressed writer. A boy with a dream of becoming famous. A sheriff with some serious sociopath issues. These all combine to make for an excellent thriller by Robert Pobi. Don’t expect this to be some cheap Jaws knock-off. This goes so much, uh, deeper.

Gavin Whitaker Corlie, horror novelist, is a widower who can’t seem to get over his wife’s death. Contemplating suicide, he decides to move out of the crazy city. Buying a house in upstate New York on the shore of Lake Caldasac, he settles in to get his life together. Within a few days he encounters Finn Horn, a teenage fishing enthusiast who is slowly dying of cancer. All is not serene in the community lost in time. There have been strange disappearances on the lake and the local sheriff is not a big fan of rich city slickers. With more people missing and dying, danger lurking from local law enforcement, and winter approaching, Corlie and Finn make plans to capture the monster in the lake.

Pobi is a magician with words. His vivid descriptions took me lakeside and alongside with Corlie and Finn as they trolled on the water. This is a novel to display in any collection. Pobi is an author other authors need to read to learn how to write. The only disappointment about the book is that it had to end…or does it? Don’t think it’s over because the last chapter will shock your senses.

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