Book Reviews: Drag Teen by Jeffrey Self and The Arrow Shooter by James Mather

Drag Teen
Jeffery Self
Push, May 2016
ISBN 978-0-545-82993-9
Hardcover

Remember the first time you released your inner-most self?  Knowing you, to your very core; adoring and admiring that person so much it had to be celebrated—the joyful, buoyant feeling had to be released, good vibes to everyone.  Imagine being in that moment when a hate-filled, bitter person brings contempt so tangible that the light is smothered; the joy stolen.  Because most of us have experienced that, it is almost intuitive to empathize with JT’s predicament.

His parents do not support his desire to attend college after high school.  They appear offended by his plan, as if his ambition is as an affront to the lives they lead.  Rather than seeing and hearing their son, they seem to have created a persona of an ungrateful, arrogant brat that is easy to dismiss.  But JT has Seth, and Seth has a plan.

A Drag Teen pageant is being held for high school seniors needing financial aid for college; the prize—a full scholarship.  The idea of being a Drag Teen doesn’t bother JT; the terror of doing it again, with the same results is paralyzing.  With the support of his boyfriend, their best friend Heather and an assortment of souls along the way, JT tackles the terror.

I was amused, delighted and entirely invested in this story.  The combination of blue-collar parents, an over-the-top, former country music sensation, teen-agers and Drag Queens is quirky in the best possible ways and works wonderfully for JT’s journey to New York City and self discovery.

Reviewed by jv poore, December 2016.

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The Arrow Shooter
Jim Mather
CreateSpace, September 2015
ISBN: 978-0-692-46617-9
Trade Paperback

The novel has enormous unrealized potential to provide a long look into what is sometimes referred to as the inscrutable East. Yakuza target Jonathan Lusk leaves Japan and his professional activities as a special undercover operative and enrolls at Stanford University. He is following his father’s trail and seeking the murderer of his father.

Of course his life is complicated by his growing infatuation, a forbidden love for Princess Nanami Yoritomo. A non-Japanese and a commoner, the love between the couple is overladen with difficulties. The campus atmosphere in the 1960s, the threat of a killer stalking Lusk, the efforts of the romantic couple to develop their relationship, all offer great opportunity for emotional soaring narrative.

Alas, the writing is competent, straight forward, efficient and flat. Although we are surely meant to identify with the young couple, the lack of emotion tends to set barriers so we never fully empathize with Jonathan or his princess. On the other hand, the narrative passages that reveal much about Japanese culture are quite interesting. In sum, an interesting read for those who wish to look more closely at a specific cultural element of the East.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, April 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.

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Book Review: Deadly Shore by Andrew Cunningham

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Title: Deadly Shore
Author: Andrew Cunningham
Narrator: Greg Hernandez
Publication Date: January 31, 2017

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Purchase Links:

Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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Deadly Shore
Andrew Cunningham
Andrew Cunningham, January 2017
Narrated by Greg Hernandez
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

It’s July 5th, and the Cape Cod roadways are clogged with tourists heading home from the holiday weekend and trying to outrun an approaching potentially catastrophic hurricane. But in the blink of an eye, their lives are thrown into chaos when terrorists bring down the bridges to the Cape. Instantly, a half million terrified people have no way to escape. And when the terrorists threaten to release anthrax on the captive population if their demands aren’t met, fear turns to all-out panic.

With time running out, Marcus Baldwin, a private investigator and former CIA operative, and Sara Cross, a disgraced ex-homicide detective, are brought together by a sole clue to the identity of the terrorists. They quickly realize that they may be the only ones with even a chance at stopping the plot before it’s too late.

With Hurricane Chad barreling up the coast on a path for a direct hit on Cape Cod, it becomes frighteningly clear to everyone trapped on what has now become an island – one way or another they are probably all going to die.

A while back, probably 15  or 20 years, there seemed to be a lot of natural disaster novels  and I snatched up every one of them I could find. They’ve been pretty scarce since then so, when I read the description of Deadly Shore, I had to have it and I mean to tell you, this is a good one. Not only do we have an approaching hurricane that keeps growing in strength, we also have a nifty terrorist crime going on. The hurricane doesn’t actually play a large physical role; it’s the looming threat of the storm that matters to the people on Cape Cod.

The hallmark of a good disaster novel is that all kinds of things happen that are beyond the pale, so to speak, definitely over the top and without much basis in reality. To truly enjoy it, you have to be willing to put aside your inclination to look for what doesn’t make sense and just go with the flow. Carrying out the dastardly plot in this book is as disbelief-suspending as it gets from the initial plan itself to the acquisition of the necessary materials to finding just the right group of henchmen to controlling all the pieces parts…well, you get the idea. Oh, and don’t forget the plethora of coincidences that not only bring together a former CIA operative and a disgraced cop but allow them to come across the perfect clues just when they need to. And I loved every minute of it 😉

As for the narration, a funny thing happened on the way to the finish. Usually, I’m very aware of the narrator’s ability to differentiate characters but, this time, I got all the way to the end before I noticed that Mr. Hernandez didn’t do such a great job with voices. And you know what? It didn’t matter. Mr. Hernandez has a really pleasing tone and is easy to listen to plus he has the ability to convey the tension and sense of doom a book like this needs. I might not  be able to quickly identify a character by the voice but Mr. Cunningham’s dialogue is written in such a manner as to let me know who’s talking when.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Deadly Shore and found myself hanging out in my driveway because I wanted to hear what would happen next. That, my friends, is a sign of an exciting audiobook, don’t you think?

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2017.

About the Author
Andrew Cunningham

I was born in England, but have spent most of my life living in the U.S.—including  25 years on Cape Cod before moving to Florida. A former interpreter for the deaf and long-time independent bookseller, I’ve been a full-time freelance writer and copy editor for many years. A 4th-degree Master Blackbelt in Tang Soo Do, I finally retired from active training when my body said, “Enough already! Why are you doing this to yourself?” I’m married, with two grown children and two awesome grandsons. My wife and I spend as much time traveling as we can, and are especially fond of cruising the Caribbean.

​I have been gratified by the response to my books. When I published Eden Rising back in the spring of 2013, I had no idea what to expect. When I sold my first few copies, I was excited beyond belief that someone was willing to take a chance on it. Numerous books and thousands of copies later, I am still humbled by the emails I get from readers telling me that my books kept them up late into the night.

In October of 2014, Wisdom Spring made me an official Amazon Bestselling author, a thrill I never thought would happen. But it still comes down to being able to bring a few hours of escape to a reader. That’s what it’s all about for me.

WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreadsAmazon

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About the Narrator
Greg Hernandez

For more than 20 years I worked as a radio news reporter and news writer.  I spent half of my broadcasting career at ABC News Radio in the Washington, D.C., bureau.  I covered all the federal agencies as well as Congress and the White House.  I reported on a wide range of stories during my career, including financial and entertainment industry news.

I have worked as a federal government spokesman at three separate agencies for more than 20 years.  At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, U.S. Commerce Department), I introduced podcasting in 2005 just a few weeks before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States.  The 19 podcasts I narrated and produced from August 2005 to June 2007 were downloaded more than 600,000 times during that period.  They’re still online at the following link.

http://www.noaa.gov/podcasts/podcast-archive.html

I enjoy narrating audio books because it gives me great satisfaction bringing to life books of all genres, especially mysteries and thrillers.

TwitterACX

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Play an excerpt here.

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Follow the tour:

Jun. 21st:
Kristina Stanley (Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)

Jun. 22nd:
Dab of Darkness (Review)
Buried Under Books (Review)

Jun. 23rd:
CGB Blog Tours (Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)
The Bookworm Lodge (Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)

Jun. 24th:
A Book and A Latte (Review)

Jun. 25th:
Lomeraniel (Review, Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)
Jorie Loves A Story (Review)

Jun. 26th:
Between the Coverz (Review, Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)
Bound 4 Escape (Review)
Audio Audits (Review)

Jun. 27th:
Hall Ways (Review, Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)
The Book Addict’s Reviews (Review, Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)

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Book Reviews: The Bid by Adrian Magson and Jacqueline by Jackie Minniti

the-bidThe Bid
A Cruxys Solutions Investigation #2
Adrian Magson
Midnight Ink Books, January 2017
ISBN: 978073875043
Trade Paperback

Modern warfare is a featured bit player in this novel of suspense. The story opens a window on a rich theme of warfare and crime in the coming twenty-first century and beyond. Indeed, one of the problems with the novel is the number of possibilities it raises for both criminals and law enforcement.

The target is no less than the President of the United States and the process of funding and carrying out the assassination is a clever idea rooted in very modern financial life. The author, an experienced British crime-novelist, has written over a dozen thrillers, most would be classed as spy or conspiracy thrillers. The action is tension-filled, mostly consistent and relentless. The writing is top-notch, the characters are mostly interesting and/or intriguing and the settings are appropriate.

A business consultant with operations in the US and overseas has a specialized insurance contract on his life. If he goes missing for a short period of time, unusually trained operatives go active, searching for the client and setting up protection for the client’s family. It sounds expensive and I wanted more explanation of the basis for the character, James Chadwick, to buy what must have been an expensive policy. The policy is administered by a company called Cruxys. This interesting security policy allows the writer to introduce a pair of company operatives who soon fly off to the US where most of the action takes place.

Over several chapters we learn that the company seekers, Ruth Gonzales and Andy Vasilk, have unusual and relevant training and employment backgrounds, including the ability to take lives when necessary to protect their employer and themselves. It is easy to see the range of possibilities for this free-wheeling pair to get into trouble and to rescue clients from a wide range of dangerous circumstances.

Were it not for the author’s penchant for slipping strong critical editorial commentary into the narrative voice from time to time, the pace of the novel would make this book truly a compelling page turner. One wonders if there is anything about American life he finds favor for. In spite of these asides, The Bid is enjoyable, attention-holding and well-worth the readers’ time.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, December 2016.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

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jacquelineJacqueline
Jackie Minniti
Anaiah Press, July 2015
ISBN
Trade Paperback

Jacqueline Falna of the title is a French child, twelve years of age, living in Rennes, France. When the story opens, in 1943, she and her mother have just learned that her father, a French aviator, is missing in action. Now they must cope with poverty, the Nazi occupiers, the coming of American forces all while maintaining a semblance of normal chiildhood.

Jacqueline, bright, energetic, with all the attributes one hopes to observe in a daughter or niece, is desolated by the news, but holds to the thread of possibility that her father may have been captured and will one day, after the war return to their home in Rennes. When a nearby family of Jews is abruptly taken away, the boy, David, remains and is hidden by Jacqueline’s family with help from neighbors.

In a simple, straight-forward style, through the eyes of this twelve year old child, we follow her daily challenges to help her mother find food, keep themselves warm in the winter and for Jacqueline, school and church. The novel is written for a middle school audience but the author’s craft does not pander, assuming readers may occasionally have to struggle with the language and some of the more mature considerations.

This is a fine, realistic novel, very well balanced with tragedy, happiness and it will not only engage readers in this age range. It also provides a way for young people to learn something about World War Two on an important personal level. Finally, after reading the novel, you may want to remind yourself of the name of the author.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, July 2016.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: Thirst by Katherine Prairie

thirstThirst
An Alex Graham Novel #1
Katherine Prairie
Stonedrift Press, February 2016
ISBN 978-0-9949377-0-4
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Explosive violence rocks Canada’s Slocan Valley after the shooting deaths of three teenagers in a bombing attempt at the Keenleyside dam. A joint U.S.-Canada military force locks down the Valley to protect Columbia River dams critical to both countries but martial law incites more violence.

Geologist Alex Graham refuses to let politics stand in her way. She evades military patrols to slip into a restricted zone in her hunt for a silver mine to claim as her own. But her plans are derailed by an intentionally set fire that almost takes her life.

Someone wants her out of the Slocan Valley.

When Alex discovers a gunshot victim in an abandoned mine, she fears she could be next. But she s never been one to wait for trouble to come to her and she tracks a suspicious man seen once too often in the lonely mountains.

All eyes are on the dams, but the true threat lies elsewhere.

Every now and then, very rarely, a story grabs me by the throat from the first page and doesn’t let go until the end. Such a story is Thirst by Katherine Prairie and I’m here to tell you, if you’re looking for a thriller with heart and a darned good mystery, this one needs to go on your Christmas wishlist right now.

I won’t waste a lot of time delving into the plot—you can get that from the jacket copy and other reviews—but I’ll just say Ms. Prairie knows how to do plot as well as all the trappings that should go with it but often don’t. First, there’s the opening setting in which we learn that this is a place subject to fearful weather, something that always sends shivers down my spine whether it’s warm or cold. Then there are the remote locations so common to Alex’s work as a geologist and the ferocious pressure that comes with hunting down gold and silver deposits. In this particular instance, political machinations, Canadian-US relations, an overbearing US military, a driving need for revenge, an attack on a critical resource and a potential for bioterrorism all mesh together to produce murder and intrigue that initially seems over the top but is, in fact, all too possible.

Alex herself is a bit of an enigma and, yet, we know enough to realize right off the bat that here is a woman who is nearly fearless though guarded, making her way in what’s usually considered a man’s field. She tries to live by certain self-imposed rules such as keeping a low profile but, when she can’t, she goes after the answers needed. As an investigator, Alex is intelligent and open to possibilities while protective of the endangered people and environment. In short, she’s the kind of investigator who isn’t shackled by professional restrictions and, as such, she can and does go the extra mile.

Thirst is Katherine Prairie‘s first novel and I hope to see much more of Alex Graham in the future. This author and her protagonist are too good not to be around for a long time and, in the meantime, this first adventure is going on my list of favorite books read in 2016.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2016.

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katherine-prairieKatherine, a geologist and IT specialist, stepped away from the international petroleum industry to follow her passion for writing. An avid traveller with an insatiable curiosity, you never know where you’ll find her next! But most days, she’s in Vancouver, Canada, quietly plotting murder and mayhem under the watchful eye of a cat. She is an award-winning presenter and the author of the thriller THIRST.

www.katherineprairie.com

www.facebook.com/katherine.prairie

www.twitter.com/authorprairie

Buy links for Thirst:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Sense of Place

I passed by a downtown corner the other day, a location I hadn’t visited in a few months, only to find that nothing looked familiar. The coffee shop, the clothing store, the restaurant I knew so well – all were gone, replaced by a plywood and chain link fence protected construction zone.

It reminded me of the challenge of writing about real places, something I’ve chosen to do in my mysteries. I want my reader to believe that the story I’m telling could happen tomorrow, and a certain amount of realism is necessary to accomplish that.

Although I visit most of the places I write about, it’s not enough. A fire can destroy a landmark building, or as happened to my corner, urban renewal can change the landscape. So how to work with real locations in fiction, especially when even careful research may not be enough?

I admit to a certain vagueness in my descriptions of stores, and restaurants. Although I can generally count on a street name, civic building or hospital to remain relatively unchanged over time, businesses come and go, even without construction! But sometimes it’s necessary to take a risk, especially if a location plays a key role in a mystery.

Thirst wouldn’t have been the same story in any other location than the Slocan Valley in southeastern British Columbia near the U.S. border with Washington, and the city of Nelson is at its centre. Nelson is a unique, special place that has its quirky side, and it was as much a character in Thirst as Alex Graham and Eric Keenan! And so, I chose to name both a well-known coffee shop and restaurant, because the coffee shop especially, is an intrinsic part of Nelson and it conveys the true essence of the city.

Many authors set their stories in fictional cities or locations that are just similar enough to real locations that they work as successful substitutes. An unnamed bedroom community outside of San Francisco that resembles Sausalito or Oakland in everything but name, or a Texan town near sprawling cattle ranches, that could be Austin, Laredo or a dozen others. These types of settings allow a reader to conclude that this place must be the city or town they know so well, but because it is never identified as such, they forgive the author’s use of non-existent names.

There’s also a sense of place that can be suggested by general locations, like Stephen King’s use of fictitious small towns in Maine. There’s an attitude and way of life in Maine that he builds on that doesn’t require the use of a specific town.

Other authors take the plunge and generously sprinkle real places into their story. It’s a gamble because you can all-too quickly date your story, and not every business will thank you for naming them. It’s important to remember that a grisly murder in a café, or a poisoning death in a romantic restaurant, can bring irreparable damage to those businesses.

If I use a real business, I always try to put it in the most positive light possible. In addition, I take the time to ask permission from the business owner, including the story synopsis and the specific excerpt in which the business is named, with my request. Generally, I’ve found them to be very supportive and down-right excited by the prospect of inclusion in a locally-set thriller, however it doesn’t always turn out that way. A winery surprised me by declining permission for a single mention of their excellent chardonnay as a romantic dinner choice, but I understood their reasoning. They had worked hard to create a brand and they wanted to protect it, and that meant that they took extreme care as to where and how their wines were mentioned. This particular winery told me that they had even turned down several movie producers too, so I was in good company!

The nature of my mysteries requires real locations, but a small detail like a local winery isn’t going to make or break the story. I’ve come to weigh each choice carefully, to risk naming real businesses, street corners, parks and other elements, only if they’re truly important to the character of the location. Otherwise I retreat to vagueness and leave the rest to my reader’s imagination.

Katherine Prairie

Book Review: Bullet in the Blue Sky by Bill Larkin

Bullet in the Blue SkyBullet in the Blue Sky
Bill Larkin
William Larkin, July 2016
ISBN 978-0-9894002-1-3Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

In the chaotic aftermath of a massive earthquake that leveled much of the Los Angeles region, a LAPD deputy chief sends an elite team of detectives on a rescue mission. They are ordered to set aside all law enforcement duties, to ignore the destruction and to focus on one task: Find LAPD Detective Gavin Shaw, who disappeared just before the earthquake.

Kevin “Schmitty” Schmidt of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department joins five others on the rescue team. With rioting, looting, attacks and homicides rampant in the streets, the six cops have to defend themselves while chasing down leads on the whereabouts of Shaw. The mission takes them through the dizzying war zone and the more they encounter, the more they wonder why they are searching for one man in these extreme circumstances. Why is this man so important to the deputy chief, and why now?

Schmitty discovers that others with high connections are also after Shaw. The questions pile even higher when they learn of a shadowy history between Shaw and the deputy chief. A history with deadly consequences for the team as they uncover a threat that elevates the mission to a race against time.

From the moment I began reading Bullet in the Blue Sky, I was captivated by this story in a myriad of ways. The core premise, that this hodgepodge group of law enforcement officers is tasked with finding one particular detective after the earthquake hits, is a fresh idea (to me, at least) and the author does a fantastic job of melding their mission with the horrible aftermath of the quake. Gang warfare erupts, looting is rampant, and the sheer effort involved in getting anywhere through the massive damage seems as true to life as I could want, never having been in such a situation myself.

The tension rarely lets up and that alone would have kept me turning pages but I also was really drawn to this band of people who can be seen as heroes but who actually are just doing the job they’ve dedicated their lives to. Each one is vividly drawn, especially Schmitty and Mata, and each has his or her own strengths and vulnerabilities, even the quite unlikeable Anderson. I wanted to know not only what would happen to them but also how they would accomplish their goal.

As for the reason behind their search and rescue mission, the reader knows only a tiny bit more than they do and it’s just enough to whet the appetite. I had my own theories but had to keep looking in different directions as more information slowly came to light. When all was said and done, Mr. Larkin’s details took me by surprise page after page until the very end. Even the explanation of the book’s title is filled with meaning.

My only quibble is that some things seem to happen a bit too easily. For instance, they’re in the midst of a disaster and looting is severe but at no point are they unable to find food, water or medical supplies. Granted, the choices might be limited to chips and over-the-counter painkillers but it’s unrealistic to think that such things would still be on the shelves in a looted convenience store or school cafeteria. Still, this was just a minor blip in an otherwise tightly woven story.

Mr. Larkin drew me in initially with two of my favorite themes, law enforcement and disasters, and he never let me down along the way, filling his tale with twists and turns and creating situations that test loyalty and ingenuity while being realistic about what would happen to society after such a major quake. I couldn’t ask for more and Bullet in the Blue Sky will be on my list of favorite books read in 2016.

Note: the author doesn’t seem to categorize his writings as a series but both Schmitty and Mata can be found in earlier work and I’ll be checking them out whenever they become available through an epub retailer.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2016.

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Goodreads

Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble Buy Button     Kobo Buy Button     Amazon Buy Button

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An Excerpt from Bullet in the Blue Sky

The adjunct lieutenant moved into the conference room and stood behind Jenkins and off to the side. Jenkins now addressed our five–person team.

“Your orders are to find Detective Gavin Shaw. He’s a member of Major Crimes and I need him here or I need to know where he is. That’s it. Nothing more.”

As Jenkins paused, several of the detectives looked at each other. Anderson opened her mouth. “Is he—“

Jenkins put up a hand. “You are not, repeat not, to take on law enforcement duties. You are not out to arrest looters, answer radio calls, help firefighters, or anything else you think you ought to be doing. Your only assignment is to find Shaw. And find him as fast as you possibly can. Am I clear?”

“Can I ask the importance of Detective Shaw at this juncture?” Mata said.

“No, you may not. Find him and bring him to me.”

“A search-and-rescue mission?” Anderson said in a puzzled tone.

“Call it that, Anderson. Lieutenant Tallon is in charge and you’d better be aware of what you’re facing. This city is falling apart. Aside from the destruction, there are forty-five thousand gang members, and at least that same number of state parolees and felons on probation. Then there are the opportunists who will loot, burglarize, and kill without the police to stop them. That’s probably a hundred fifty thousand bad guys in a city of rubble and fire.”

Jenkins let that number sink in a moment. The man projected political polish, as I would expect from somebody of his rank, but he didn’t hide his edgy urgency.

He went on. “The LAPD has almost ten thousand sworn, but who knows how many are still alive, much less how many can physically get mobilized. Break that down into twelve-hour shifts and there might be two thousand cops in the whole city at any given time. Three thousand if we’re lucky.”

Lieutenant Tallon said, “Sir that makes the odds against the LAPD about sixty-to-one.” His voice carried both cordiality and self-assurance.

Jenkins nodded. “That’s right. But you will be undercover. Plain clothes and a plain vehicle.”

“Where is Shaw?” Anderson asked.

“I don’t know.” Jenkins nodded to his adjunct who stepped forward and handed a folder to Tallon, then stepped back. “Here is his address and personal information. Best guess is home, but start wherever you need to and find the man.”

Anderson made a small snort. “What if he’s dead?”

“You find him, either way.”

One thing was for sure. Jenkins wasn’t sugarcoating the assignment.

“What about help from the outside?” I asked.

“In time. They’ll mobilize the National Guard and we’ll get relief and search-and-rescue teams, but it’ll take days.”

Tallon said, “We’ll be mostly on our own for the first forty-eight hours. Keep in mind just about every other city in Southern California has the same problems. Some worse, some better.”

“Jesus,” Anderson said.

Tallon said, “Chief, you’ll be here? We bring Shaw here?”

“At this time, I am in command of the department. The chief, assistant and other deputy chiefs have not yet been in contact. That means I’m the Director of Emergency Operations until further notice. That’s all. Dismissed.”

Jenkins motioned to Tallon to follow him and they stepped outside of the conference room with the adjunct lieutenant close behind. Tallon stood about six inches taller than the deputy chief, but Jenkins didn’t seem the least bit intimidated.

The doorway stayed open and I stood up, keeping my back to them, but close enough to hear.

“Lieutenant, I don’t know you very well, but I’ll tell you this with certainty. This is the most difficult challenge you’ll ever face on this job. I was told you have the intellect, resourcefulness, and tenacity to carry this out. Do not disappoint me.”

I heard Jenkins walk away. When I turned, Tallon had locked eyes with the other lieutenant. A beat later, she hurried after her boss.

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About the Author

Bill LarkinBill Larkin writes crime fiction and is the author of two highly-acclaimed books: Bullet in the Blue Sky and Detective Lessons. He has also written several short stories, including “The Highlands” and “Shadow Truth”, both Amazon category bestsellers. Bill previously served as a reserve with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, then the Los Angeles Police Department where he worked in four different divisions and a detective assignment. Bill is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers.

Catch Up With Mr. Larkin:

Bill Larkin’s Website: http://bill-larkin.com/
Bill Larkin’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriteThrillers

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Follow the tour:

08/01 Showcase @ Rockin Book Reviews
08/02 Interview @ Writers and Authors
08/17 Review @ Buried Under Books
08/18 Showcase @ The Reading Frenzy
08/20 Review @ Book Reviews from an Avid Reader
08/22 Review @ the Blacksheep Project
08/24 Guest Post & Showcase @ The Book Divas Reads
08/25 Review @ Mystery Suspense Reviews
08/26 Review @ Deal Sharing Aunt
08/28 Showcase @ Writers and Authors
08/29 Review & Interview @ Building Bookshelves
08/30 Review @ Book Reviews, Nature Pictues and Everything in Between
08/31 Review @ just reviews
09/01 Review @ fundinmental
09/03 Review @ b00k r3vi3ws
09/05 Interview @ BooksChatter
09/06 Review @ Wall-to-wall books
09/07 Review & Showcase @ CMash Reads
09/08 Guest Post @ b00k r3vi3ws
09/15 Review @ Rockin Book Reviews
09/24 Review @ A Bookaholic Swede
10/20 Blog Talk Radio w/Fran Lewis

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Partners in Crime Book Tours

Book Reviews: The King of Fear by Drew Chapman and The Vulture by Frederick Ramsay

The King of FearThe King of Fear
A Garrett Reilly Thriller
Drew Chapman
Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, February 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4767-2591-8
Trade Paperback

A rousing episodic thriller with thoughtful implications for today’s economic world. Smoothly written and discerning readers can tell after just a few chapters that the author has written for series television. The structure of the novel falls neatly into segments with alarm, partial resolution and danger or abrupt cliff-hanger, every few chapters. That isn’t a bad thing, even if it gets predictable.

Readers of thriller fiction and television crime series aficionados will recognize many of the characters assembled in these pages to help the protagonist, Garrett Reilly, meet and best an insidious foreign plotter who is attempting to destroy America’s economy in one massive attack. The novel ranges over the entire world allowing readers to experience both spare and flowery location descriptions and to introduce a large number of unusual and talented characters. Character descriptions with background information is plentiful throughout the book as are a large number of competing organizations.

Lead defender, Garrett Reilly, is wanted by the FBI and the New York Police as a person of interest in the murder of the president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. While dodging law enforcement, Reilly goes back to work for the Federal government as the only economist with the talent and intelligence to possibly save the nation’s economy from this massive attack. He leads a group of rag-tag hackers, thinkers and off-the-grid creative young people called Ascendant, a secret government experiment in cyber exploration.

It all has the frightening feel of reality and real possibility. A good solid thriller.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, April 2016.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

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The VultureThe Vulture
An Ike Schwartz Mystery #10
Frederick Ramsay
Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0476-0
Hardcover

This tenth book in the Ike Schwartz series sends Ike and his college president wife Ruth into turbulent hiding from a wealthy, vengeful oligarch. A huge bomb destroys the sheriff’s vehicle and soon another explosion of a large propane tank eliminates his cabin in the woods where his wife, Ruth, is said to be hiding. Ike and Ruth are believed to be dead.

The cliché, ‘ripped from the headlines,’ is very appropriate here. A ruthless, obscenely wealthy oligarch who believes himself to be the savior of a failing nation, has created a kingdom on a huge private tract of land. From this base he hopes, one day, to launch a government takeover. The kingdom is located in, of all places, Idaho. Martin Pangborn’s radical racist militia has been dubbed the Fifty-first Star. He is the classic case of the public ultra-conservative hiding the most despicable of slimy self-indulgent beings. The intellectual duel between the sheriff of Picketsville and the bad guys is almost biblical in its structure and resolution.

All the characters fans of the Ike Schwartz crime novels will know are here, and they all have important roles to fill in weaving together a host of fibers aimed at entrapping Mr. Pangborn. Pangborn has been at pains over the years to corrupt and insert law enforcement personnel, ordinary murderers, civic officials at various levels, up to the Senate of the United States. So, the plot is tangled, textured and complicated. Or at least the moves to resolve an up-to-the-minute plot are so.

Anyone reading this fine novel who is aware of public affairs in this country during the last decade will recognize some of the incidents and many of the players. Fast-paced, filled with emotional ups and downs, the author has fashioned an excellent and enjoyable reading experience.

As is usual, I received a free copy of the novel from the publisher with no expectations whatsoever.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, November 2015.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: A Cry from the Dust by Carrie Stuart Parks

A Cry from the DustA Cry from the Dust
A Gwen Marcey Novel
Carrie Stuart Parks
Thomas Nelson, August 2014
ISBN 978-1-4016-9043-4
Trade Paperback

You can read a story blurb about A Cry From the Dust anywhere, so I’m going to talk about other aspects of the book.

  • The writing is clear and sharp, with good flow.
  • The subject matter is extraordinary. Domestic terrorism; the Mormon Church; plural marriage.
  • Gwen Marcy, the point of view character, has a history too many of us can relate to; cancer (Gwen is bald), a messy divorce, single motherhood. All this, plus she’s kidnapped, branded a terrorist and murderer, and tasked with stopping a major terrorist attack. Whew!
  • I loved that, just like the author, Carrie Stuart Parks, Gwen is a forensic artist, so the story drips with authenticity. Be prepared to learn something along with being royally entertained.
  • The villains could be real people, with aspirations and desires outside the mainstream, but certainly imaginable. They could be going about their everyday business and we’d never know.
  • Beth, Gwen’s sidekick, is almost as interesting as Gwen herself.
  • Gwen has the constant worry of a teen heartbroken by her parents’ divorce, and we’re shown the girl’s emotions and exactly how she acts out.
  • The depth of the novel is astounding.
  • Best part, there are at least two more Gwen Marcy books in the pipeline.
  • There’s a dog.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, March 2015.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder.