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Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September issue part 9)

     Posted on Sun ,16/11/2014 by Administrator

PARENTS WHO KILL THEIR CHILDREN

By RJ Parker

I really enjoyed this read. Although I’ve read about all of the cases profiled, the way RJ lays them out makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It’s beyond me how a parent could perform such a heinous act on their own flesh and blood.

The book opens with a definition of filicide and the possible causes then segues into the first of ten cases highlighted in the book. What strikes me, and I’m sure all readers will notice, is that statistically speaking, more often than not, the child’s mother is the one who commits the murder; in fact, only two instances of father’s committing filicide are included in the book.

Although the highly publicized crimes of Darlie Routier and Andrea Yates are beyond comprehension, the particularly gruesome crime committed by Susan Eubanks is the one that haunts me. Eubanks systematically shot each of her four children point blank in the head, starting with her fifteen-year-old son Brandon, then her other three sons aged seven, six, and four, while the others watched in horror waiting for their turns. I can’t begin to imagine what was going through the boys’ minds. Her daughter and nephew both survived that attack and will no doubt spend the rest of their lives scarred by the experience.

Throughout the book, RJ interjects his thoughts and opinions on society’s view, about mother’s pointing out that society on a whole considers mothers to be the primary caregiver and nurturer. Each of the cases are briefly touched upon and in my opinion, it would have been a more compelling read if the cases were explored a little further, perhaps introducing aspects of the case not previously published. It also would have been nice to have a few current cases included.

All in all, “Parents Who Kill Their Children” is a great read for aficionados of true crime. If you are, take the time to look up one of RJ’s fourteen other true crime books.

Reviewed by Jodi Ann Chapters (ChaptersandChats.com) ■

 

THE CITY

By Dean Koontz

Jonah Ellington Basie Hines Eldridge Wilson Hampton Armstrong Kirk, is the character’s name, and it flows as beautifully off the tongue as this incredible story does inside the mind. It’s a tale that hits the soul and proves that if you own passion for life and the particular place you are living in, that place will return your passion tenfold by providing you with all the color, vibrancy, and people you need to make your life an amazing one.

Jonah’s telling his story into a recorder for his friend Malcolm; an oral history, if you will, that brings to light everything from mystery to music that sparked his boyhood talent and imagination.

It’s 1967, and Jonah has moved into grandpa’s house with his mom. Creativity runs in this family: grandpa is a piano man, and mom was a singer. Grandpa has a piano in the home and keeps music alive by playing for fun every day. Mom, however, no longer sings. Something happened in her youth that changed the course of her future, and made her far more cynical than she originally was. She works hard, pressing morals and values into her son, teaching him to never be half-a-man.

Jonah grows and explores his abilities and talents, yet the city is difficult, especially when danger crosses his path. This artistic soul must fight malice, anger, and envy, at times, in order to follow his mother’s direction and become the good man she wants him to be.

Koontz is a name generally linked to the genres of horror or fantasy. His supernatural capabilities are beloved by fans when it comes to the Odd Thomas series. But with this tale, it’s almost like the reader is spending a moment in the sun. Even when the dark clouds come around, hearing Jonah’s tale is like a dream, where nothing bad will happen as long as ‘the city’ is on his side.

This is one that will never be forgotten. Bravo!

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, Author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

THE PERFECT COED

By Judy Alter

Starting with one of the best opening paragraphs in recent memory, “The Perfect Coed” by Judy Alter takes off, and doesn’t let up through the course of the book.

The central character in this academic cozy is Susan Hogan, professor of English Lit, and expert on western writer Zane Grey, at a small liberal arts college in the Texas hinterlands. She leads the normal life of an unmarried, professional woman warily approaching middle age, except for a penchant for landing in middle of trouble. Fortunately for Susan, she also has a talent for solving mysteries.

Neither of those traits is endearing to Jake Philips, the tall and handsome Chief of the Campus Police, though he feels her other charms make up for them, barely. Susan and Jack have been a couple just long enough to start to wonder where things are going.

Susan hasn’t much time to dwell on relationships when a pretty coed is murdered, and Susan is strangely implicated, though she hasn’t a clue why. That she needs to find out, and find out fast, is made frighteningly clear when she is attacked while zipping home on her scooter late at night.

Aunt Jenny, Susan’s closest relative, arrives for a stay and brings her vinegar wit and salty tongue with her. With her help, Susan sets out to uncover the killer. Suspects abound, menace is everywhere, yet through it all, Susan must pay attention to what passes for real life: classes, papers, and jealous and conniving professorial colleagues.

Not one to duck a challenge, Susan takes it all on, risking life and limb chasing the killer, driving poor Jack crazy with worry, and through it all, letting readers know there’s a new detective in town, and her name is Susan Hogan, Professor of English Lit.

Reviewed by Andrew MacRae, author of “Murder Miscalculated” ■

 

THE STONE BOY

By Sophie Loubiere

Madame Preau has spent several years living in a convalescent home, and is now beyond happy that she is able to return to her home located just outside of Paris. But as with all time spent away, when she arrives back, she notes that there have been many changes made to the neighborhood. Where there used to be a lovely garden next door, there is now a brand new house. It is not the sight of the house that’s disturbing, it is the slightly uncomfortable fact that she can literally look directly into the neighbors’ windows, if she so wishes.

The new neighbors have two children who play in the yard most of the time when they are not in school. But there is another young boy that looks ill, and he spends his time tossing stones at Madame Preau’s window in order to get her attention. But what begins as only a slightly odd situation becomes a serious issue when the family in the house looks at her strangely and tells Madame Preau that no other boy exists in the household, and that she’s hallucinating.

To make up for her increasing feeling of loneliness, Madame spies on the two children at play, continuing to state that there are three, not two, even though the parents continue to deny that this ‘stone-throwing’ boy exists. Madame Preau offers piano lessons to the daughter in order to grill her for more information. She will stop at nothing to prove she’s not the requisite ‘crazy old lady,’ and even calls children’s services, and asks at the school where she used to teach—both of which cannot find any record of another child.

Madame Preau is a perfect protagonist; not willing to give up without a fight, she becomes determined to save this supposedly non-existent boy from harm. And the readers will be more than surprised when the question of ‘real’ or ‘figment of the imagination’ is solved.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE PERFECT STRANGER

By Wendy Corsi Staub

Another awesome Staub story that goes above and beyond the suspense/creepy factor!

Readers begin by meeting Meredith Heywood, a breast cancer survivor. A nice lady who keeps her strength and courage; she’s created a blog that will, hopefully, give other women a place to go where they can feel better and relate to someone who has gone through the same pain.

Some of these ladies become very fast friends, even though they’ve never met each other face-to-face. These new buddies are Landry Wells, Elena, Kay, and Jaycee. They, with the help of the internet, have become very close. At this time in their lives, discovering people who have been afflicted with the same medical condition and have lived to talk about it is a great consolation.

Sadly, Meredith is murdered! The murder scene, according to authorities, looks staged, and the police are not able to figure out if this was a random killing or a far more personal one. A bit later, the online group finally meet when they attend Meredith’s funeral. And when they come together, they want nothing more than to solve the crime that the police don’t seem to have any leads on or know where they should go next.

Landry suspects that Meredith’s death was not a random act and the killer might be hiding behind a screen name. She also thinks this someone might have hacked into their conversations, and either had something to prove, or vengeance to unleash.

Although the calamity and trauma that can come from the online world is not a new topic, this plot is extremely interesting because of the intelligence and sheer grit of the characters involved. With a motive and a killer that is unveiled over time, this fantastic wordsmith makes sure the story never stops for even a second, and that the creepiness factor never goes away. It’s not a surprise when Staub writes a truly unforgettable thriller, and her fans will definitely not be disappointed with this one!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE BELLINGHAM BLOODBATH

By Gregory Harris

This is a terrific story featuring Detective Colin Pendragon, and his partner, Ethan Pruitt. Set in jolly old England, readers are presented with two very different cases in this Victorian mystery that will keep them on their toes until the very end.

Captain Trevor Bellingham is a member of the Queen’s Life Guard. In a tragic occurrence, he and his wife are killed in their home. The authorities watching out for the Guard would like nothing more than for Pendragon and Pruitt to solve the crime as fast as possible. Or…perhaps there is a cover-up in the works that will keep the truth away from public eyes.

When Colin and Ethan return home, there is a lady waiting for them. Lady Nesbitt-Normand is absolutely beside herself because her prize-winning dog has been kidnapped. Lady Priscilla Elizabeth Windsor Hanover Nesbitt-Normand, is the name of the poor pedigree canine, and even though the detectives have a murder case on their hands, they still agree to do all they can to find the missing pup. Colin is absolutely sure he can solve the Guard’s case in three days and, if he can’t, he’ll simply turn the reins over to other authorities. But in the middle of trying to fulfill his promise, he is literally stopped in his tracks at every turn by Scotland Yard, and Inspector Varcoe. The duo must delve deeper in order to solve the Guard’s homicide, and as they uncover secrets, the pressure mounts to find a very real killer who’s on the loose.

Both storylines come together in perfect symmetry, making for an incredibly pleasing mystery. Colin and Ethan have the ‘spark’ of Holmes and Watson, but Sherlock wasn’t quite the charmer (unless we’re speaking of the movies with Robert Downey, Jr., of course). The author nails it yet again!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE SKIN COLLECTOR

By Jeffrey Deaver

This is the latest book by number one NY Times bestselling author Jeffrey Deaver. While this book is not a sequel to “The Bone Collector,” it does bring the reader back to a time when Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Donaghy first met and were chasing a killer who makes his killings very personal against Lincoln.

Deaver does a masterful job taking the reader on an emotional ride and how this new killer is stirring up old memories of Richard Thompson (The Bone Collector). “The Skin Collector,” who is killing his victims by tattooing them with a lethal poison, leaves clues within the art work; Lincoln is trying to come to terms with his own demons and being haunted by a killer called “The Watchmaker” (“The Cold Moon”), who just died in prison.

It is not an easy thing for an author that has had so much success to continue to raise the bar with their writing, but “The Skin Collector” is Deaver’s best book to date. Fans won’t be able to put the book down once they pick it up. If Deaver’s goal was to deprive readers of sleep, he did that and so much more.

Reviewed by John Raab ■

 

THE WEDDING SOUP MURDER

By Rosie Genova

Mystery writer Victoria Rienzi is in the soup. Literally. Victoria comes back to her Jersey shore roots to write a new book and learn the ins and outs of Casa Lido, her family’s restaurant business. Her nonna (that’s grandmother for all you non-Italians) rules the restaurant with a cast-iron hand, right down to dictating that exactly five tiny handmade meatballs go into each serving of the restaurant’s famous wedding soup.

When the restaurant is hired to provide the soup for a huge wedding at a swishy local beach club, it means Victoria must make 1,000 meatballs and also serve the soup at the wedding. The father of the bride, Dr. Chickie, is a close family friend and local orthodontist, who was responsible for straightening many local kids’ teeth—including Victoria’s—so Victoria wants everything to go perfectly. The wedding itself comes off without a hitch, despite dueling head chefs and a tense encounter between Dr. Chickie and the beach club president.

When the body of the club president is found on the beach below a high seawall, and Dr. Chickie is the prime suspect, Victoria’s family begs her to help him. After all, she writes mysteries, so she should be able to solve this one and clear Chickie, right? With the help of her sister-in-law Sofia, and the reluctant help of her nonna, Victoria discovers some old secrets that just may put her in the soup for good.

“The Wedding Soup Murder” is the second in Rosie Genova’s delightful Italian Kitchen Mystery series. I love the characters and the atmosphere, and the plot has more twists in it than a bowl of rotini. Yummy fun!

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Funerals Can Be Murder,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

SAVAGE

By Jeremy Robinson & Sean Ellis

“Savage” starts off with simple questions. What really happened when Stanley found Livingstone? What was Livingstone doing during all the time that he was ‘lost’?

In this latest Chess Team adventure, the team is back, but I would be hard pressed to say they are organized. King, fresh off his 3,000 year adventure, isn’t sure how to relate to his friends and teammates. He is distant and aloof. The others are not sure what to make of their leader who traveled and lived thousands of years B.C. in the mere blink of an eye. All personal issues are placed on the back burner when they get a call asking for their help in rescuing the kidnapped president of the Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. They are needed to rescue the president and help stabilize the region. King agrees and his team follows.

What follows in “Savage” is much more than a political thriller. Robinson and Ellis have combined technology, archeology, and even a little microbiology with the question they ask better than any other authors today: what if? What if the team gets split up in three parts and has no idea where the other members are? What if science got it all wrong and ‘ancients’ still inhabit the earth? And what if Livingston’s discoveries would have altered science and political balance in the eyes of the world?

“Savage” will take you deep into and under the Congo, and even deeper into your mind and imagination. It has an ending that will leave you gasping for air, and the only thing you may have left to breathe is carbon dioxide. “Savage” takes the Chess Team to new heights and will leave you thinking: what if?

Reviewed by JM LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

CHILDREN OF REVOLUTION

By Peter Robinson

Inspector Banks is back! And the slew of fans, as well as the lover of the English mystery, will be thrilled with this author’s latest.

To begin, a former college lecturer by the name of Gavin Miller, is discovered on a path underneath a railroad bridge in the English countryside. Right off the bat, it is difficult to find a motive for the crime, but they immediately rule out robbery seeing as that the man still holds £5,000 in his pocket, undisturbed.

Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, is heading up the investigation; an investigation that leads into a very snooty world where he and his team end up questioning some very rich and powerful folks, who are definitely not happy about his intrusion into their society. As the case remains up in the air, trying to find out exactly how the victim died—still unsure whether murder is actually the cause—the policemen must dig deeper and deeper into the dead man’s life, as well as his associates. The oddest part to Banks is the fact that a man like the victim—a man who had been disgraced at his job—would be the owner of a pile of money.

Told to back off because he and the police are pressured by the rich and famous, Banks stays himself and refuses to go anywhere until the crime is solved. His cohorts, detectives’ Cabbot and Winsome, are all very bright, with just the right amount of attitude to plough forward and get the answers with Banks despite any roadblocks that may appear.

Moving along quite quickly, this author is once again impressive with his storytelling, and the plot is a whole lot of fun. Banks is very likeable, along with his fellow detectives, and readers are always hoping he hangs around for a good, long time to come.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September issue part 8)

     Posted on Sun ,16/11/2014 by Administrator

THE PERFECT STRANGER

By Wendy Corsi Staub

Another awesome Staub story that goes above and beyond the suspense/creepy factor!

Readers begin by meeting Meredith Heywood, a breast cancer survivor. A nice lady who keeps her strength and courage; she’s created a blog that will, hopefully, give other women a place to go where they can feel better and relate to someone who has gone through the same pain.

Some of these ladies become very fast friends, even though they’ve never met each other face-to-face. These new buddies are Landry Wells, Elena, Kay, and Jaycee. They, with the help of the internet, have become very close. At this time in their lives, discovering people who have been afflicted with the same medical condition and have lived to talk about it is a great consolation.

Sadly, Meredith is murdered! The murder scene, according to authorities, looks staged, and the police are not able to figure out if this was a random killing or a far more personal one. A bit later, the online group finally meet when they attend Meredith’s funeral. And when they come together, they want nothing more than to solve the crime that the police don’t seem to have any leads on or know where they should go next.

Landry suspects that Meredith’s death was not a random act and the killer might be hiding behind a screen name. She also thinks this someone might have hacked into their conversations, and either had something to prove, or vengeance to unleash.

Although the calamity and trauma that can come from the online world is not a new topic, this plot is extremely interesting because of the intelligence and sheer grit of the characters involved. With a motive and a killer that is unveiled over time, this fantastic wordsmith makes sure the story never stops for even a second, and that the creepiness factor never goes away. It’s not a surprise when Staub writes a truly unforgettable thriller, and her fans will definitely not be disappointed with this one!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE SUM OF HIS WORTH

By Ron Argo

In today’s day and age, we don’t think about the prejudices of races. Yes, there are some who do not get along with others, but we don’t worry about segregation and the beatings and killings associated with breaking the rules.

“The Sum of his Worth” takes the reader on a journey when blacks and whites wouldn’t think about mixing in the south. Even though laws were trying to be changed to overcome these prejudices, there are those in the Deep South that refused to consider blacks anything but dispensable. Lynching was part of life for the white man in Alabama and Georgia.

Sonny Poe—a sixteen-year-old—meets Dr. Joe, and they are two white guys in the heart of the south. Sonny already has friends from the neighboring town Ash, who are black. He doesn’t see a problem with it, but does understand how being seen with blacks could affect him and his friends. But Sonny is rebellious and refuses to treat blacks any differently than the whites and Dr. Joe is trying to change the way people think. And some people in the Alabama town consider that to be traitorous and go after both Sonny and Dr. Joe with killing on their minds. They group together the KKK and try to murder Sonny, Dr. Joe, and any black person who thinks about trying to rise above their unfortunate status. Will Sonny and Dr. Joe both die trying to do what’s right?

Argo has woven a story that unfortunately, was a little too close to the truth to think of as fiction. This well-written novel will have you gasping and flinching at the corruption and vileness. A very poignant novel, written in the voice of those of the 60s. Well done, Argo.

Reviewed by Starr Gardinier Reina, author of “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

THE KILL SWITCH

By James Rollins and Grant Blackwood

It’s always an adrenaline rush to hear that Rollins has another book on the shelves. But with this, the start of a brand new series by Rollins and writing collaborator Blackwood, fans will not only experience a ‘rush’ they will be jumping for joy!

U.S. Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and his partner—an extremely intelligent Belgian Shepherd named Kane—have just signed on with Sigma Force. This is a very ‘hush, hush’ unit working for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Their job is to smuggle Abram Bukolov out of Russia. Bukolov is a pharmacological expert and he needs to flee his country because of a secret he owns: the key to a highly infectious life form called LUCA that can literally destroy plant life.

General Artur Khazin of the Russian Military Intelligence Department has hired mercenary, Felice Nilsson, to prevent Mr. Bukolov’s escape. This General is looking to utilize LUCA to create an extremely powerful biological weapon.

As the action races from Russia into South Africa, Tucker and Kane attempt to find the ‘kill switch’ for this particular plant that apparently grows somewhere near the region of Namibia—the only biological species that can shut LUCA down. As the partners work to retrieve the plant and get Bukolov to the U.S., someone is telling the Russians where they are by keeping an eye on every move the partners make.

As the clock ticks down (much like 24), Tucker and Kane do their best to achieve success, while working to discover who the mole is in their organization before the entire world ends up to be only a memory.

A truly exciting start to what should be an incredible series, Tucker Wayne is a perfect action hero and canine Kane, shines as the only one Tucker can trust. Rollins’s collaborator on this series, Blackwood, has worked with both Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy, and has proven to be a military suspense master right along with the rest of them. Everyone will love it!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE WHITE MAGIC FIVE AND DIME

By Steve Hockensmith with Lisa Falco

From the unique title to the cool cover, this book has it all.

Alanis McLachlan is on her way to Arizona in order to claim an inheritance left to her by her mother—a woman she hasn’t seen or spoken to in twenty years. The prize, so to speak, that she now possesses is a small shop that Alanis never knew existed, where her mother ran a tarot card reading business.

Not knowing what to do with the shop, Alanis decides she will keep the place open temporarily while she attempts to figure out who is responsible for her mother’s demise; she knows something just doesn’t add up, and she won’t stop until she finds out what really happened, and why. Mom wasn’t a princess or an angel, so Alanis has her work cut out for her. Seems that Mom was a great con artist, and Alanis thinks she may just have tried to swindle the wrong person…and ended up paying for it.

With the help of an extremely good-looking cop, and her mom’s live-in teenage apprentice, Alanis bones up on her tarot skills, and runs the business by faking her way through readings to win the confidence of her mother’s clients. But as she begins, Alanis starts to believe that all the answers she’s looking for are in the cards.

The cop assures Alanis that her mom was killed by a burglar, but as Alanis moves forward, she finds other suspects, and asks the law to give her the names of three people who had filed complaints against her mom. Not only does she find these complaints are valid, but Alanis also discovers that some of the townspeople are running scams all their own.

This is a fun read and, (just a little tip), this author also penned “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls,” which will give readers an idea of how amazing and creative this tale is. A+ across the board!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE HARD WAY

By Cathi Stoler

The famous Strip is being lit up even more, as a new casino opens in Las Vegas. The new owner of this lavish hotel/casino called January, is Jimmy Scanlon, who is considered by most to be the best of the best. Jimmy is also a longtime friend of PI Helen McCorkendale, who is all set to attend the grand opening.

When the festivities come to an end, Helen returns to her home and business in New York and asks a friend of hers, Laurel Imperiole—an editor at ‘Women Now’—to run a contest in the magazine that would give the winner a weekend at January as the grand prize. The winner, Dawn Chapman, is a jewelry store employee from Cincinnati who actually refuses the trip at first, before being persuaded by Laurel to accept.

To say the least, Dawn is dazzled by the grandeur of the hotel. But during her visit, the annual meeting of the International Diamond Dealers is being hosted at the casino. Circumstances make Dawn uncomfortable with staying, but Jimmy pays a visit to her room and encourages her to go to the Saturday afternoon pool party, offering to send her home on his jet the following day. Sadly, Dawn should have gone with her first instinct, as she is found by the pool murdered with poison, which turns out to be a very odd combination that includes diamond dust in the mixture. It seems Dawn was not who she pretended to be, and Helen and Laurel begin doing all they can to clear their friend, Jimmy, off the suspect list by solving the odd crime before it’s too late.

The scenes in this book are colorful, taking place in Las Vegas and New York. Yet when the changes occur, the writer does it so easily that readers have no problem following the tale as they ‘view’ both locales leading up to a super-terrific ending. Enjoy!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE ORPHEUS DESCENT

By Tom Harper

If you like Indiana Jones movies, or the Tallent & Lowery series, you will love this! High action, ancient artifacts, full-on entertainment…this is a historical thrill ride you will never forget.

Beginning in Athens in the year 389 BC, readers meet up with one of the most beloved thinkers of all time, Plato, who is heading to Italy seeking to be initiated into the Orphic mysteries—the secrets to the Underworld that only the gods know about…until now.

In the present, archaeologist Lily Barnes, is working on a dig in Italy when she stumbles across a gold tablet. On it is engraved a message that holds secrets of the afterlife, including the directions, supposedly, to the pathway to Hell. Lily and two of her colleagues are quickly asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement, and the strange treasure is locked up in a safe. But when Lily’s husband, Jonah, joins her at the site, he finds that his beloved wife—and the tablet—have disappeared into thin air.

The history and mystery move forward like a bullet out of a gun. Involved are wicked Greek billionaires with fancy yachts, as well as a slew of strange messages and flashbacks that bring the secrets of a previous era back to life. The story of Lily brings her through the same waters that Plato once traveled, searching caves that were actually carved by ocean waves long ago. Will the pathway to Hell actually be discovered? Well…when following in the footsteps of Plato, you just never know.

The storylines are very clear, allowing the reader never to get confused or mixed up with character, plot, or time period. The research of ancient Greece is stunning and in-depth, and the marvelous characters, both present day and long ago, are enticing. Plato’s views were altered on this journey, and the fun and sometimes terrifying moments revealed will satisfy one and all. You will be salivating over this one, so enjoy!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE KEEPER

By Luke Delaney

The awesome cover alone will spark the imagination and cause the blood to run cold when it comes to this second killer novel featuring Detective Inspector Sean Corrigan.

To begin with, Thomas Keller is looking for a woman named Sam. This search is all about emotion; Thomas is in love with Sam and wants desperately to find her in order to keep her from harm. The only trouble is, he keeps finding women who look a whole lot like her; women who are also, as far as he’s concerned, pretending to be her. Well, as all serial killers know, this is a situation where Thomas is left no choice. He has to dispose of the ‘fakers’ so he can locate the ‘real’ Sam because he knows she needs to be saved.

Into this mental mix walks Detective Inspector Sean Corrigan. He seems to have a nifty sort of gift for delving into the brains of psychos, and this is yet another killer he is about to follow through a maze of death. When a lady by the name of Louise Russell comes up missing, Sean is determined to locate this latest crazy before the woman, like others before her, turns up dead. Closer and closer Sean gets with the help, or hindrance, of a criminal psychologist and team members from the police force who, most of the time, don’t know what they are talking about.

One of those true killer thrillers, Luke Delaney has offered up a creep fest that readers love to sink their teeth into. So intriguing, this is one quick read filled with everything from the hero to the dark and disturbing. In addition, readers may just look at people they’ve known for years in a different light, and make sure to bolt their doors before retiring for the evening. This type of crime fiction is beloved; the type that fans will not put down for fear they’ll miss something. A definite keeper!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

WHAT STRANGE CREATURES

By Emily Arsenault

This is the story of the Battle family. What you would call a very dysfunctional clan, the Battles dwell in Thompsonville, Massachusetts, living quiet, boring lives. However, when a cold-blooded murder happens too close to home, this dysfunctional family literally becomes their last name—battling to save one of their own from the cellblock.

It’s Theresa Battle who is having a difficult time. She’s been struggling to write a dissertation she may never finish, the way she’s going. Theresa has just offered to dog-sit for her brother’s girlfriend, Kim Graber, who is a local waitress. Theresa already has a houseful of pets, but doing this chore will not be a problem. Her daily routine includes her job, which is copywriting for a local candle making company. Not the most exciting existence, but Theresa has always stated that the Battles are used to disappointment. Especially when it comes to her brother Jeff. To Theresa, he is the absolute definition of a loser. But she must ask herself if the loser that annoys her so much could actually be a murderer.

When Kim Graber’s body is discovered, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that points straight to Jeff as being the killer, and he is thrown in jail and immediately charged. Although the Battles aren’t exactly buddies, they are blood. Using everything she can find to prove her brother’s innocence, Theresa listens to Kim’s coworkers and unravels a great many mysteries. As Theresa moves forward, her gut instinct seems to be correct. Blaming her brother was too quick an answer, and as Theresa digs, she unearths the fact that Kim was trying to discredit a local ‘big wig’ that she shared a history with, as well as many other suspects with some seriously dark secrets.

This book is filled with humor, which is somewhat unusual in a mystery/thriller, but a great thing to behold. The dialogue is very smartly written, and the plot is one you will stick to until the very end.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September issue part 7)

     Posted on Sun ,16/11/2014 by Administrator

NOWHERE TO TURN

By Lynette Eason

Opening with the featured character, Danielle Harding, readers watch as this strong woman makes a plan to take her son and run away from her bully of a husband in order to find safety. The escape will be extremely difficult, as her spouse makes sure to keep tabs on Danielle at all times.

Just when she’s about to flee, her husband sends his brother, Stuart, over to the house to pick something up from the safe…a safe that Danielle has already emptied out for her journey. Just missing a battle, Danielle drives away to pick up her deaf son. Danielle has an angel on her side, considering she manages to evade both her spouse and his brother. But irony strikes when, on the same day she runs, her husband is found murdered. Now, she immediately turns from an abused woman running for her very life, to a person who may be a cold-blooded murderer in many peoples’ eyes.

With hubby out of the picture, the level of danger grows even more intense for Danielle. Stuart is now her stalker, and will not rest until he destroys Danielle for taking the life of his brother. She must stay two steps ahead, but it seems no matter where she goes, Stuart or one of his cronies shows up.

Running out of choices, Danielle turns to Operation Refuge, a government program protecting the abused. Danielle is given a solemn promise by head man, Adam Buchanan, that he will keep her safe and stop Stuart’s gang from harming her. The odd part is, Danielle’s stalkers always seem to appear, leading her to believe that someone close to her is working for the enemy.

This author is definitely gifted at creating nail-biters that cause readers to sit on the edge of their chairs until the last page. The imagination, fast pace, creativity, plot, characters—she has them all. After this, race to the stores and look for her other titles as well. You will NOT be sorry!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE LAST TOWN

By Blake Crouch

The abbies are coming through the gates in droves and nothing can be done to stop them.

“The Last Town,” the third and final book in the Wayward Pines series, is a stunning ending to an electrifying series by author Blake Crouch.

Wayward Pines…the last bastion of civilization. Four-hundred citizens find out the secret to their existence and the horrible truth of their situation: their lives in the hands of a madman. Their small paradise is about to be transformed into a Hell-on-Earth, so perilous, they will probably all die horrible deaths at the hands of the abbies—undead, zombie-like creatures with great strength and speed—that are now streaming into their town and eating their way through the populous. Previously held at bay by high, strong electrical fences, the gates are now open by their creator’s hand, and death is everywhere. Their only hope may be in the form of Ethan Burke, the ex-Secret Service agent turned sheriff of Wayward Pines.

Powerfully told with break-neck pacing, this story is all action and speed, while still having an economically descriptive way that puts Crouch ahead of the pack. The characters are humanly flawed, but each has a story to tell, which adds to the realization and unimaginable horror. Crouch’s writing style is wickedly appealing and makes the entire book unique and difficult to put down.

This book gave me enough background to understand the intent of the author and story, while not weighing me down with too much previous detail, a credit to Crouch’s storytelling moxie. The ability to bring a reading front and center in a story like this, with only a brief hint at previous installments is a feat most authors don’t master easily, but Crouch is on the mark.

An outstanding completion to a most awesome series, “The Last Town” will put you right in the middle of the grizzly action and absolute terror…and who would want to be anywhere else?

Reviewed by DJ Weaver (WebbWeaver Reviews) co-author of “Collecting Innocents” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

THE GOOD KNOW NOTHING

By Ken Kuhlken

Tom Hickey definitely lived an interesting life before finally becoming an LAPD detective. His father, Charlie, left Tom and his sister, Florence, with a very abusive mother when they were only children before vanishing into thin air. The siblings ran, leaving that terrible life behind.

Now 1936, Tom’s current job has him dealing with a police chief who’s a little on the shady side. But life turns odd when Bud Gallagher appears in Tom’s world and shows him a manuscript that was written by his long-disappeared father. This document is supposed to unveil the reason why Charlie left. You see, there are issues with this manuscript, especially seeing how a book written and published by another man is identical to what Charlie wrote. This apparent theft is all Tom needs to start looking for his father, determined to locate Charlie no matter what the cost.

Surprises come from everywhere. Tom uncovers news that the presumed dead gunman, Harry Longabaugh, more commonly known as ‘The Sundance Kid,’ perhaps had a hand in the killing of his father. As the past is unearthed, Tom discovers there’s much more to this incredible story, with everything from killing to kidnapping to theft and forgery, to be solved.

As Tom and his sister get closer to the truth about their father’s eventual demise, they accept help from an evangelist. And as they continue to dig deeper into whether or not an author had stolen their father’s manuscript and called it his own, amazing historical characters arrive on the scene: from Betty Weaver, who was head of a gangster group that included John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd; to the rich and powerful publisher, William Randolph Hearst.

This is an amazing mystery set in the age of the Great Depression that takes readers on a thrill ride. It is also the first in this author’s California Century Novels that will spotlight the danger and color of the 1900s.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

LAST ORDERS: THE WAR THAT CAME EARLY

By Harry Turtledove

This highly-anticipated final chapter in the War That Came Early series is truly a grand finale!

The unforgettable transformation of history is complete.… Germany invades Czechoslovakia in 1938, rather than Poland in ‘39. England and France ally with Nazi Germany in order to do battle with Communist Russia, and history gets even more unique. By the year 1943, Britain and France are facing Germany across the western front; in the east, the Russians are pushing the Germans back. The United States is having a bit of a dust up with Japan, and after the Battle of Midway, American paratroopers are left stranded, forbidden to leave Japan because of their active biological warfare campaign.

In Munster, Germany, a church elder protests against Nazi treatment of ‘faulty’ folks (not Jewish), which spawns war-weary Germans to revolt against the Blackshirts. It seems that Hitler’s Plan A was to win quickly, striking hard and fast against France. There didn’t seem to be a Plan B, and countries remain locked in strange alliances. The Nazis are using Hungarian and Romanian troops; and England, after all the doubts surrounding the mysterious death of Churchill, is fighting back in Europe and in the North Atlantic.

Jewish people are fighting on both sides, some in secret as they don German uniforms. There are new war tools coming to the forefront of military inventions, and Japan is planning an attack on Hawaii using biological bombs to drop on the island paradise. Then…Hitler declares war on America, which may be too late considering the Fatherland is breaking into pieces.

This crazy, non-conventional, alternate look at this time period is absolutely riveting. It’s a new ‘what if?’ leading readers to wonder how things could have been if Hitler had left Poland alone and the Japanese had focused on others, and not solely on America. Debates are more than interesting, and the details regarding military strategy are amazing to behold. Turtledove has produced a great ending to a great ride!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

MURDER IN THE MYSTERY SUITE

By Ellery Adams

Nestled in the beautiful mountains of Virginia is a unique community catering to book lovers of all genre—Storyton Village. At its heart is Storyton Hall, a five-star resort which provides a quiet place for book lovers who want to get away from it all and—what else?—read to their hearts’ content.

Storyton Hall has been in the Steward family for hundreds of years. In fact, the original building was brought to the U.S. back in the 1800s from England. The current manager is widowed Jane Steward, with the assistance of her Uncle Aloysius and Aunt Octavia. The Hall is facing a financial crisis, so Jane decides to host a Murder and Mayhem Week to provide mystery fans the opportunity to come together for some role-playing and fantasy crime-solving. And charge them a hefty price for the privilege.

The week gets off to a promising start, and Jane has devised an ingenious schedule of events to keep the guests intrigued, including a scavenger hunt. The prize for the hunt is a valuable mystery book. When the winner is found dead in the Mystery Suite, and the book he won is missing, Jane realizes she’s dealing with more than she’d bargained for—one of her guests could be an actual murderer.

“Murder in the Mystery Suite” is a promising first entry in the new Book Retreat mystery series by New York Times best-selling author Ellery Adams. Adams knows how to weave a cozy tale with layers of surprises and a wonderful cast of likeable characters that will have her readers begging for more, and as soon as possible!

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Class Reunions Can Be Murder” ■

 

TOP SECRET

By W.E.B. Griffin with William E. Butterworth IV

A thrilling new series entitled Clandestine Operations has begun, opening doors into special ops, investigating the path to the Cold War, and unveiling clandestine connections between Argentina and Germany during WWII.

In this, the first in the series, the year is 1945. The Nazi’s order the assassination of the President of Argentina, Jorge Frade. In addition, the bloody murder of two Nazi officers occur during a ‘top secret’ night beach landing that’s part of Operation Phoenix.

It seems this ‘mission gone wrong’ was a plan to free an Argentine crew from a Nazi ship, and the murder of the officers is wrapped around an extortion campaign—taking money from Jews in the Fatherland and arranging for their safe passage to Argentina in return while keeping the Reich in the dark.

Cletus Frade, the young son of the former Argentine President, has returned to his homeland to take over his late father’s estate. Cletus is an OSS agent; an organization of wartime spymasters that will eventually become the CIA after the war is over. Cletus meets Major Hans-Peter von Wachstein, a Nazi pilot working at the German Embassy, and they form a friendship: Hans-Peter relays embassy secrets to Cletus, while Cletus helps move Hans-Peter’s money and family to Argentina. Hans-Peter and his father strongly believe that the war is wrong and Germany has already lost.

As a result of this shady dealing, the evil Himmler starts an investigation to locate the embassy spy. And although Cletus protects Hans-Peter as best he can, they both must wait and watch as Juan Peron, a noted pro-Nazi, gains power in the country.

This incredible mix of intrigue, diplomacy and, of course, a bit of romance, is fantastic. The reader will note the horror of the war, along with the massive role intelligence agents played in the eventual victory.

In other words, when this story from a literary team that ignites suspense lovers everywhere comes to a close, readers will be panting for the next novel.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian & Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE LONG SHADOW

By Liz Marklund

In the newest book of Liza Marklund’s Annika Bengtzon series translated from Swedish, the intrepid investigative reporter is drawn to a case on Spain’s Costa del Sol.

As the story starts, Annika is still dealing with fallout from events in earlier books. Her husband has left her for another woman and they’re sharing custody of their children. Annika is using an apartment provided by one of her sources, since her own place was destroyed in an assassination attempt. Because of a police cover-up, the insurance company believes she’s responsible for the fire and refuses to pay for her loss. On top of everything else, a reshuffle of leadership at her paper has left her working for an inexperienced editor.

He assigns her to cover the deaths of a retired Swedish hockey star and his family during a robbery on the Costa del Sol. The thieves used gas to incapacitate the family—a common tactic there—but this time, the type of gas was lethal, killing the star, his wife, his mother-in-law, and their two children. When she gets to the scene, Annika finds that the star’s teenaged daughter by a previous marriage was in the house prior to the attack, but has now disappeared. When the Spanish police find two robbers dead in a truck filled with loot from the house, they close the case, but Annika wonders about evidence indicating a third person at the scene.

As she continues to investigate, she finds the crime involves people from earlier cases on which she’s reported—cases that put her in physical danger. It leads her to dig into the drug trade in an area that has been nicknamed “Costa del Cocaine.” But the key to the case lies on a farm fifty years in the past, where three girls—the Troll, the Princess, and the Angel—plotted to find their place in the sun.

Those who’ve read Marklund before will find “The Long Shadow” especially satisfying as it wraps up threads woven through her previous books.

Reviewed by David Ingram ■

Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September issue part 6)

     Posted on Sun ,16/11/2014 by Administrator

HOW TO FALL

By Jane Casey

A thriller should start off fast and ‘cool,’ and that is exactly what this author has managed to provide.

On page one, Freya, a young local girl, is running through the woods and heading for a cliff that hovers over the sea in the small town of Port Sentinel. This is not exactly an area to run through under the cover of darkness, and sure enough, poor Freya falls off the cliff onto the rocks below.

Sometime later, Freya’s aunt Molly, and Molly’s daughter, Jess, come to visit their relatives for the first time in many years. Jess is a bit freaked out at first, wondering why everyone she meets stares at her as if she were a ghost. Turns out, Jess is a carbon copy of the young Freya who people believed committed suicide.

Trying to find out how her cousin spent her last days on earth, Jess is working in a secondhand store when she comes upon a locket in one of the donations that’s traced back to Freya. Taking the locket to the law, Jess is amazed when she’s immediately dismissed. Now, the tale of suicide doesn’t quite add up to Jess, and she finds herself on the hunt to discover what actually happened to her cousin that night, and makes enemies in the town both young and old because of her investigation. As Jess keeps up her constant questions, she not only stirs up reactions in the town but also within the confines of her family, and soon figures out that she may be getting herself in a dire situation where she could end up following in the brutal footsteps of Freya.

Highly suspenseful, this is definitely a one-day read. The start is so intriguing that all readers will have to know the truth about why Freya raced to death that night. For any age reader, this tale is a true mystery ‘gem’!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

NO STONE UNTURNED

By James W. Ziskin

Elle Stone is fighting her way through life. That’s how it is for an independent young woman in 1960. You fight with your dead, uber-professorial father, still. You fight off, most of the time, clumsy advances from men. And in Elle’s case, above all you fight to keep the job you love, working as an investigative reporter-photographer.

Written in the same cozy-noir style as his debut novel, “Styx and Stone,” Ziskin’s writing displays a remarkable command of words, building them into a complex and convincing set and cast of characters.

The body of a local high school queen is found in a shallow grave. Elle picks up the report on her police scanner and off she goes on another case, notebook and camera in hand, and a screw-you attitude toward any man who underestimates her.

Elle lives and works in New Holland, a large town in upstate New York, a town whose roots date back to the days of manufacturing mill-towns, of which it was one. As with any such town, there are gentry, including those whose ancestors founded the town, and everyone else, some so new to this country they do not speak English yet. And, as in any town, regardless of rank or pedigree, there are those who will do evil.

Facing the perpetual presumption by others that crime reporting is no occupation for a woman, Elle works all the harder. She beats her rival reporters to crime scenes and she uncovers evidence more skillfully than do the police.

Brick by brick, Elle Stone is constructing her career by demonstrating her skill and her determination, and occasionally, she earns the grudging respect of the men with whom she tangles. For they learn that she is willing to take risks, even dangerous ones, to add another brick to her wall.

Reviewed by Andrew MacRae, author of “Murder Miscalculated” for Suspense Magazine

Mr. MERCEDES

By Stephen King

The title may bring about a flashback of a car that once took the reading world by storm—and even though this novel comes from the same amazing mind who created that ‘killing machine’ decades ago—this deadly auto has nothing to do with the supernatural.

On a drizzly, cold morning, people gather in front of an auditorium waiting for a Job Fair, when out of the fog comes a Mercedes, plowing through the crowd. People die tragically, and the beast in the mask seen behind the steering wheel is never caught.

Brady Hartfield is the ‘token’ retired detective who doesn’t know what to do now that his ‘cop life’ is over. His only action seems to be sitting and watching TV while he contemplates committing suicide. However, Brady gets another chance to feel alive when a letter arrives from ‘Mr. Mercedes’—one of three killers that Brady was never able to catch.

Pulled into the world of a young, computer-savvy man who knows how to hide in plain sight, Brady gets a much needed shot of adrenaline from his ‘written’ bait. In an attempt to end the retired detective for good, the killer makes huge mistakes—angering Brady and allowing him to come back with a vengeance. Unearthing the past, Brady throws himself into the unsolved case. Hired by the sister of Mr. Mercedes’s most disturbed victim, Brady and his small crew go after the killer, hoping to bring him down before he gets the chance to make a bigger name for himself.

Although most fans expect (and wish) for that supernatural/horrific nugget in all of King’s works, this mystery involves very real people. No ghosts, firestarters, or ‘domes’ are offered up, but the references to 24 certainly fit as time ticks away for a desperate cop to stop a screwed-up killer. Perhaps longtime readers will miss that shiny, self-healing Christine, but even if you do, this is most definitely a roller-coaster you’ll want to ride.

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, Author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

INSIDE MAN

By Jeff Abbott

Sam Capra is a former CIA operative who is now the proud owner of a bar in Coconut Grove, Florida. One evening when Sam is enjoying life, he’s visited by another former operative, Steve Robles. Steve is someone Sam used to know, but it doesn’t take long before this old acquaintance upsets his calm way of life. Steve is murdered outside of Sam’s business, and Sam soon learns about a client his friend was working for named Cordelia.

Sam decides to avenge Steve’s murder, and in order to begin, he needs to locate the mysterious client and learn why she was in need of Steve’s protection. Turns out, it’s not that easy; Cordelia just happens to be a member of the crime family she wants to be protected from. The situation forces Sam to go back into CIA mode. Getting a new identification, he becomes Sam Chevalier and heads to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Seems that Steve was working for the woman there, and Sam must now pose as Cordelia’s boyfriend to become the ‘inside man’ at the Varela family compound.

Upon arrival, Sam is met by one of Cordelia’s brothers—the basic hit man—and Rey Varela, Cordelia’s father and head of the family. Sam is invited to attend dinner. There, he begins a path to dealing with a frightening dad whose more than a tiny bit on the crazy side, as well as brothers who fight over what they will get once senility takes their father completely, and an extremely miserable half-sister. To solve this case, avenge his friend’s name, and get out of there alive, Sam must use everything he’s ever learned in his past.

Chases, fights, family dilemmas, and characters that are so engaging and unusual that the reader will not soon forget them, this author has laid it all out on the table for a truly wild ride.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

HARBOR ISLAND

By Carla Neggers

This is the latest book featuring Sharpe and Donovan that will thrill readers, as the author brings them on a fast and furious journey from Boston to Ireland to the rocky coast of Maine.

Emma Sharpe is the granddaughter of world famous art detective, Wendell Sharpe. She is also a key member of a small Boston-based FBI team that works on putting art thieves behind bars. Emma and her grandfather have been on the trail of one such criminal who has literally become a ‘serial’ art thief. The first known robbery took place in Ireland, when an ancient Celtic cross vanished. And in a move that adds insult to injury, the Sharpe team receives replicas of the cross that are sent out after each new theft is done. These crosses are a constant reminder to them of their failure to catch a thief.

Emma receives a message that takes her to a small island in Boston Harbor where she finds the dead body of a woman. The victim is holding a small stone inscribed with a cross that is an exact copy of the ones she has gotten from the mystery thief, who has just added murder to his list of accomplishments. Emma’s fiancé, Colin Donovan, is also an FBI Agent, and is more than upset when she heads off to the island all alone. His plan is to wait for the thief to make a mistake, but Emma has a mind of her own.

Together, they have their hands full with this ruthless killer who, by far, is the cleverest and most dangerous they’ve been up against in a good, long time. As they begin work and the danger to their survival grows, they have to deal with not only a crazy person but also the problems that come about when their personal lives cross lines with their professional ones.

The relationships of these characters are extremely well drawn out, yet the author never lets the action wane. A definite keeper!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE STONE WIFE

By Peter Lovesey

Chief Superintendent Peter Diamond is back, embroiled in a mystery that offers a wealth of wit, and a true puzzle linked to a historical literary genius.

Diamond is more than a bit confused by his latest crime scene. An auction house in Bath was holding a sale of a few bits and pieces of basic junk. But on this particular day, a very strange slab of rock that just happens to have a picture etched/carved into its surface, takes the stage. The carving is apparently Chaucer’s Wife of Bath.

The auctioneer doesn’t assume this will be a big moneymaker, so it startles him and the crowd when a professor starts bidding voraciously, as if the stone is a true prize. In competition with an American museum bidding over the phone, the professor works hard to win. Unfortunately, just when the stone is his, three masked men appear in the auction house with guns and attempt to wheel it out the door. The professor stands up to stop the robbery, but gets a bullet for his efforts instead.

Diamond and team are assigned the odd case, and the clues are sketchy at best. No one in the auction house seems to have even noticed the one man who was inside just waiting to don his mask and call in his other two associates. And there seems to be no plausible reason why anyone in their right mind would kill over a chunk of stone. Even Diamond begins to hate the so-called treasure, because when it’s placed in his office, things begin to go wrong for the detective, causing him to believe that Chaucer has somehow jinxed him from the grave.

Interesting facts send Diamond to Chaucer’s historical house in Somerset, and his colleague deep undercover into a world of people who just may take her out before Diamond can solve the case.

As always, this character and his team are sharp, funny, and grab the reader’s attention from beginning to end!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

MEAN STREAK

By Sandra Brown

This amazing author is again delivering a tale of intrigue, adultery, and murder.

Dr. Emory Charbonneau is a well-known pediatrician who is also a marathon runner of note; she loves it so much she spends time planning marathon events. Emory is in the process of training for an upcoming marathon in a mountainous region of North Carolina. Her husband, Jeff, usually accompanies her to the races, but when they end up having a major argument, he chooses to make other plans and spends time with his mistress while Emory heads to the hills. However, as she is practicing for the run, Emory is brutally attacked and left for dead. Avoiding the Grim Reaper, she wakes up to find herself in a cabin in the North Carolina woods being tended to by a very handsome man who refuses to tell her his name. He does inform her, however, that he found her unconscious on a trail and brought her back to his cabin to recover.

Back in civilization, Jeff is starting to wonder where Emory is because he never received a call and she hasn’t come home. When he finally gets around to reporting her missing, the police are more than a little skeptical regarding his actions, believing Jeff may have done away with Emory to move on to greener pastures.

In the mountains, there is a storm brewing; the land is covered with snow and ice blocking the trail, leaving Emory up on the mountain for an indeterminable number of days. The man with her just happens to have the FBI on his trail, and while Emory slowly discovers what is going on and finds herself falling for the stranger, her husband is literally in his own hell under the watchful eye of detectives who are working overtime to prove his story is bogus.

As readers go back and forth from Emory to Jeff, the plotlines get better and better. So well-written and so entertaining, this is one thriller that can’t be missed!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

SHOOT THE WOMAN FIRST

By Wallace Stroby

Crissa Stone is a professional thief. A recent job has brought good tidings to Crissa and her team; in fact, they have done very well, recently getting away with a million dollars. The owner of that wealth is more than a little unhappy, of course. The money taken made up the proceeds that came from selling drugs owned by Detroit drug lord, Marquis Jackson. The job, Crissa thinks, is a triumph…but she and her team soon find out that the triumph has ended in a mess of trouble.

Drug lord Jackson is a little too confident; he takes hardly any precautions to keep his drug money safe, or even secret, from his fellow crooks. For example, Cordell King, an underling of Jackson, shares information about the cash with Crissa, as well as with Larry Black, a colleague of hers, and Cordell’s cousin, Charlie Glass. Crissa and her buddies don’t have a whole lot of time to plan the robbery, yet it goes off without a hitch. But the celebration time is short, as Crissa must go on the run with a lot more money than she thought she would have in hand.

Heading for Florida to deliver half of the cash to someone else, more trouble ensues as trust becomes an issue. The women in this scenario don’t get along well, and Crissa is more than wary of a man named Roy Mapes, a meth addict who is deep in debt.

Back in Detroit, Jackson is definitely not taking the theft of his money lying down. Hiring Frank Burke, an ex-cop, he makes it Burke’s job to track down the cash before some of the other mobsters can get hold of it. The only thing is, this ex-cop has a plan all his own and will do anything to make his wishes come true.

Crissa is an extremely powerful and intelligent heroine and in this, the third book starring the avid thief. Readers receive a masterful plot they won’t soon forget!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE SHIELD

By Lynn Sholes & Joe Moore

Sholes and Moore have followed up “The Blade” with an even greater, nail-biting thriller with “The Shield.”

Retired OSI agent Maxine Decker’s tranquility is abruptly interrupted by the loud thumping of a helicopter’s propeller. Ushered to Beowulf, the “blackest” of facilities deep inside the wall of the Grand Canyon, Maxine discovers the truth behind the Roswell Incident. She is told that the most secret of alien artifacts have been stolen and that she is needed to recover them. They hold the knowledge of science that is thousands of years more advanced than our world is capable of…the science of displacement…the ability to move an object from one place to another in the blink of an eye. During her Beowulf orientation, the facility is attacked. She is led through a secret tunnel by the head of the facility who is mortally wounded during their escape. His final passing words…“Don’t trust anyone!”

With no one to trust and with a group of Russians trying to kill her, she calls the only person she can trust for help, her ex-husband, OSI agent Kenny Gates.

“The Shield” will take Decker and Gates from the Grand Canyon to Russia, and finally to the Sudan as they try to unravel the truth and stop world destruction. Marked as U.S. traitors, they have no one to turn to except “Tennyson,” the code name for the president, and even his trust is suspect.

Sholes and Moore have written a gripping, adrenaline rush that combines science, conspiracy, and the realities of nuclear war. “The Shield” will grab you and have you screaming at the characters as you become engulfed in this terrifying ride. Sholes and Moore will leave you rethinking what you know about Roswell and Area 51 and leave you longing for the next Decker and Gates adventure.

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September issue part 5)

     Posted on Sun ,16/11/2014 by Administrator

STRONG DARKNESS

By Jon Land

Every lover of the thriller will agree there are books and then there are BOOKS—adrenaline-pumping tales that grip and hold the attention from first to last page. This creation is one of those!

Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong is back, with her stiff spine, high spirit, and smart mouth completely intact. As the keeper of the peace at a funeral, Caitlin tries to halt a Reverend, and his bigoted group of followers from the Beacon of Light Church, from protesting. A young boy is dead—a hero in Afghanistan—who has come home in a box, and all Reverend Tripp and his moronic minions can do is chant against gays in the military. Caitlin tries to reason with the group, treating them like people with hearts. When that doesn’t work, she commandeers a John Deere and literally pushes the protesters into a trench.

After being chastised by her boss, Caitlin receives horrific news from her love, Cort Wesley Masters. Apparently Cort’s son is in the hospital in a coma, put there by an unknown assailant. And a girl is missing who a vicious man is desperate to find—a man who may turn into the worst enemy Caitlin has ever come up against.

At the hospital in Rhode Island, Cort and Caitlin meet up with the detective in charge; a man who has already dealt with Caitlin once before, when her actions in his community left four dead from a situation, Caitlin claimed, was self-defense. The detective threatens that history will be dug up if Caitlin doesn’t leave his city, but the power this Ranger has won’t be stopped…and the investigation is one long thrill ride.

Land offers a thrilling package that includes the worst sort of enemies, the best allies, and links to a period when the frontier was run by a drunken judge and protected by a Ranger who attempted to save lives. This is a BOOK, so read it ASAP!

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

MIDNIGHT CROSSING

By Charlaine Harris

 

Midnight, Texas is just a dot on the map. Charlaine Harris has made it a place I would love to see, maybe even move to. She has again created a town where the people are friendly, the food is good, and not everything is as it seems.

The small town waits anxiously for the arrival of Manfred Bernardo. Having only one stoplight at the crossroads of Witch Light Road and the Davy highway, the traffic it sees, usually about three cars, stays long enough for a gas fill up or food. Manfred is greeted by a helping hand, Bobo, the owner of Midnight Pawn, and his landlord. Others soon introduce themselves. As he meets the locals, Manfred realizes he somehow belongs here. Being psychic, he should have seen that coming, it’s his job after all.

The lazy happy pace of the town is fractured. At their first annual Picnic Day up at Cold Rock, they discover the decomposing body of Bobo’s missing girlfriend Audrey. Everyone thought she just left Bobo. Now it seems she was murdered and Bobo is the prime suspect. The town is determined to prove Bobo’s innocence.

Manfred finds out his neighbors and friends are more than your average townies. Fiji is really a witch. Bobo has a dark family past that comes right up to his front door. He learns why Lemuel only works nights. The Reverend (the Rev) seldom speaks, but when he does, everyone listens. As Manfred and friends try to protect Bobo from his past, they find themselves confronted by a surprising terror right in their own beloved town. The climactic end rattles even the town psychic.

If you ever find yourself at the “Midnight Crossroad,” you might want to stop. Look around, grab a bite to eat, or check out the unique shops. Then again, you might just run the only stop light in town. Either way, Midnight, Texas is no longer just an obscure place on the map.

Reviewed by Leslie A. Borghini, author of “Angel Heat” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

TELL ME YOU’RE SORRY

By Kevin O’Brien

When it comes to a nail-biter, this is it. O’Brien literally presents the definition of ‘crazy’ and readers will be thrilled.

To begin, a fire envelops a home, and tragically a whole family is wiped out. Then, a man accused of being an embezzler also goes to his grave, but not before killing his entire family. Although these seem to be random acts of malice, clues soon appear that show a definitive link: the first wife has died and the husband in each scenario gets married again quickly, almost before the insurance policy pays out. In addition, each holds a secret from the past that will follow them to their graves.

Main character, Stephanie, is a pilot whose family members have expired due to one problem or another, yet she questions the fact that her sister has, as far as the law is concerned, committed suicide. In her heart, she finds this conclusion impossible, and when she hears about another similar murder/suicide that occurred in another part of the country, she immediately contacts the surviving son, Ryan, and partners up with him to find the truth.

The victims pile up. A couple of young men are arrested for these crimes, but Stephanie does not believe that they committed the murders. Found guilty of only robbery and not murder, Stephanie hires a private investigator to unearth any information he can about her brother-in-law’s new wife who no one in the family has met. As the tale unfolds, Stephanie and Ryan make a pact to not stop until they figure out who the real killer is. The past becomes the present, as family secrets come to life and answer the question of who, exactly, wants their victims to ‘say they’re sorry’ before heading straight to hell.

If you want darkness, if you crave chills, this is the tale for you!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

VISIONS

By Kelley Armstrong

For many readers, a new Armstrong novel is like a Christmas gift arriving early. This is no exception.

The Cainsville series began with a book titled “Omens,” and brought together a slightly crooked lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, with the daughter of serial killers. Eden was this girl’s name, yet she’s Olivia Taylor-Jones now because of her adopted family, leaving the stigma of being the child of nasty murderers behind. Oddly enough, with Gabriel, she did end up clearing her real parents’ names of two killings. Not the rest, just yet, but she’s determined to figure out this ever-growing mystery.

In this second tale, Olivia seems happy in Cainsville. The older folk of the town take care of her and watch out for her best interests, so she always feels loved. She works at the local diner, but Gabriel wants her to become his assistant fulltime. Secrets are slowly uncovered by the duo. The kind folk of the town turn into elders; although not the squeaky clean elders that deserve a ton of respect. In fact, these particular people have a mission of their own, and are trying to keep her away from the lawyer…but why?

A handsome man named Ricky comes along and steals Olivia’s interest. The town seems truly happy about this new relationship, but Olivia is up in arms. She needs Gabriel, especially since the day she found a dead woman, dressed just like her, in the front seat of her car. She and Gabriel are soon facing real crimes that are mixing with preternatural visions that may just send Olivia to an asylum.

As it has been with all Armstrong’s series, readers have been given a location that’s dark and mysterious, with two extremely strong characters to hold onto as they walk through a frightening maze to get to the truth. This second step along the Cainsville route is so amazing that it will drive people crazy just waiting for ‘Christmas’ to come around again.

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, Author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

DEEP SHELTER

By Oliver Harris

Detective Nick Belsey is back in his second mystery that is extremely entertaining. This time around, the wise guy detective is leading the reader below the streets of London, down into the depths where shelters were once planned to be built so that people could travel back and forth. Of course, the shelters were never built…or were they?

As the suspenseful plot begins, Belsey is on the tail of a stolen car going down Hampstead High Street at top speed; yet in the blink of an eye, the speeder seems to disappear into thin air. This is where the awesome riddle begins.

Walking through the slightly eerie tunnels, Belsey does his best to find the criminal he seeks. When nothing comes up, however, Belsey books, remembering that he has a date for the evening that cannot be missed. Combining the two, as any good detective would do, Belsey takes his lady friend into the tunnels, which she finds a lot of fun. However…when she disappears in the blink of an eye, Belsey is beyond angry, and a whole lot confused. He knows if he reports the incident, he will be the number one suspect. So, making the difficult choice, Belsey heads deeper into the tunnels to find out what the heck is going on. Determined to discover more about this maze that time forgot, Belsey is surprised when humans hoarding Cold War secrets are in residence there, and he has to play a cat-and-mouse game that Belsey must win in order to make sure he and his girl survive.

This is a real nail-biter and a great ride for readers, as they spend time with a very cool main character. Although Belsey is not exactly the type of guy you would bring home to ‘Mom,’ his bad habits, wit, and charm, make him a fabulous detective and a whole lot of fun!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

AN UNWILLING ACCOMPLICE

By Charles Todd

Bess Crawford, the courageous and kind World War I nurse on the battlefield, returns in this sixth incredible mystery.

On leave, Bess is enjoying her time at home when she is asked to accompany a wounded soldier confined to a wheelchair to Buckingham Palace. This proud man is being awarded a medal for his incredible gallantry and courage by the King. The visit and ceremony go off without a hitch, and Bess is ready to pick the soldier up in the morning so he can be sent back to his quarters. However, when she arrives to get him, he has vanished. The Army as well as the Nursing Services holds Bess accountable for losing the war hero, and she’s ordered to stay home until their inquiry into the matter is finished.

The following day, word comes from the police that the soldier has been spotted…and he has been accused of killing a man in cold blood. Determined to get answers, Bess travels to the town where he was last seen only to discover that the sneaky ‘hero’ has gone AWOL yet again, and the police have no leads.

Paid a visit by Scotland Yard, Bess is accused of irresponsibility, seeing as how none of this would have happened had she not left her patient on his own. Of course, being that the soldier disappeared in the middle of the night, and because she’s a female and could not stay in his room, Bess actually did nothing wrong. But the eyes of the law see women as basically second-class citizens, so Bess must enlist the aid of her good friend Simon to help her solve the mystery of the vanishing soldier and restore her reputation.

Any reader who loves the wartime era, with the vivid atmosphere and the true events of history that changed the course of the world, will love this story. Three novels in one—mystery, historical, and psychological—this author has provided suspense readers with everything they could possibly want.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE NIGHT SEARCHERS

By Marcia Muller

How time does fly! This is book number thirty-one in the Sharon McCone Mystery series, with a plot so imaginative that readers will have no choice but to sit down and settle in for an exciting read they will not forget.

A young couple asks Sharon for help. The wife in this scenario, Camilla, seems to be suffering from either delusions or illusions. She tells the private detective that she has seen some really eerie things lately, including a group of people she calls devil worshippers who are sacrificing humans. Her husband, Jay, listens to this tale as he rolls his eyes. He basically looks like a man who wants to be anywhere else; he is worried that Sharon sees his wife as a woman in desperate need of a mental hospital, not a PI.

When all is said and done, however, Sharon agrees to investigate the story even if it does seem more than a bit odd. In addition, Sharon smells something ‘fishy’ when it turns out that a few of the people tied to the woman’s story are also embedded in a case being investigated by her own husband’s company. Hy is a hostage negotiator and when they team up, Sharon and Hy uncover a group of folks calling themselves ‘The Night Searchers’—people who have been prowling around the streets playing a weird kind of ‘game.’ Add in the fact that Hy’s company has also been called in on a supposed kidnapping of the director of a political group, and the plot just keeps getting juicier.

The wife no longer looks crazy, as the kidnapping erupts into something so much more and Sharon ends up being blamed, forcing her to go undercover to direct the investigation.

The action never slows down, as the two investigators and their employees find themselves dead center in the middle of a truly bizarre group of folks that the reader will never forget. This is a definite keeper!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

DESIGNATED DAUGHTERS

By Margaret Maron

It’s great to be back in Colleton County, North Carolina, with the Knott family.

Miss Rachel, in no pain and expected to pass over soon, is visited by flocks of family members, eager to see her one last time. She’s resting quietly, until she perks up and starts talking a blue streak. Some of what she says is unintelligible, unless you know what she’s referring to. Finally, exhausted, she stops talking and the family goes to get some supper while the aide freshens up the sheets.

Very soon after that, Aunt Rachel is dead, but not of natural causes. Someone smothered her with a pillow.

It’s up to The Honorable Deborah Knott to sort through her tangled family and the other assorted people who were at Rachel’s bedside when she was rattling on about old scandals, to see which one of them felt compelling to stop Rachel from talking. She talks with all of them, dredging up more than one old secret. She and her husband, Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Bryant, look into Rachel’s minister, her neighboring doctor, and others. She eventually finds out about the Designated Daughters, women who care for the elderly, sometimes even when they aren’t family members. Rachel’s daughter was one of these. Deborah knows it’s one of Rachel’s final words that brought about her death, but which one?

Great puzzler with the usual crowded cast of family members. Don’t worry, a family tree is provided.

Reviewed by Kaye George, Author of “Death in the Time of Ice” ■

Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September Issue part 4)

     Posted on Sun ,16/11/2014 by Administrator

DECEMBER PARK

By Ronald Malfi

Ronald Malfi captures the essence of being a teenager so vividly. I felt as though I was one of the gang. Riding my bike, smoking cigarettes, and just hanging out was a way of life. “December Park” stirred up memories of a time when I thought that I was invincible, until the innocence of youth was shattered.

Harting Farms is a quiet community, going about its everyday life. Then the Piper came and children went missing. Angelo “Angie” Mazzone, Peter Galloway, Scott Steeple, and Michael Sugarland are a band of friends. More like brothers, they stick together. When they see the body of the dead girl, possibly the latest of the Piper’s victims, it brings the danger closer to home. Curfews are set, people are scared, and Angie’s father, a police detective, is at a loss.

When Adrian Gardiner moves in, it is Angie who accepts him into the gang first. His stature is the bullying size. He carries a backpack with the Incredible Hulk blazed on it. His mother bares a scary scar around her neck. But somehow, he fits in. The guys take him to their private place in Satan’s Forest. This is where they think, smoke pot, and contemplate all the important things in a boy’s life.

When Adrian tells the guys he has found a locket that he believes belongs to the dead girl, they decide to solve the mystery of the Piper on their own. In the meantime, life goes on. School, fights, and teenage pains, pushes the Piper to the back of everyone’s mind except Adrian. He becomes obsessed. When he goes missing, the guys must grow up quick, stow their fears, and save their friend, before the Piper can take him away, forever.

The surprising climactic ending will have the reader wondering what the Piper of their childhood was and can it still reach out and steal them away.

Reviewed by Leslie A. Borghini, author of “Angel Heat” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

BLOODEYE

By Craig Saunders

Craig Saunders has done a masterful job in creating a thrilling psychological horror novel.

Keane Reid has been running for seven years, ever since his wife, Teresa, was brutally murdered, but he still couldn’t outrun his wife’s voice. It spoke to him often, and he listened.

Keane was a crime scene photographer, now he’s a plumber. He’s called out to the King’s Arms pub. One of the toilets in the restroom was smashed and flooded the area. This isn’t a job he can fix. Just shut off the mains and let the pub’s insurance figure it out, so he thinks until he turns around and sees her nailed to the door. He doesn’t freak, he just stares. Her body is a grizzly display of violence. Then he sees it: a third eye carved into her forehead. Just like what was done to his wife, except this time, the eye opens and says his name. So he runs.

He thinks back about how he brought death home and the whole gruesome period. He remembers finding a missing photograph he took at a crime scene seven years ago, in his house, in his bed, next to his wife. Had the killer followed him?

Keane comes to terms that the maniac who killed his wife is back, but he must also come to terms with her death. If he can just stay in the darkness, he can defeat him. He knows this madman lurks in the shadows.

The thought-provoking ending will catch you like a flash bulb in your eyes and leave you unable to see straight for a while. The descent into one’s psyche is a hard pill to swallow. What you find may be more terrifying than you expect. They say everyone has skeletons in their closet. The part they leave out is that those skeletons have shadows. If the shadow of your skeleton ever decides to step out on its own, you may have to start running.

Reviewed by Leslie A. Borghini, author of “Angel Heat” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

BURIED

By Kate Watterson

Detective Ellie MacIntosh is facing two extremely different cases this time around, and the suspense factor is off the charts!

A young man attempts to get out of a rain storm while out on the lake where he’s been fishing. While pulling the boat ashore, he just happens to fall into a shallow grave located on Ellie’s grandfather’s land. Strangeness erupts as her grandfather calls her instead of the local law to investigate. But not only is this out of Ellie’s jurisdiction, she is also put off by her grandfather’s attitude and thinks that he may just know far more than he’s letting on—including the identity of the victim. The second case is much closer to home for Ellie: a killer who just happens to be spending his time shooting cops in Milwaukee.

The two cases fill Ellie’s workload quite quickly, as she goes back and forth between a present-day menace and a body that was left on Grandpa’s farm several years ago. Working with a new partner doesn’t help as she investigates the first policeman’s death, and tries to figure out why the man’s wife and son were spared. The original thought is that this is an organized crime hit, but when the second cop is shot down in daylight as he was about to give a speeding ticket to a driver—the ‘serial cop killer’ theory rises to the top of their radar.

Ellie and new partner, Lt. Grasso, are asked to go on an undercover hunt to see if there is anyone on the force who cannot be trusted, as more and more interest is placed on the fact that due to various circumstances, a cop could just be the one killing his/her fellow brothers.

This is definitely a page-turner that readers will want to finish in one sitting. And although the characters are not new, these books are most definitely standalones that are packed with surprises for the thriller fan!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

MURDER ON THE MEDITERRANEAN

By Alexander Campion

Lovers of this terrific French mystery series will be thrilled with this new tale featuring Paris Commissaire Capucine Le Tellier, a young woman on the fast track to success in her field of police business.

Trying to get away from her overwhelming workload, Capucine goes on a well-deserved vacation in the form of a Mediterranean cruise. However, as anyone knows by now, the beautiful sunset is not all that is waiting on the horizon for Capucine—a murder is once again going to end up directly in her path. But before the hubbub begins, the cruise is the most relaxing vacation that Capucine has enjoyed in some time. Others accompanying her are Capucine’s husband Alexandre, her cousin Jacques, and her boss, Ines, along with Ines’s husband. Everyone is enjoying life!

But in the middle of the cruise, Nathalie, the cook aboard the yacht, is lost to the sea, either by accident or, more likely, by the hand of a murderer. It’s thought that a sudden storm is the culprit, until a bullet hole found in Nathalie’s jacket alters the minds of everyone. Apparently, Nathalie was fond of some of the men, particularly Serge who’s a member of the crew. She was not so fond of the women on board, however, but the feeling was most definitely mutual. When a bullet is discovered that matches the gun Capucine is carrying, the one who stands for justice suddenly finds the tables turned as she becomes the number one suspect in the vicious crime.

Capucine and Alexandre head to a friend’s estate instead of returning to Paris as they investigate the death. Capucine knows that if she’s arrested for murder, her life as she knows and loves it will be over in a flash. Searching among the idle, rich, and famous, Capucine must find a way to save herself.

A great mystery with glorious settings and a cast that is so diverse and talented, Agatha Christie would be proud!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE WINTER GUEST

By Pan Jenoff

One of the most imaginative writers once again delivers the harshest history in the most soft-spoken manner, bringing to life an unforgettable tale of romance and suspense.

For the Nowak twins, living in a very small community in rural Poland, WWII went from being a bit of gossip in the marketplace to absolute fear, watching their own citizens ripped from their homes in the middle of the night never to be seen again. Helena and Ruth Nowak are in charge of their siblings. With their father deceased and their mother living in a hospital with hardly any chance of survival, the girls work hard to make sure that the youngest siblings are taken care of.

One day a week Helena travels over the rugged mountain pass to visit their mother, and on one such visit hears the moaning of a wounded soldier hidden in the forest. Trying to keep his presence silent so the enemy will not discover him, Helena gets the man into an abandoned chapel and tends to his wounds. His name is Sam, and he’s an American paratrooper who escaped his plane before it crashed—a plane that carried important information that could help the resistance beat back the Germans.

Although a romance commences, Helena’s frightening choice to help Sam by finding the people living in the darkness who’re readying to take on Hitler, places her in terrifying places, with twists and turns that show the Reich in their most monstrous form. As the story progresses, Helena and Ruth must face their own issues of survival; locating passports to flee the country before it’s too late.

The author who stunned the world with “The Kommandant’s Girl” continues book after book to create in-depth characters with courage, bravery, and humanity. The plot is magnificent, and the ending is one that will not be forgotten for its power. A definite keeper!

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

HAUNTED

By Kay Hooper

There is one person who writes paranormal from a place so far above everyone else in the genre: Kay Hooper. Her Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series is incredible, and Kay ups her game—if that’s possible—with “Haunted.”

There is an aura that surrounds not only the characters and agents of SCU but also this book. Kay brings some familiar faces from the unit back together to solve some serial killings along the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Carolinas and Georgia. At the same time, a unit is dispatched to Sociable, a small mountain town in Georgia. The county sheriff, Trinity Nichols, calls Bishop for help after discovering the body of a murdered friend. A death that seems “off.”

In Sociable, we meet a close group of friends known as The Group. Almost all of them were born and raised in Sociable, and decided to either stay or move back. Their lives, hopes, and dreams are intertwined in Sociable. When members of The Group start dying by odd circumstances, Bishop’s team starts to put the pieces of a frightening puzzle together.

We get to tag along with the members of SCU as they use their intelligence and psychic abilities to try and unravel and capture the dark forces at play in Sociable and the Blue Ridge Mountains. In “Haunted,” three relationships in particular stand out: the relationship between SCU Agents Hollis and DeMarco, between Trinity and her dog, Braden, and one between the psychic abilities that the agents and the villains are adept at. This last relationship will shock and astound when you, along with the SCU, discover who or what is killing these people.

If you are a lover of paranormal suspense, “Haunted” and Kay Hooper are your Holy Grail. If you have shied away from it in the past thinking it is too ‘out there,’ this is the perfect time to dive in. Kay Hooper has raised the bar with “Haunted” to a height unreachable by authors with ‘normal’ abilities.

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

MURDER 101

By Faye Kellerman

Always fun to read, Faye Kellerman has written yet another page-turner featuring Decker and Lazarus, a ‘Mr. and Mrs.’ for the ages.

For many years, Peter Decker has been a detective lieutenant with the LAPD, and has witnessed more horrific acts than he can count. He and his wife, Rina, are now leaving the California sun and moving to upstate New York so they can be closer to their children, grandchildren, and a foster son.

Peter has taken a job working for the Greenbury Police Department that’s definitely not as exciting and nowhere near as dangerous as the LAPD. Rina is enchanted with the area and has fit right into their new town, although Peter is not too keen on his new partner, Tyler McAdams. Tyler is a trust fund baby, a Harvard graduate who makes sure everyone knows it, and has a bad attitude. The frosting on the cake is when Tyler starts calling this seasoned detective, ‘Old Man,’ which doesn’t make Peter too happy. However, when things change and the two detectives are finally called to a real crime, Peter is raring to go; he knows police procedure backwards and forwards, and Tyler definitely does not.

First, there has been a break-in at a local cemetery and two Tiffany panels have been replaced by forgeries. Then comes a murder at a local college where a coed is brutally killed and Peter feels as if he’s right back at home. He and Tyler head down the ivy-covered hallways, and on their way, they find secrets, unearth cold cases, and run into people who kill others…just for the fun of it. Peter’s job is no longer boring, and Tyler is soon grateful to be studying at the feet of a real policeman, changing his attitude completely. As Peter enlists his wife’s expert help, the group finds themselves attempting to stop a bloody rampage by an emotionless killer.

Another great Kellerman read with a full spectrum of action and surprises!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September Issue part 3)

     Posted on Sun ,16/11/2014 by Administrator

THE LOW ROAD

By A.D. Scott

This is yet another engaging tale in this author’s mystery series featuring John McAllister, an experienced journalist working at a daily newspaper in Glasgow, Scotland.

Mr. McAllister has a tough choice to make in his life: choosing the type of life he wishes to lead. When he’s located in the Highlands of Scotland, he lives a calm, stable life. However, while there, the passionate, thrilling life of a journalist goes out the window. It’s hard to accept that he may have to settle in to one life and one locale, but then…that’s life.

Oddly enough for John, things seem to turn on a dime, his own problems taking a back seat immediately. John is faced with a missing person’s emergency; that of his good friend, Jimmy McPhee. Jimmy has quite a lot of secrets. In fact, he is supposedly in a horrific blood feud with a razor gang located in Glasgow. John is not exactly excited to be placed in the middle of this hunt, because Glasgow razor gangs are some of the most feared gangs in the world; extremely violent groups that exist in the south side of Glasgow and are so ‘named’ for their weapon of choice.

With the help of another reporter, John has success in finding Jimmy. Unfortunately, the gang finds them. Lucky to escape, John soon comes to understand that he is in danger of losing everything he has in his life: mom, fiancée Joanne, and basically everything he loves and has worked hard to achieve.

Taking the reader through the stunning scenery of the Highlands, down through the miserable slums of Glasgow, this story truly offers a uniqueness all its own. There are many references to the ‘city vs. the glen’; not to mention the ‘law vs. the laws of the streets,’ that hold the reader’s attention. This is a masterfully written book that makes the audience feel as if they are right by the side of McAllister, just waiting for the fireworks to erupt!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

CRADLE TO GRAVE

By Eleanor Kuhns

The setting of this extremely good mystery is the bitter, vicious cold of New England, where private, dark characters of the eighteenth century reside.

Will Rees is a traveling weaver, and he and his new wife, Lydia, are leaving their farm in Maine and heading for Dover Springs, New York—a locale that is even colder and more isolated than Maine, if that’s at all possible. The Reeses’s journey is a determined one, as they set out to go help their close friend, Sister Hannah, who is usually referred to as ‘Mouse.’ Mouse is living in a Shaker community, and stands accused of kidnapping five children from their mother, Maggie Whitney—a crime she swears she did not commit.

As the couple are on their way to New York, they receive news that the accuser, Maggie, has been killed, and the prime suspect is Mouse. Traveling faster, when they arrive in Dover Springs, Will tries to get more information out of the folks in residence, yet the more he inquires, the more it seems that all the residents have secrets of their very own. Mouse defends herself, insisting that she did take the children for her own. She simply saw that they were being neglected by a drunk mom who did not care one iota about her own kids. But when Maggie is found dead in an open grave, doors open onto many secrets regarding the woman, and revelations about all her neighbors arise.

The depth and color the author gives to this small, freezing town in the middle of nowhere offers a chill to the bone. And the eighteenth century criminal acts are far more frightening in such a locale where everyone knows everyone’s business…and you never know if your neighbor happens to be carrying a grudge (or a weapon), when they knock on your door. Thought provoking and unforgettable, the author creates an interesting plot filled with historical details and characters that readers won’t soon forget. Great job!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE DISTANCE

By Helen Giltrow

A fast-paced debut featuring an interesting duo: a London lady who has tried to put her past behind her, and a hit man who has other ideas where her wishes are concerned.

Karla is no longer Karla when it comes to her new life. Leaving behind the business of retrieving and trading secrets, Karla has now dropped that world and become Charlotte Alton. Although secrets are no longer the biz, choosing to be an elegant socialite in London is not exactly ‘hiding out in a cave.’

Charlotte no longer wants anyone to know that she once bought and sold information that was buried far too deep for anyone else to find. She also wants to forget about the new identities she once sold, allowing folks who wanted to disappear forever to be completely erased from existence. Trouble is, ‘Karla’ is hard to shed. She made enemies, to say the least, and when the London socialite reveals her face and name, a specific man, Simon Johanssen, comes (back) into her life.

Simon is a hit man for hire. And although Charlotte has been out of the sinister world, she finds herself being offered just one more job: a newly built experimental prison must be invaded, and someone needs to be taken out. A someone who, according to prison records, isn’t even there.

With this strange scenario, Charlotte has a right to believe she’s being set up. Especially since the person she has to break out of jail is the same person that the hit man is after.

A bit confusing, this book is still a top-pick because it is so well written. Figuring out who is who is a complete challenge for the reader; not to mention, uncovering who is actually on the up-and-up makes for a fun mystery to see who is in more danger: Karla or Simon. For a debut novel, this book is a fabulous read!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian & Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

SHARK FIN SOUP

By Susan Klaus

“Shark Fin Soup,” the second book in the Christian Roberts series, is a superb thriller with more twists and turns than a rollercoaster ride. Page one begins with Christian docking his forty-seven-foot sloop in Nassau. The boat is a bloody mess, and his wife Allie’s murdered body is in the cabin. He claims he was scuba diving when the murder took place. Did Christian murder Allie, or was she killed by someone else?

Christian becomes a person of interest with the Bahamian Police and the FBI. With only circumstantial evidence, the authorities are unable to detain Christian. He leaves Nassau filled with grief and remorse, but is determined to finish the quest his wife began, stop the fin traders, and save sharks from extinction.

He soon discovers the shark-fin trade is fraught with violence and greed. A blond, blue-eyed Caucasian, Christian is unable to penetrate the Asian wall of secrecy surrounding the controversial delicacy known as shark fin soup. Can one desperate man find a way to defeat a worldwide network bent on the extinction of an entire species? Will Christian evade the FBI’s ever tightening net in time to honor his wife’s memory and redeem himself?

Susan Klaus captured my attention on the first page and held it throughout this masterful tale of murder, revenge, greed, honor, and redemption. Woven into her story is a real-world disaster of global proportions. It is my sincere hope that readers will heed the dire warning this story conveys and stand together to save our oceans.

Reviewed by S.L. Menear, author of “Deadstick Dawn” published by Suspense publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

CLOSE TO HOME

By Lisa Jackson

This acclaimed author is back to captivate her fans. And as always, the fans are gifted with a real page-turner.

Beginning at Blue Peacock Manor in October of 1924, a poor woman runs through the dilapidated house and ends up falling to her death, setting up for the fact that, yes, the Manor will certainly be haunted by a presence for a long time to come.

It is October of 2014, at Blue Peacock Manor, and Sarah McAdams and her two daughters have come home to Oregon to make a fresh start. Sarah is bound and determined to renovate the old Victorian mansion she grew up in, but her daughters, Jade and Gracie, are not so inclined. All they see is a run-down house they have no desire to live in.

As they pull into the drive, Sarah’s memories begin their assault. Images come forth with regard to her mother who was never a joy to live with; not to mention, Sarah’s half-sister who disappeared, and Sarah’s own frightening experience when she found herself on the widow’s walk alone and completely delirious. When Sarah was younger, she’d always thought the Manor was haunted, and it doesn’t take long for her own, Gracie, to witness a lady in white running up the stairs.

Sarah is trying to settle the haunted figures and begin reconstruction immediately. But there is also a problem in the small town. Teenage girls are vanishing, and Sarah is scared for her daughters’ safety. She knows that somewhere in the past, perhaps locked up in her childhood memories of the Manor, is a very real and terrifying danger only she can stop. And if she succeeds, no girl will ever have to worry again.

A ‘class-A’ writer who can combine everything from romance to suspense to a real creep fest as easily as Martha Stewart can create a killer cupcake, Jackson has made sure to invent a story where everyone will go home to the ‘place’ they love and…think twice about going inside. Excellent read!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian & Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

HAUNTED

By Randy Wayne White

Hannah Smith, the inventive fishing guide and part-time private investigator living in Florida is back, and this third tale is a whole lot of fun.

Hannah is hired by a wealthy Palm Beach socialite by the name of Bunny. Bunny wishes the P.I. to look into a real estate deal she invested in because there are more than a few things that may stand in her way of making a profit. The real estate in question is a very large bit of acreage that Bunny and her friends want to develop. But the property definitely has its quirks. The historical home of deceased cattle baron, Charles Langford Cadence sits on the land, which was once the subject of a TV ‘ghosthunter’ program. This program brought about the discovery of human bones and several artifacts that proved a Civil War battle may have taken place there; a historical event that would definitely end all development plans.

Hannah and her friend decide to camp out in the old house, but the event is not only spoiled by a horde of scorpions that rain down from the ceiling but also by the presence of a ghost. A dark-haired crying woman, who, rumor has it, is Irene Cadence, the wife of the former owner, is seen in the home causing further disturbance. Add in a blockade runner who apparently left a journal behind that shows where some gold and silver coins from the Confederate payroll are located, and you have many people who become very interested in this ghostly property.

Along with all this suspense comes a fake archeologist, and a business that sells snake venom called ‘Slew Vaccine and Herpetile’—a storefront that plays home to all kinds of snakes (and a couple of free chimpanzees, as well).

With all this action, it’s safe to say that by the end of this mystery, Hannah comes in contact with many odd species from all kingdoms, which makes this a superbly written book that readers will never forget.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

MOON IN A DEAD EYE

By Pascal Garnier

In this story, Martial and Odette have moved into a retirement complex; a gated village that provides all sorts of security, as well as companionship for the elderly. Their main reason for moving is that back at their family home in Paris, they had been truly frightened by the increasing amount of crime. Not to mention, their close neighbors from the past have moved away or passed on.

When they try to settle into the complex, however, they are upset to learn that they’re actually the only residents, and the one bit of companionship they have is Monsieur Flesh, a grumpy caretaker/gardener. But that’s not where the negatives end; much to their dismay, the swimming pool, club house, and social secretary, are not even available onsite yet.

Martial becomes bored with his wife’s continuous shopping, and has become listless because of the daily rain showers. But things begin to look up when some new residents move in; first, Maxime and Marlene, and then Lea, a single woman, comes to join them. There are now five residents and Nadine, a social secretary, is finally appointed, and the swimming pool is filled up and ready to go. But nothing is as good as it seems.

Life changes at the complex when some gypsy families set up camp outside the gates. Maxime is a bit under the weather and Marlene is told not to go out alone, as the gypsies cannot be trusted. Marlene is scared, and she and Maxime end up fortifying their apartment, choosing to become hermits for the sake of safety. But when Martial and Odette, concerned for their neighbors, attempt to see them, the visit ends in disaster.

This is a very good read, where the characters are extremely believable. The combination of dry humor and sudden fear weave together perfectly, as each new person arrives on the scene. From harmonious to horror, this one offers the entire spectrum of emotions that suspense lovers crave.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE GOLEM OF HOLLYWOOD

By Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman

Considering the authors of this new tale, it will be no surprise when readers run to bookstores or hop online to read it as fast as possible. As always, the Kellermans entertain and surprise, but with a somewhat slower story than usual as they spell out a puzzle of monumental proportions.

A creature called a ‘golem’ dates back to early Judaism. Adam was initially intended to be a Golem because apparently these creatures look after a certain place and its people, protecting them from harm.

With that fact known, the Kellermans introduce readers to Jacob Lev, a hard drinking detective working with the Los Angeles Police Department who’s asked to investigate a crime scene—a scene that turns out to be a head without a body found in a vacant home in the Hollywood Hills. As Jacob begins to unearth clues to solve this vicious murder, he finds that there are related crimes being committed all around the country that have the same MO. Conclusion? There is a serial killer on the loose.

Jacob finds strange information in Prague, locating an ancestor of his who just happened to have been a rabbi said to have ‘built’ a golem long ago to protect him. The story becomes muddled for the burnt-out detective, as a beautiful lady comes into the mix named Mai; a woman who Jacob is trying to locate because he is sure that she has something to do with the death he’s investigating. Not to mention, she may just have information on a really ugly ancient monster that is on a mission of revenge.

Going back and forth between this story and chapters on the first family. (No, not the President, the FIRST family), this crime thriller presents supernatural issues that may confuse at times. However, it is a Kellerman tale through-and-through, which means readers are given the chills that they’ve come to rely upon from this awesome ‘family’ of writers.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

Book reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September Issue part 2)

     Posted on Sun ,16/11/2014 by Administrator

THE REST IS SILENCE

By James R. Benn

This Billy Boyle World War II mystery is an exceptionally written book, taking readers back to the time of D-Day preparation. The ‘powers that be’ are gathering men and war equipment on the southern coast of England at a place called Slapton Sands. The reason for this is ‘Operation Tiger,’ which will be a practice run for the coming invasion of Normandy.

One morning, an unidentified corpse washes up on shore and United States Captain Billy Boyle and his partner, Lt. Piotr “Kaz” Kazimierz, are assigned to investigate how and why a body has drifted into such a highly-restricted area. Seeing as that the Army is utilizing Slapton Sands as the locale of their secret rehearsal, Billy and Kaz must find out if this particular body is one of an enemy spy.

As luck would have it, Kaz has an old school chum living nearby who agrees to give the guys a place to stay while their investigation is in progress. The men love it there at Ashcroft and make it their business to get to know the family, as well as meet up with some very interesting characters.

Just when the duo think that they have the problem solved, a terrible tragedy occurs during the D-Day rehearsal that takes the lives of hundreds of men. Topping it all off, things begin to get complicated at Ashcroft when family members turn on one another, hurling family secrets and causing pain until a person in the family dies. It is unknown if the cause of death is a heart attack or something far worse, and both Billy and Kaz must rise to the challenge in order to bring the truth to light.

The plot and historical sights and sounds are top-notch as the author brings readers back to the time where the fate of the United States was unknown. Whether a reader holds WWII books or suspense books close to their heart, this one will be a true find.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

SHADOWS ON A MAINE CHRISTMAS

By Lea Wait

New Jersey college professor and antique print dealer Maggie Summer finds herself wrestling with life-changing choices. Longing for a child, she is on her agency’s short list to adopt a daughter. Perhaps, even two. But there’s a catch. Her would-be fiancé, Will, has made it clear that he has no interest in children. Perhaps she and Will aren’t destined to be together after all.

Maggie decides that she and Will need to have an “important conversation,” and accepts his invitation to spend Christmas in Waymouth, Maine, where he is now the primary caregiver for his Aunt Nettie. On the surface, Waymouth is the perfect New England town. But beneath the surface, there are secrets—many secrets. And one of the most explosive ones involves Aunt Nettie and several of her close friends, all of whom are now in the eighties and nineties.

Two of Aunt Nettie’s closest friends are the wealthy Ruth Weston and her sister, Betty Hoskins. Betty is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, and Ruth has hired a local woman, Carrie Folk, to help with her care. Then Carrie is found dead, under suspicious circumstances, just before Christmas.

Maggie’s reputation as an amateur sleuth is known to the local police, and she and Aunt Nettie are enlisted to help in the investigation. With unexpected results.

“Shadows on a Maine Christmas is the seventh in Lea Wait’s Antique Print Mystery series. And like the six previous ones, it’s an intelligent and entertaining mystery, with likeable characters and a plot that keeps the reader guessing until the very last page. Can’t wait for number eight!

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Funerals Can Be Murder,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

THE DEATH OF LUCY KYTE

By Nicola Upson

In her fifth Josephine Tey mystery, Nicola Upson weaves together real-life mystery writer Tey with the real-life mystery known as the Red Barn Murder. Given that the novel is set in 1936 and the Red Barn Murder occurred in 1828, this takes some literary cleverness that, overall, Upson pulls off with ease. Tey is notified that Hester Larkspur, the godmother she never really knew, has passed away and left her a cottage in Suffolk. The cottage is near the former location of the infamous Red Barn, and was purchased by Hester because of her longtime fascination with the crime; as a stage actress, she portrayed the murder victim, Maria Marten, over a thousand times in a touring melodrama. In addition to the mysterious backdrop provided by the century-old murder, there are some contemporary mysteries as well, such as trying to find one Lucy Kyte—also named in Hester’s will—and the odd, lonely death of Hester herself.

The story is largely character driven, and the hints of a modern mystery, perhaps somehow linked to the Red Barn Murders, are few and subtle. This isn’t a mystery novel, but a novel that happens to have a bit of mystery. That isn’t meant as a criticism; Upson’s portrayal of Tey is engaging and carries the reader through a story that doesn’t have chase scenes and shoot outs every few pages. This is a story about how Tey cleans out the secluded cottage of her godmother and becomes fascinated by a murder through reading old diaries and interacting with the locals who still have strong feelings about the true crime that gave their village a bad name.

Upson fleshes out the story with Tey’s personal life; that Tey was notoriously private gives Upson room to imagine her motivations, friendships, and loves, which the author does with great affection. Fans of historical fiction will be drawn into this quiet story largely set in the English countryside, and readers returning to the series will enjoy the new developments in Tey’s relationships.

Reviewed by Scott Pearson, author of “Star Trek: The More Things Change” and cohost of the Generations Geek podcast ■

 

THE MARATHON CONSPIRACY

By Gary Corby

Corby has most definitely brought to readers three amazing tales they will not soon forget. And now comes a fourth historical mystery set in Greece that, yet again, is so well-written you will feel as if you are truly part of the Ancient World.

The elections are about to be held in the city of Athens and the city’s (wise) statesman, Pericles, asks his inquiry agent, Nicolaos, to look into a matter that could undermine all of the political elections. It seems that a skeleton has been found at a girls’ school located not too far from Athens.

Nico is the super sleuth, to say the least; a sleuth who has just taken time off to wed his investigating partner, Diotima. Of course, Pericles and the case put that happy occasion on hold. Especially when the remains just happen to be those of Hippias. This was the massive traitor to the Greeks and, in the Battle of Marathon, was killed and left behind in Persia. The veterans of that battle are beyond angry. They have always claimed they were the men who thwarted the traitor, and they need to gain favor and political power, not stones to the head. And if this is not enough trouble, one of the girls who found the bones is dead, and the other has gone missing.

Shocking surprises arrive to the Athenian world, as they wonder why and how the traitor is ‘back.’ There is no obvious reason behind the bones finding their home in Athens, and Nico and Pericles must solve the mystery as fast as possible before Athens becomes a bed of power hungry, angry, willing-to-do-anything tyrants.

This will have the wealth of historical mystery buffs jumping up and down for joy. As with Corby’s other works, the tale is full of humor, suspense-filled plots, subplots, and characters that are unforgettable. It is no overstatement to say that Corby most definitely knows his history backwards and forwards, providing stories that are beyond exciting.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE FUHRER’S DAUGHTER

By Joshua Graham & Jack Patterson

I have a serious issue to discuss with Joshua Graham and Jack Patterson. How dare they write the most intriguing book I’ve read in a long time in episodic fashion?

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if Hitler and Germany won WWII? Well, Graham and Patterson have and what they’ve written will frighten and astound you. The year is 2015. Germany, having won, has colonized the world, and the country we call home is known as the Aryan States of America.

Grace, the Aryan States’ Fuhrer’s daughter is about to turn eighteen, and about to be confirmed as the regent of the Third District. While toweling off after a swim, Grace finds an envelope with her name on it. Intrigued, she opens it, only to find a clue. More follow until the last leads her to a forbidden room on the top floor of the mansion she lives in with her parents. Using her charm, she convinces a young soldier to go into the ‘library’ with her so she can find out where the trail ends.

Where it ends is in the shattering of everything she knows to be true. Where it ends is in the truth of the horrors of the Nazi regime and the holocaust.

What would you do if everything you loved was a lie? If everyone you loved was a lie? If your own life was a lie? How would you feel if you could not trust anyone? Would you run?

That’s what Grace does—she runs for her very life—but does she make it or get captured? Stay tuned for episode two to find out. Episodic novels are making a comeback and have some sort of ending at the end of each episode. “The Fuhrer’s Daughter” is the first I’ve read where the ending is a true cliffhanger.

The premise behind “The Fuhrer’s Daughter” is pure genius. Kudos to Graham and Patterson! I cannot wait for episode two.

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

Guest Blog: Len Maynard and Mick Sims “Two for One”

     Posted on Thu ,06/11/2014 by Administrator

How Do Two Writers Write As One Person?

As a writing duo it’s become more fluid as the years have passed. Initially we would finish each others stories and argue about which version was better. We’d spend hours discussing a single word if we felt passionately enough about it. Often one would run out of steam with an idea and simply pass it over to the other who would finish it. Sometimes a story would be finished and the other would revise it — examples would include a 7500 word story that became 13000 and a 14000 that ended as 7500.

With the novels, each one has been different. One, for example, was written by one of us and the other completely revised it, moving chapters around and deleting characters and fleshing out others. Another novel was written by one of us and the other merely touched it up with minor revisions. Another was started by one of us, carried on by the other, and then passed back to the original author who finished it, adding chapters inserted into the earlier parts.

We used to brainstorm, sometimes for weeks on end. We remember one novel we planned early on in our careers was discussed at length and completely story-boarded – a process that went on for weeks if not months. In fact it took so long to plan we both ran out of steam on it and it was shelved. We refined the process after that.

We tend always to begin with an idea, a strong opening sequence and take it from there. Characters are often added in as the plot demands and either get expanded or become secondary.

It was a painful journey to get to the fluent process we have now. Those early stories were all a learning curve of course. What we don’t think we realised at the time was that we were both not only learning to write – and all writers develop at different speeds – but we were also learning to write with another person. Those two things combined certainly made for a combustible mix.

 

Taking it right up to the present day, when we write as many novels as stories, we each write the complete book/story and then hand it over to the other for revision which includes proofing, copy editing, as well as revising if we feel it needs it. With each book we spend days at the end reading it together, page by page, for grammar, continuity, repetition and other flaws we find.

 

We find it is important that a book has a single voice – an author point of view, a narrative drive the reader can connect with. Luckily our styles have developed over the years into a single M&S style so there is never a case of anyone being able to see the joins. Although one reviewer did say they could – on a book one of us had written alone. No wonder they couldn’t reply when we asked them where the joins were! We also got a review along the lines of – did it really take two of them to write this pile of **** – which was one reason behind the change of name to Maynard Sims.

 

We wrote as individuals for a while then realised that we would be competing for the same markets, so the sensible thing seemed to be to pool our resources. And we’ve been writing together ever since.

 

We have been writing together for so long now that we respect each other’s strengths and recognize each other’s weaknesses.

We were LH Maynard & MPN Sims at first but shortened that to Maynard Sims when we signed with Samhain. As we have grown older we have recognised we each contribute something different to the team, and we always have our own projects on the go, even if they may end up as Maynard Sims stories. We came up with the very imaginative pen name which now works as our “brand”. Downsides include that it sounds a bit pretentious.

Another way we did it was for one of us to completely write a story and then hand it to the other to edit, revise, as needed. That was when a lot of rows began. How dare he suggest changes to my precious story? We had a meeting place by the river, near the pub, and after a row, sometimes hours after, we would meet up there as if by pre-arrangement and come to an agreement about the story. Pregnant pauses were our speciality, with silence as a weapon. We’d spend hours discussing a single word if we felt passionately enough about it. We were, and still are, passionate about our writing.

Over the years we have smoothed it all out. We are open and honest with each other, and no offence is taken when change is suggested. The friendship overrides the writing.

 

We have written together for so now that we don’t really know any other way. Yet we write pretty much separately until the novel or story is written and then we use the best of each other’s skills to hone the result until it is the best it can be, and is a joint effort. Mick says that no one else would put up with him. We won’t divorce. We are like an old married couple but without the sex – like we said an old married couple. Only death will stop the writing partnership and Mick jokes that he already has Len’s eulogy written and edited. If and when one of us goes will the other carry on? We think so. Writing is in the blood now, it’s what we do. It’s hard work creating a story but there is no better feeling than when it goes well. Mick has a voodoo doll of Len at home with enough pins left to carry us over the next few years.

 

Len says there are no suitors potential or otherwise on the horizon. It sounds like we have a very cosy writing relationship, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact it’s fiercely competitive, but in a good way. When Len writes something what he wants to do is to blow Mick’s socks off. That’s the challenge. That’s why he thinks we’re very fortunate to have this partnership. Sitting alone at the computer, writing away with no idea who your potential reader might be must be a very daunting process. Len read a writing tuition book years ago and in it the author said that you must write the book for “the anonymous reader looking over your shoulder.” Len doesn’t have to do that. Mick’s the reader looking over his shoulder, and Len figures if he can impress Mick then he must be doing something right.

 

That is a key secret to a writing partnership. The Ego Has Landed. It must be set aside, the ego, the feeling that you are the better writer of the two. We are lucky that we were friends first, and last. That may have prevented us reaching greater success but it has made it hugely enjoyable. Each writer in the partnership has to have the best interests of the joint venture as the cornerstone of what is being done. If one thinks they are superior it just won’t work. There has to be mutual respect and a common goal.

 

We write individual projects but generally they end up as joint books. We each have different ideas all the time and will often write them without reference to the other. When they are completed though the book is handed over to the other for revision, proofing, editing, and approval.

 

As individual people we are very different but there are just enough things we agree on to maintain the partnership. Neither of us is ever totally right and neither is ever totally wrong. It is important when setting out to write jointly that the aim is agreed. What is the partnership trying to achieve? What style will the book be? Market? Who is the lead voice in the book?

 

So that’s about it. Like the person you are going to write with – or at least respect their writing abilities. Agree on the type of book, style, and outline the plot and story. And then agree how it will get written. Will one write it all and pass it over for second draft? Will each do a chapter, or each write exclusively about one character each? There are different ways to approach it and it is vital to get the structural framework agreed before you even start.

Good luck. We have survived for 40 years. Here’s to it never ending.

Len Maynard & Mick Sims

www.maynard-sims.com

Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine

     Posted on Wed ,29/10/2014 by Administrator

Suspense Magazine September 2014 Reviews

Inside the Pages

 

BEAUTY WITH A BOMB

By M.C. Grant

This opens with one of the most dramatic and shocking scenes I have ever read. The first sentence, “Heavily pregnant, the woman stands on the precipice of the parking garage,” can’t help but hook the reader. But the opening scene is far more than a pregnant woman who is in despair over her situation. As we soon find out, she isn’t even pregnant. She is a victim of a horrendous ring of criminals who take trafficking in human lives one step further than terrible.

The narrator, Dixie Flynn, is a journalist on the San Francisco crime beat who has no qualms about getting personally involved with the victims of crimes she reports. She is soon in league with a group of fearless Polish women out to destroy the ring of traffickers, and especially their leader, known as Jacks, who cares nothing for the human lives he destroys to make a profit.

The author tackles an issue that is more and more a concern around the world today, and while some of the details of the story are a bit over the top, Grant’s exploration of this issue in fiction makes it more than a gripping story. His skill with words draws the reader in to make the characters come alive, and the book is filled with outrageous characters, including Dixie’s personal spy Jakob and the brave but horribly scarred Berta. Protagonist Dixie Flynn is larger than life, a real superhero, and I was cheering her on with every page. Interspersed in the narrative, Dixie gives “tips” from the obvious to the outrageous, such as “Pointing out irony doesn’t always endear one to others. Sometimes it’s best to pretend you’re actually being sincere.” Grant does what every writer hopes to do—entertain and enlighten at the same time. I applaud this book.

Reviewed by Kathleen Heady, author of “Hotel Saint Clare” ■

 

THE SCULPTOR

By Gina Fava

Gina Fava provides a fresh voice in a genre that can be predictable. Mara Silvestri, a grad student in Rome, is the daughter of a glamorous tennis star and a deceased photojournalist. As she and the other grad students make their way to Rome University, RU, they hear that The Sculptor has taken another victim. The serial killer who has been stalking the students of Rome’s three major universities for the past seven years has just killed another beautiful coed with movie star looks. The killer seems to be killing these women for one reason…so he can cast different parts of their bodies in order to build the perfect woman.

Upon arriving at the university, Mara discovers that the latest victim was to be her new roommate. At RU’s orientation, Mara meets Jesse Tonno, an Italian grad student with rock star looks and an ego as big as his smile. He is just the first in a long list of characters to enter her life. From students to faculty to the Italian police, it seems everyone she meets could possibly be The Sculptor.

Gina Fava takes the reader on a ride so fast and twisted that you will be dizzy trying to figure out who to trust. You will be riveted to the page as you discover along with Mara that everything she thought was true is a lie. Come along as she races to uncover the truth before she becomes The Sculptor’s next victim.

Gina Fava has a winner on her hands with “The Sculptor.”

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

STALKED: THE BOY WHO SAID NO

By Patti Sheehy

Although the title of this book may be misleading to some, this is a truly incredible tale of a young man, Frank Mederos, who utilized his talents to get away from Cuba’s Communist system of government under Fidel Castro.

Born in Cuba, as Frank matured, he grew to dislike the things that Cuba’s government stood for; not to mention the tyrant who truly wanted to destroy his own people. When he was still a Cuban citizen, Frank was taken into the army and became a member of Castro’s Special Forces. While there, he received privileges, gaining access to top-secret military information. Being a member of Special Forces gave Frank a look into the schemes and lies that ‘made’ some of the most powerful people in the world; people that the Cuban military were not comfortable with.

This is a realm that Frank simply can’t stand. He cannot conform to what is expected of him under the Castro regime, and wants to join his girlfriend who left Cuba and is now living in America. Escape, however, is not exactly easy. Making two attempts by sea, Frank is unsuccessful, and he begins to look for another ‘seat’ on the next available boat. Turns out that the departure of the boat he secures coincides with the date of his military exercises. The conundrum is dangerous: stay and miss the boat or run and be hunted down by soldiers who will never stop. Do or die, Frank must make a decision that will put his life at risk.

This is a very moving, fictionalized version of a true story that will pull the reader into Frank’s courageous and dangerous tale. This is certainly a thrilling history lesson that you won’t soon forget, as audiences cheer for the boy who faced Fidel and said, ‘No!’

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

MADE FOR YOU

By Melissa Marr

Both YA readers and folks who are a ‘mite’ older will join together immediately to enjoy this book.

This creepy tale centers around Eva Tilling, a young girl who seems to have everything, yet unlike the ‘norm’ is not stuck up or stuck on herself in any way. Attending a party, Eva searches the crowd for her ex-childhood pal, Nate. Nate is a bit of a rebel and would probably not be the perfect ‘catch’ for Eva, but she likes him all the same, and wants nothing more than to rekindle their friendship. But while Eva’s gaze longs for him, another watches her like a hawk.

‘The Judge’ is highly disappointed in his prey, as Eva pays him no attention whatsoever. Although her lack of interest is benign, the boy is sure that she is deliberately ignoring him. And right then and there, he makes the decision to end her life.

Shortly after the event has passed, Eva finds herself at a local café. Leaving at dusk to walk home, Eva is hit by a car and left for dead. When she wakes up in the hospital, she has no memory of the accident, but a new ‘talent’ has developed; if someone touches Eva, she can see the scene of their eventual death. Believing that the injuries she sustained in the accident are simply causing hallucinations, Eva dismisses the ability as nothing more than an aftereffect. However, when she sees images of the deaths of friends, Eva soon realizes she has been given a horrific gift she doesn’t want.

Eva remains completely oblivious to the fact that ‘The Judge’ is still watching. Convinced they are meant for each other, her stalker continues to kill others while insisting that he and Eva will one day be together. As his twisted psyche meets up with some definite surprises from the newly ‘gifted’ girl, the games begin.

Pick up this book for a great afternoon read, just finish before dark. This one is scary!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian & Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

GOLD DIGGER

By Frances Fyfield

A British story set in an English town in a house by the sea. (In other words, readers can name the town anything they want while wondering exactly where it is so they can avoid it for the rest of their lives.) This is a true psychological thriller telling the tale of Di, a seventeen-year-old thief from the wrong side of the tracks attempting to live in this storybook village. Another resident happens to be a wealthy art collector by the name of Thomas Porteous.

Di was in the collector’s home at one time in order to steal anything she could find; caught in the act, she was sent straight to prison. While she was incarcerated, Thomas sent her art books, and when she was released back into society, they became close. Despite their age difference, this unlikely couple form an unlikely alliance and eventually a marriage takes place. Thomas and Di are real soul mates, and the two of them soon find abandoned and forgotten paintings, choosing to hang them on the walls of their seaside home.

When a death takes place, kin come from all directions in order to get their hands on the expensive loot. Family members are dissected…with a very sharp straight razor. Apparently, these people from hell are sure there is a gold digger within their midst, and both mind games, and violence commence…without anyone giving a care in the world for Di, Thomas, or their utter devotion to each other. Greed is at the forefront of this tale, with each character having their own plan and making the biggest mistake of them all. They each underestimate the ‘enemy’ they’re going up against.

Di is a strong character that builds her courage throughout the tale. Resourcefulness is the name of her game, and for a story that begins with a calm, easy air the build-up of twists and turns will have readers completely enthralled.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT

By David Shafer

Part paranoid thriller and part trippy sci-fi, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is an entertaining read that takes our current surveillance society to an all-too-believable next level.

The novel leisurely introduces three central characters: Leila Majnoun, a nonprofit worker in Myanmar; Leo Crane, the conspiracy-minded black sheep of a wealthy family; and Mark Devereaux, author of a vacuous self-help book that has inexplicably catapulted him into the limelight. Leo and Mark were once best friends, and a series of coincidences will tie them back together along with Leila in the mix. All three characters have reached turning points and, for various reasons, are watching their lives spin out of control. Desperate to get themselves back on track, they find themselves drawn into a struggle between the Committee, a multinational corporate conspiracy taking control of private data, and Dear Diary, the radical underground movement trying to hold the line against plutocratic overlords.

The book, perhaps, takes too much time developing these separate strands before pulling them together. Most readers won’t mind the roundabout route; the characters are well drawn, the writing clever and evocative, the tone balanced between serious issues and moments of levity. Still, revealing integral elements of the story that veer into science fiction late in the book is a bit jarring. The first part of the story could be happening right now in the real world, so by the time some outlandish sci-fi gadgets show up halfway through, it’s a little like you’ve turned the page into a different book.

Despite these speed bumps, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is a compelling character-driven story with plenty of action and contemporary issues behind the plot twists. Be forewarned, however, that the book ends on a cliffhanger for a follow-up which has not yet been announced. It’s a rewarding read that leaves you impatient for the sequel.

Reviewed by Scott Pearson, author of “Star Trek: The More Things Change” and cohost of the Generations Geek podcast ■

 

DIRTY TRICKS

By Judith K. Ivie

In “Dirty Tricks,” the seventh Kate Lawrence Mystery by Judith K. Ivie, Kate and her partners in Mack Realty, Margot and Strutter, investigate the sometimes adversarial relationship between authors and publishers and the frightening consequences of thwarted creative egos.

When Margot’s aunt, well-known mystery writer Maybelle (May) Farnsworth, moves to town a few weeks before Halloween, she soon becomes the target of a neighborhood prankster, or so she believes at first. When the dirty tricks escalate from annoying (bats loose in the house) to terrifying (all exit doors of May’s home are glued shut), May’s secret sideline as the publisher of a line of sexy romance novels comes into play.

On the real estate front, the Vista View retirement community, the mainstay of Mack Realty’s client roster, has a new business manager who takes an instant dislike to Margo’s Aunt May. When the two strong-willed women inevitably clash, will Kate and her partners lose the lucrative account?

“Dirty Tricks” shines a light into the dark corners of today’s ultra-competitive publishing industry, including unethical ploys used by some misguided authors to gain readers’ attention, such as fraudulent claims of prize nominations and paid-for reviews. What makes this mystery unique, however, is the peek inside the two sides of the publishing industry: authors who want to be published and publishers who reject many manuscripts. Here’s a hint: good grammar and spelling count! Not only is this mystery a good read, it’s also educational.

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Funerals Can Be Murder,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

ONE OF US

By Tawni O’Dell

Danny Doyle, the boy that feared the mines growing up, is now Dr. Sheridan Doyle. A snappy dresser, residing in Philadelphia having made a name for himself as a psychologist, is now on his way back home. Sheridan’s grandfather, Tommy, is getting on in years, and Sheridan has come to visit him.

Lost Creek hasn’t changed all that much. The mines that have defined the town are still operating. The town’s history is mired in the legend of a group a miners that dared protest and ended up being hanged for their trouble.

When Sheridan arrives in Lost Creek, he discovers the body of man and is reunited with Rafe, a detective that took Sheridan under his wing when he was a child. While investigating the death, Sheridan slowly loses his big city persona—well, except for his clothing, which he was always fond of—and reverts back to being Danny Doyle.

Wow! This is one twisted serial killer thriller. A spooky mining town that is rumored to be haunted by the Irish miners who were publicly hanged and the sudden odd deaths that are more than unusual in such a small community. Danny begins to learn some old family secrets and boy, are they explosive. Danny’s voice isn’t the only one we are connected to. We also are given access to another first person perspective, but you will not know who this is until deeper into the novel. If you are like me, the wheels will start turning in your mind. The suspicion I had, had me in deep denial. How on earth could someone actually do all these terrible things? But deny all you want, the truth will still be there.

For Danny, a small amount of peace will come from the conclusion of the case, but he will be stinging from this one for a long time to come. If you like dark, twisted, thriller suspense novels you will not want to miss this one!

This one gets 4.5 stars

Reviewed by Julie Whiteley ■