India: A man lives with his constantly quarreling parents. He’s a dreamer, fantasizing about people with whom he can’t have a decent relationship and events that never quite go his way. Months after losing his job, he decides to write a story. Anguishing over every scene he writes about a land in the distant past ruled by a queen who is impregnated by a demon and dies. 3000 years later, in the same land, a visitor from a foreign country takes a tour with his friend with whom he has been corresponding. In these modern times, women train for the Army, talk of a demon still resonates fear, and archeologists have begun digging where maybe they shouldn’t be.
Okay, that’s the plot. That’s it. Parents and son argues about many topics. Son complains about everybody in his life. Son writes story. Not much here to get excited about. The plot of the ‘story’ was mildly interesting until I started reading it.
Main Character: no name, lives with his parents, thin frame, virgin, at the beginning is working at the same factory his where his dad worked
Mother: Mother of the main character, always yelling and criticizing, landlord
Father: Father of the main character, used to be a factory worker
Basically three characters and none of them is likeable. All this family does is argue and complain. The main character can’t find anything good about the people he meets or the places he visits. He has a miserable life. None of his dreams are pleasant. He gets bored with the ‘story’ he’s writing. He admits he has trouble writing the story after he’s written long chapters and then says the story is terrible. This didn’t get me excited about reading more of his project. His parents are terrible people with no likeable qualities. Even the characters who make cameos-bus passengers, restaurant patrons, most of whom don’t have names, don’t exhibit good personalities.
It is written almost as a script for a play would be written.
Other person: dialogue
Me: thoughts and dialogue
Not believable conversations. Most of the conversations are with the main character and his parents but they’re mostly arguments. They drag on too long and just aren’t how people converse with each other, even when arguing. Much of the ‘dialogue’ between the main character and others are held within the main character’s mind whether in his waking thoughts or in his dreams and I suppose in the dreams the conversations can go any way the main character wants them too, but still they’re difficult to follow and comprehend. In the ‘story’ two characters are being attacked by a monster yet they have a lengthy discourse on the conversation one of them had when he called in for assistance. This takes the reader away from any tension that may have existed. No distinctive voices because most characters are complaining.
Titles are named and sections are listed by date, time and location.
At the beginning, the Author’s Note advises against certain types of readers. It states only readers with BRAINS should read the book. Open minded readers. I found this a little off-putting to begin a book this way. Yes there is a plethora of profanity, much of it gratuitous and doesn’t add to the story. However, to open a book with this note before the opening chapter doesn’t take into account that not every book will be liked by every reader. The author denies responsibility if the reader is offended. I’m not sure of the message here. Some people might be offended. Some people might love it. If one enjoys the book, fine, but I don’t think any reader assumes an author sets out to offend on purpose. (Unless it is intentional, which would make it an entirely different type of book.) Anyway, the Author’s Note didn’t set well with me.
The book is written from a first person POV, and the script-type format continues with scene changes as ‘Cut to another scene’ (whatever/wherever that scene is). This is an interesting way to write, however, mistakes and errors abound in this book. Grammar, punctuation, misspelled words, missing words, sentences written incorrectly (i.e. ‘She pointed me out to a restaurant.’ No, she pointed a restaurant out to him.), unnecessary words (shouted loudly). Some of the sentences, internal dialogue, were difficult to follow, especially with ellipses that were over- and incorrectly used. Over use of exclamation points and capitalized words and sentences. Written in present tense but during the ‘story’ the tense switches, sometimes within the same sentence. Formatting problems-I suspect-with underlined text and extra spacing between lines.
The Author’s Note also explains that the italicized parts are dreams or inner thoughts depending on the scene, however, sometimes I found it difficult to stay focused during dialogue when there were so many lengthy inner thoughts.
Part of the problem is that the characters ramble on about various things and the author bounces from one topic to another with no chance for the reader to catch up. There are too long scenes discussing such topics as coconuts and railway tickets and well tubes that don’t seem to have a point other than to show the continued bickering and complaining by the family. I could not comprehend the relevance or purpose of some of these scenes (actually, most of them seemed meaningless). In the beginning, for instance, there are sections titled Blackmail. Well, I knew what the blackmail would be, but it was hardly touched upon and when the story moved on I felt cheated because the only purpose of the scene(s) was to have him lose his job. This continues throughout the story.
Another problem which threw me was that the story moves in time from the first part of October 2012 through most of November, then jumps to February of the next year where the man starts writing his ‘story’. Then it goes back to November for no apparent reason other than to show more long pointless scenes. And when we are back in November, the author jumps backwards and forwards in time which gets confusing. In November, the main characters speaks of continuing the story he’s writing but earlier it’s shown he doesn’t stat the writing project until February so there’s a continuity problem.
This is not a book or a story. This is a jumble of words/’scenes’ that don’t make sense all thrown together.
By Robert Pobi
Gavin Whitaker Corlie, horror novelist, is a widower who can’t seem to get over his wife’s death. Contemplating suicide, he decides to move out of the crazy city. Buying a house in upstate New York on the shore of Lake Caldasac, he settles in to get his life together. Within a few days he encounters Finn Horn, a teenage fishing enthusiast who is slowly dying of cancer. All is not serene in the community lost in time. There have been strange disappearances on the lake and the local sheriff is not a big fan of rich city slickers. With more people missing and dying, danger lurking from local law enforcement, and winter approaching, Corlie and Finn make plans to capture the monster in the lake.
Sound familiar? How many monster in the lake stories have there been? Scores. However, I haven’t read one in awhile and I haven’t ever read one quite like Mannheim Rex. There is so much more here and this is no cheap horror novel. Sure you have the obligatory scenes of the monster killing people. But this goes deeper (no pun intended) than the teen slasher and even the Jaws rip offs.
Gavin Corlie: 39, widower, writes horror stories, long silver streaked hair, brown eyes, has a tattoo up his arm and to his back, has a house in England but lives in New York, has an incredible memory for factoids, parents dead, contemplates suicide
Finnegan ‘Finn’ Cornelius Horn: 13, loves to fish, cancer destroyed his spine and left him wheelchair bound, dad is dead, thin frame but with upper body strength, shaggy black hair
Xavier Pope: sheriff, takes Benzedrine, big man, hates outsiders, green eyes, married but unfaithful
Jennifer Laurel: 56, doctor, head of pediatrics, pretty, short black hair, brown deep set eyes, not quite 5’2”, used to work in the Boston Shriners burn hospital, runs five miles every morning, pale skin, divorced
Vivid characters very well described and presented. Memorable. Pobi has a way of making nearly everything in the book a character. The house. The lake. The town. The cat. These are not insignificant objects. They’re an intricate part of the story in some way. There is also a nice progression in the revealing of facts regarding Gavin and his wife. At the beginning you understand that the wife is dead, but every time Gavin remembers or the circumstances around the death come up, there’s something new that brings more understanding to the relationship they had. Similarly, Pope steps down the despicable scope each time he’s seen.
Most of the men in the book use profanity in some fashion, however, in each person’s case the use fits the character. Finn sounds more adult than he is at times, but that’s his nature and I don’t see anything amiss with this. Conversations stay on track. There aren’t any long dialogues or lectures. What’s here is meant to be here.
There is a lot of profanity. A few chapters are headed by quotations. The writing is very descriptive which makes for very clear mental images. I can see the house Gavin lives in. I can envision the lake and the surrounding woods. This is very strong, very clean writing in that it stays on point. There isn’t a tendency to wander or insert a bunch of flashbacks to fill space. Pobi keeps this to a minimum and when he does I think it’s placed correctly.
I thoroughly enjoyed Pobi’s last book Bloodman (and he mentions that book in this story) and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Mannheim Rex. This is an author from whom other writers need to read to learn about the craft of writing. I’ve visited his website and see he has two more books yet to be published and I will wait, albeit impatiently, for them.
This is one of those books where the movie version, even if it stayed true, would lose quality because the words here are so wonderfully written. This one deserves the ranking of:
by Brian Freeman
Fourteen months have passed since the first Duluth teen disappeared. Now Rachel the second girl, has gone missing. Lieutenant Jonathan Stride and partner Maggie Bei are back on the case. This time, they have a plethora of suspects including an enamored teenage boy, his jealous girlfriend, and worst of all, Rachel’s mother and stepfather. Evidence points to murder but what really happened? Is Rachel alive or dead? Dealing with a new romance, Stride seeks to uncover the truth.
This is a more complicated plot than what I’ve given. There is so much history that would be unfair to reveal. The turbulent relationships never quite bubble away, but always seem to come back and haunt the characters. Freeman does a nice job of showing the emotional strife of several people. By doing this, he takes an average plot and makes it worth reading.
Jonathan Stride: 41, a little over six feet tall, Lieutenant in the Duluth Detective Bureau, smoker, dark brown eyes, weathered face, gray streaked black hair, drives a Ford Bronco, wears cowboy boots, wears the same clothes year after year, has a bullet scar on his right arm, lost his wife to cancer a year ago, dad was a seaman and died when Jon was 14
Jay ‘Bird’ Finch: black, bald, deep voice, host of a ‘shock’ television show in Minneapolis, 6’7”, former basketball player
Maggie Bei: senior sergeant in the Duluth Detective Bureau, 5′ tall, bowl cut black hair, pretty, almond shaped eyes, Chinese immigrant, attended U. of Minnesota, she and Stride are very close and share deep feelings but are not lovers
Kyle ‘K-2′ Kinnick: five foot tall, Deputy Chief and Stride’s boss, plays handball, cabbage leaf like ears, reedy voice, gray hair
Andrea Jantzik: short layered blonde hair, smoker, athletic build, chemistry eacher, blue eyes, pert face, divorced
Nancy Carver: part time counselor at the high school, tenured professor at U. of Minnesota, dislikes men, tiny but sturdily built, near 40, wears glasses, berry red hair, lesbian, brown eyes, has a Master’s and a Ph.D in Psychology
Archibald Gale: attorney, big man, booming voice, has a goatee, wears glasses
I think one of the interesting characters is the mother of the girl who disappeared at the beginning. She is Emily Stoner, on her second marriage and plagued by the horrible relationship with her daughter throughout the years since her first husband died. Rachel is presented as a spiteful, hateful child who blamed her mother for her dad’s death. Flashbacks upon incidents are shown in italics and it gives a different perspective than the normal fretting mother.
Otherwise, there are good distinctive characters and the story delves into the lives of the main ones but just enough that I wasn’t bored with so much information.
Distinctive voices. I liked Maggie’s sarcasm. You hear the cop and the attorney and the teens. No conversation goes to waste. At times when I thought the scene was unimportant, somebody would say something to bring it back to the main case.
Book separated by Parts. Some profanity but not an abundant amount. A couple of sex scenes. Solid writing. Freeman knows how to write a story. He keeps everybody and everything in line and doesn’t deviate too much from the main mystery. However, there is a lot of character development throughout. Given the chance, I definitely would buy more of this author’s work.
by Phillip DePoy
Trying to recover from a near death experience (which included being in a coma), Fever Devilin receives a strange visitor to his Blue Mountain, Georgia home: A woman claiming to be his wife and that he has a son. However, Fever has a habit of seeing things which don’t really exist. Assisted by his girlfriend, the town sheriff, and an enigmatic but likeable psychiatrist, Fever starts putting together the picture. All too soon, however, Fever’s life is in danger once more. He has to dig back into forgotten memories, dredge up the past, face some horrifying truths. But can he trust anybody? Even himself? Is the entire mystery one big con game?
I really can’t comment on the plot because this is not a plot-based book. The plot is secondary, although a really close secondary element. I enjoy the ‘trying to remember something from my past’ type stories because you never know where it will lead.
Fever Devilin: trained as a folkorist, recovering from a near death experience and coma, hallucinates at times, parents (now dead) were carnival performers, has a high IQ, morbid interest in ancient worlds, was a professor at a university, insomniac
Issie Raynerd: claims to be Fever’s wife, pretty, black hair
Skid Needle: Blue Mountain town sheriff
Lucinda Foxe; Fever’s fiance, rarely uses profanity, head nurse
Ceridwen Nelson: head of psychological studies at an institution, white hair, dark eyes, olive skin, soft features
This is a character driven book. These people are enigmatic, strange, quirky, humorous, and at times I just didn’t know if anybody, including the protagonist was real. Real in the sense that the whole thing is one big hallucination or dream. More about character below.
Good voices from everybody. A little hint of southern accent although I did tire of “you’uns”. Really? Does anybody really say that anymore? If so, fine. I just found it a little distracting.
First person form Fever’s POV. The entire book, including how the characters were presented and developed was one big surreal experience. I felt detached from the normal type atmospheres of most stories. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy it, I just was always trying to find a way into the light of normalcy. I kept wondering if it was a Dallas ‘dream’ sequence, or a bad drug trip. I didn’t trust anything to be ‘real’. Because of this, I was a little disappointed at the mystery’s solution. The climax was pretty typical and the wind down to the end was too long. I wanted a bit more of a shocker. I liked the mythology aspect and the very slight hint of the supernatural (there is nothing paranormal about this story, but I wondered at times). I think it wold behoove readers to check out previous Fever novels before this one. Not that this one won’t satisfy, but I think by reading previous stories, you’ll get a more complete picture of the man.
by L. Wiehl and April Henry
The trio of Cassidy (crime reporter), Nicole (FBI agent), and Allison (federal prosecutor), have been friends for awhile, helping each other with their specialized abilities to put away the bad guys. When one of their group is killed, the others bend the rules and interfere with the investigation. Almost immediately, an abusive ex boyfriend is arrested but at the funeral a mentally disturbed man relates a different set of eye witness clues that puts the spotlight on someone else. Ophelia, a private investigator is hired to assist. The initial investigation is that the murder was random, but when another death occurs, the women wonder if the murders have turned personal, with themselves as specific targets.
I haven’t read the previous Triple Threat novels and I wish I had before reading this one. I like the plot. It’s simple, with some expected and enjoyed twists.
Cassidy Shaw: 34, crime reporter for a Portland television station, graduated from Catlin Gabel (an elite private school), former cheerleader,
Nicole Hedges: black, FBI agent, graduated from Catlin Gabel, used to work at the Denver FBI field office, has a daughter, drives a Crown Victoria, had breast surgery
Allison Pierce: federal prosecutor, graduated from Catlin Gabel, captained the debate team in school, married, dad died when she was sixteen, wears a cross necklace and is religious, lost a child in a miscarriage the previous year, has a sister who lives with her
Rick McEwan: Cassidy former abusive boyfriend, cop, has a sister, takes high blood pressure medicine
Leif Larson: 6’2, muscled, Nic’s boyfriend, FBI agent, red-gold hair
Ophelia Moyer; private investigator, 24, wealthy enough that she doesn’t charge for her investigations, specializes in helping women escape abusive spouses and boyfriends, was abused herself as a child, has a unique personality unlike most people (is sensitive to loud noises, straightens silverware before eating, has no pictures on her walls, a bit of a ‘germaphobe’, eats the same lunch every day, etc.), owns three cats, came from Oregon
Very defined characters although I think author expected me to have read the previous novels to get more of each of the main characters’ personalities. I wasn’t disappointed in not having descriptions right away. I like Ophelia and hope she stays around for more stories.
Pretty good voices especially from Ophelia and some of the supporting cast.
A fast read. This story is laid out very logically and linearly. Any subplots are minor and only help to round out the characters. I did notice clusters of repeated words like ‘was.’ There aren’t any lengthy flashbacks and the story moves along very nicely. No real graphic details. No profanity.
By Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay
After dodging a serious gunshot injury, L.A. Homicide investigator and former monk Tenzing Norbu, turns in his badge to go private. The next day an ex wife of Ten’s former landlord, an ex musician named Zimmy, shows up and gives an enigmatic warning. The next day, she’s found dead. Ten calls Zimmy to find out he’s been harassed by an individual wanting to ‘help’ Zimmy collect past due royalties. Zimmy, however, is not the first and Ten has to make the connection between a hustler, a pig farm, and an enigmatic cult.
What a complex plot. There are all sorts of avenues here and I wanted to figure it out faster. This unfolds pretty well and did keep my interest.
Tenzing ‘Ten’ Norbu: 30, former monk, former Los Angeles detective in Robbery/Homicide, owns a cat, used to live in Paris with his mother, likes Sherlock Holmes novels, drives a 1965 Shelby Mustang and an old Toyota, became a private investigator after the LAPD, mother was an alcoholic, father was a Tibetan monk, avoids red meat
Mike Koenigs: 24, computer guru, likes to come up with new expressions, skinny, black curly hair and a Van Dyke beard, chalky complexion, drives an electric hybrid motorbike, was arrested for hacking as a teen, works as a security consultant
Barbara Maxey: 40s, thick blond hair with a little silver, tanned, divorced, former narcotics user, former cult member, drives a rusty Volkswagon Beetle
Bill Bohannon: Ten’s ex partner, married, has new twins, drives a minivan, has been a cop for almost twenty years, likes the Dodgers, was in the Army
Zimmy Backus: former musician and narcotics user, had been married to Maxey. Lives on an Oregon pear farm with new wife and child, smoking has rasped his voice, owns a dog, used to own Ten’s house
John D. Murphy: 77, western twangy voice, failed almond farmer, former cop, bad knee, two sons, one son died in the military, wife dead
Thomas Florio, Sr.: 70′s, compact, wealthy, wavy hair, has a son and a daughter
Lots of good characters here. Very good descriptions with just enough quirks to keep them from being droll. Distinctive personalities.
Good voices for everyone.
Written in first person from Ten’s POV. Profanity. A few punctuation gaffs. I did enjoy Ten’s reverting back to his monk training regimens, how he stayed focused and relaxed and acclimated technology into his peaceful home. This is also a different take on the cop-turned-PI in that Ten doesn’t jump right into the private eye business and actually has some difficulty getting started. Though he still uses his contacts from the police, he doesn’t rely too heavily on them and does use his zen abilities to fathom out problems. The cat is also a good side character and fits nicely with Ten. The story moves along steadily, not jumping too high or low. I kept wanting to urge the story along, to have a bit more action. This is a very good book for the first in a series. Look for The Second Rule of Ten.
by K.J. Larsen
All Cat DeLuca wants is to chase cheaters and avoid her crazy family. But when she and her assistant, Cleo, find Walter, Cleo’s louse of a husband, dead, and Cleo is suspected, Cat is on the case. She soon uncovers evidence that Walter was blackmailing a lot of people. So who killed him? The construction company owner? The fashion diva? Or is this murder related to a decade’s old death that could also have been murder? With a beagle and a gun toting assistant by her side, a hunky FBI boyfriend and equally hunky bodyguard on her side, Cat has nothing to worry about…except her mother’s constant worrying, a priest praying for her soul, and a pesky cheater who won’t let himself be photographed in delecto flagrente…and a murderer on the loose.
Nothing new here for a plot, but what fun this is. Humor abounds in this tale and I need to pick up Larsen’s first novel, Liar, Liar. However, you do not need to read the first one (but you should) to be introduced to and her crazy family and fabulous workmates.
Caterina ‘Cat’ DeLuca: Chicago private investigator. Has three brother-all cops. Father is a cop. Has one sister. Attended Catholic school. Divorced. Owns a beagle. Drives a Honda. Cousin is a prosecutor. Likes Dr Pepper flavored lip gloss
Cleo Jones: One of Cat’s former clients, works at Cat’s office, husband ran away with her money, dog and sister. Drives a Camry-fast. Dyed hair. Squawky voice except when she sings. Likes guns
Leo: has a tattoo of a lion on his right hand, blue eyes, short brown hair, cop
Ken Millani: owner of a construction firm, member of a neighborhood council, Catholic
Tino: Deli owner, round face, former covert operative, drives a bullet proof car
Chance Savino: FBI agent, Cat’s boyfriend, handsome, tall, cobalt blue eyes, drives a Toyota Highlander Hybrid, also owns a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
Jake Manovich: bookie, violent when his customers don’t pay, long blond hair, beer belly
Max: Tino’s friend, Cat’s former bodyguard, chiseled, muscular, Danish
Lots of fun quirky characters here. Everybody is a hoot.
Some good voices with Max calling Cat Kitty and Chance calling her DeLucky. Even the minor characters are great.
First person from Kat’s POV. A few instances of missing words and a couple of garbled sentences. The similarities between this group of characters and the ambiance of the story to Stephanie Plum are plenty. However, there are enough differences to keep you interested. I didn’t think there were too many laugh out loud moments, but I was constantly smiling throughout. Cat is a wonderful protagonist who worries about her weight, her mother, her age, and her appearance, all in a spunky humorous way. I want more of this character.
My ranking (despite the mistakes):
by Robert Bonelli
An American CIA agent and a Russian FSB agent are both murdered in Moscow. Michael Clark, an independent contractor for the CIA, is assigned to ferret out the truth. However, Clark also works for a multi-national consulting firm, Bricksen Grove. One of BR’s clients is Enerprov, owned by Andrei Chekhov, who was involved in the murder of the agents. However, an even bigger danger looms as both Russian and American intelligence have detected a possible major terrorist threat.
Andrei Chekhov: 48, owner of Enerprov, father who was founder of the company is dead, degree in geology from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, three sisters, married with three daughters,
James Harris: Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, married, two sons, family is in the oil business
Peter Jenkins: 63, CEO of Bricksen, Grove, a global consulting firm based out of New York, tall
Michael Clark: 56, 5’10″, 160 pounds, fit, wife and daughter killed by terrorists, served in the Army, served in Desert Storm, works security for Bricksen, Grove, also is an independent contractor for the CIA
David Capella: 60, Clark’s CIA handler, tall, average build, receding hairline, wears glasses
Anya Petrova: 25, works with the FSB (former KGB) as an analyst, father also worked with the FSB and was killed at the beginning of the book, speaks English, shoulder length black hair, petite frame, brown eyes, attractive
Rushad Umarov: 48, works for Chekhov, 6′, athletic build, veteran of Chechnyan wars, Muslim, wife and children and parents were killed in the wars
Pavel Inavanov: Senior Vice President and head of security for Enerprov, big man, was a major in the Soviet army
Some good characters both good guys and bad guys. Pretty good background information on them. I didn’t like Anya. For a daughter trying to find out about the murder of her father, she seemed weak.
No distinguishable voices. Conversations were stilted and not the way I expected some of the characters to speak. I realize that dialogue in books isn’t written in the manner in which normal everyday people speak but there has to be some ‘natural-ness’ to the dialogue. Part of the problem is there are very few contractions and the Data android-like speech is unnatural.
This was a tough read because of the plethora of problems. Right from the beginning there was sense jolting, major distractions with unnerving combinations of past and present tenses within paragraphs and within sentences where the usage was incorrect.This was constant throughout the book and made paragraph and sentence comprehension difficult. Grammar and punctuation problems. Missing words. Misspelled words. Incorrectly capitalized words. Extra spaces between sentences. Unnecessary and incorrectly used tag lines. Unnecessary words in sentences. Unnecessary sentences. One example was telling the reader a phone call ended at the end of a chapter. Not needed since the reader understood the call would end. Scene shifts within chapters without either an extra space between paragraphs or some other indication such as a line or asterisks. Partly because of the tense problems, there was a lot of ‘telling instead of showing.’ Some details which would have made the short scenes a bit more enjoyable were missing.
A bit of profanity. Action scenes, again, informed, instead of showed. There was a lot of passive voice which lessened the intensity. Since the plot was initiated by the murder of a Soviet FSB agent, it was not quite believable that the CIA didn’t have more information about a veteran Soviet agent to pass along to Michael. It’s also not believable that the FSB would be so buddy-buddy with Clarke who works with the CIA so quickly or with the CIA in general or that Clarke would tell the Russians what his job is for the CIA. I realize the threat in the book dealt with both the Russians and the Americans, but I just don’t see spy agencies working so openly with each other without at least a bit of suspicion. I can see two opposing agents working together but not agencies.
I also tired of the over-usage of the word ‘chatter’ when referring to intelligence data. This and other examples showed how the writing needed to be a lot tighter. I looked back at some other low ranked reviews in order to be fair to those and this one. With everything taken together, I can’t give this a higher ranking than:
by Wendy Corsi Staub
September 11, 2001 was a tragic date for many American, but the murders that occurred afterward were terrifying for Allison MacKenna. She barely survived the killer’s rage. Ten years later, MacKenna is married to a man who lost his first wife in one of the Towers on 9/11. She, Mack, and their three children have moved to a wealthy Westchester County housing development. They are dealing with Mack’s new promotion, which keeps him from his family more often, and with his insomnia. Soon, they will deal with a problem far worse. The man arrested a decade ago has died, and soon after, new murders occur, and the killer is using the signature of the original killer. When the deaths hit closer to home, Allison faces a terrifying situation…whether she can trust the man she married. With the new drugs he’s taking, he’s sleepwalking, but is he committing heinous acts without realizing it?
A good follow up plot to her first in this series, Nightwatcher. The killer has returned and terrorizing the main character. I’ve read similar plots before but Staub’s way of resurrecting the killer, though not new, is good.
Allison Taylor McKenna: 34, lives in Westchester, married, has three children. She and her husband have a BMW and a Lexus SUV. Father abandoned the family when she was nine. Mother died of an overdose. Grew up in Nebraska. Attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Has a degree in fashion. Former fashion editor for a magazine. Drinks diet iced tea. Has a half brother.
James ‘Mack’ McKenna: 44, graying hair, green eyes, suffers from insomnia. Married to Allison. Likes the New York Giants. Was in a fraternity in college. Has a married sister. Is vice president of television sales. His first wife died on 9/11. Parents dead. Was a Big Brother in his early twenties.
Zoe Jennings: Attractive, brunette, used to be pudgy. Knows Mack from years before. Has had several cosmetic surgeries. Married with two children. Stay-at-home mom.
A lot of reflection about the past from Allison and Mack. We see a lot of internal thoughts from most of the supporting cast. Many times these reflections or diversions into various thought interrupt the scene. I found myself wanting to know more about and read more scenes with the killer because at least with the killer, the scenes are tight.
Pretty distinctive voices. However, dialogue and conversations are interrupted by flashback and recollections of recent conversations.
Book is divided into Parts. Chapters are headed by location/date. Written in present tense, although some sentences aren’t quite written correctly, mixing past reflective with present. Lots of background information from both Allison and James. Lengthy chapters.
The interruption of the scenes with flashback are very jolting and I found myself wanting to skip ahead to get to the gist of the scene. If the flashbacks were important, I felt they should have been put in their proper place. Staub does keep you guessing and even adds a surprising revelation at the very end to set up for the next book.
by Phyllis Smallman
The year is 1994. Singer Brown wanders the country in her old van, singing on street corners for money to survive. As the story opens, we find Singer has some business to clear up with the John Vibald, leader of the band to which she once belonged. However, after negotiating a treacherous mountain road on an island off the coast of Vancouver, she discovers John has been murdered. And there are no lack of suspects: His much younger wife, the wife’s lawyer lover, other band members who are living on the island and hoping for a comeback, or is it someone connected to a land development deal John was holding up? Slowly, the truth is revealed not only to Singer, but to the local police. Of course, that only leaves Singer in that much more danger.
A murder mystery set in on an island off Canada. Interesting. A homeless singing not-an-investigator investigator. Different. The unique character of Singer first attracted me to the book. I wasn’t too sure about the unraveling of the plot, but it works to some extent.
Singer Brown: Not her real name, 46, homeless, drives and lives in a yellow 1984 Dodge Caravan, plays a guitar and sings to make money, smokes, graying hair past shoulder length,
Lauren Vibald: 28, long, sculpted face, hazel eyes black brows, long mahogany colored hair, husband was murdered, owns a poodle, adopted, drives a black Yukon, both parents were medical people
Aaron ‘Pinky’ Pye: band member with Lauren’s husband, constantly tardy, sparse gray hair, flushed face, pear shaped build, wife is an alcoholic, has a son
Steven David: early fifties, blue eyes, also known as Stevie Dee, played drums and did vocals for the band, violent temper,helps with local theater,
Chris Ruston: mid thirties, tan, blond, good looking but overweight, lawyer, had an affair with Lauren, sails, golfs, father was a lawyer
Duncan: Corporal for the RCMP, 5’8”, ice blue eyes, short curly blonde hair
Louis Wilmot: late forties, slim, blue eyes, hair graying at the temples, Sergeant for the RCMP, was with the Major Crimes unit in Vancouver, on the force for 23 years,
Lauren was a character I couldn’t get a hold on. One minutes she’s tough, the next she’s wishy-washy, the next she’s nonchalant. I can’t chalk it all up to shock at her husband’s death. Although I liked Singer, I wanted more punch from her. A bit of depth is provided when I learn about why she’s on the island. Actually, I liked the two investigating officers best.
Pretty good. Again, Lauren’s dialogue was hard to comprehend in the terms of any given situation. Not that I couldn’t understand her words, but the reason for her attitude and personality shift was difficult. At times she sounded like Singer and I wanted her to keep her own voice. The cops have some good back and forth play and even though Wilmot wants to be back on the mainland, he is dedicated to his job.
Relatively short chapters. Some profanity. I liked the cliffhangers at the end of some of the chapters. I guess I wanted more from Singer. It’s a Singer Brown mystery, but the cops seem to play a bigger role in solving the crime. Singer comes up with some good deductions and suggestions, but I wanted to see her featured more. At the beginning, there was a lot of build up with no explanation. That bothered me at first because the book jumps right in to this crazy mountain scene, almost like it’s the middle of the book. Upon reflection, it was okay because Smallman teases with the truth through a lot of the book. Some good descriptions of the setting brought me into the scenes. Although it’s been done countless times, I don’t mind the Nero-Wolfe-bringing-the-suspects-together-in-one-room type of climax. Singer is a cool character with the potential to really shine in future novels.
Phyllis Smallman’s first novel, Margarita Nights, won the inaugural Unhanged Author award from the Crime Writers of Canada. Her work has appeared in both Spinetingler Magazine and Omni Mystery Magazine and she has received two awards for her short stories. The Florida Writer’s Association shortlisted Champagne for Buzzards as the best Florida book for 2012. Long Gone Man is her 6th book.