By Charles Winstanley




Terrorists poison Manchester, England’s water supply and threaten worse if their demands aren’t met. Special Branch officer David Rockbourne teams with MI5 agent Laura McAllister to stop them. In their quest, they must deal with a stubborn Home Office Minister and a developing romance.

Thrillers usually make for a good story. Terrorists poisoning the water sounds good. Agents on the go trying to stop them are the ones to cheer for.

However, as mentioned below, this is the basic plot with hardly any sidelines, scant details about bad guys their background, and quick chapters.


Gary Charles Potter: 50, thinning hair, a bit overweight, married with daughters, Minister of State for the Environment

David Rockbourne: 42, 6’2”, police officer in the Special Branch, in the middle of a divorce, dark hair, parents dead, attended Cambridge, was in the intelligence corps, scar on forehead

Laura McAllister: 32, MI5 agent, long brown hair, has a brother, attended Queens University, parents dead, has a degree in mathematics,

Yuri Datsik: has a daughter, gray hair, weathered skin, blue eyes, former Speznaz Lt. Colonel,

Chris Stirling: 40, married with daughter, works for Clean Flow PLC, attended Cambridge, author, PH.d

Richard Richardson: England’s PM

Characters are pretty basic. The main players each have a short intro chapter with a limited dossier version of physical, employment, and academic details.


In the file that I read, there was no comma before many of the tag lines. At least in one instance there is a single quote to dialogue while most are double. I don’t care which but it needs to be consistent. Conversations didn’t wander and explanations were almost too succinct. Part of my problem, explained below, is that I didn’t see the emotional reaction to the dialogue. I heard Potter’s frustration and dismissal of what authorities were telling him, but that was about it.

No real voices come through other than Potter’s. I certainly didn’t hear the Russian voices.

The interrogation between the good guys and one of the terrorists was not believable, especially in light of the crisis. Too bland. Hardly any emotion shown.


Titled chapters. Short chapters. A couple bits of missing, incorrect, and misplaced punctuation. Some repetitious words or phrasing close together. For instance the terrorist’s emails are unnecessarily repeated.

Okay, let me try to explain my biggest problem with the story. First, let me say, that, as mentioned above, it’s a good plot. Oft seen thriller, yes, but still good. However, the writing style is basic. Chapters are short and therefore, do not go into too much depth or detail. It’s basic information about character, scene. Emotional and action-oriented depth are lacking. I didn’t feel close to the story. Sentences were basic: (not an actual example, but close enough) Yes, he knew the danger was near. However, he was attracted by her beautiful eyes.

The romance was pat, expected, not enough resistance or tension. Both Laura and David, conveniently, had just gotten out of troubled relationships and too quickly felt attraction for one another.

What’s not quite believable is how calm and casual the characters who are in London remain or seem to act. Some are ‘concerned’ but it’s more of a frustrated discussion type of attitude. Not to play spoiler but approaching the half way point in the story, the plot would have seen riots and chaos throughout the city and elsewhere. At least that would seem the logical outcome of events. But there’s nothing. No showing how the population reacts.

Other scenes aren’t believable. In one, the good guys know that one terrorist is going to fire off a missile with nerve gas but there are several targets. Immediately, all top government officials would have been notified and moved to safety, (some were) but the royal family isn’t swept up until after the attack. Some

With only a bit more than 47,000 words, this is novella territory, which is fine if that’s what the author wanted. However, this could have been much longer story with more punch. I debated between two ranks and although there were no misspelled words I noticed, the story became less believable as it went along.

My Rank:

Yellow Belt


Lunar Rampage

Lunar Rampage

by Samantha Cross

Samantha Cross


Cora Nash is vacationing with her grandmother in woodsy upstate Michigan. Soon after her arrival she hears animal noises outside the cabin. Then a tree-hugger disappears and lumberjacks are attacked. What chased Cora through the woods one night? A bear? A wolf? Something bigger and deadlier? Hmm? Could it be a…you-know-what that howls at the full moon? Hmm?

Ah yes, another werewolf story. Oops, did I leak a spoiler? Lol. So, here’s my rule on stories with vamps/zombies/werewolves: I have read enough of them that they have to be something different or unusual for me to accept them. So, what does that tell you about this one? Yes, different. A light-hearted and amusing little tale that, at times brings to mind a certain Grimm tale. I mean, look at the characters below. A young woman, a grandmother, and a hunter. Duh! Lol.


Cora Nash: 26, photographer, chestnut colored hair, blue eyes, vegetarian, drives a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, can play the flute and clarinet

Wendy Nash: Cora’s grandmother, puffy short light blue hair, has memory problems

Priscilla: 28, store clerk, dresses Goth

Henry: overweight, works in the grocery store

Max: shoulder length brown hair, hunter, drives a pickup

Joe: nicknamed Hippie Joe, brown hair, nature lover

Owen: blue eyes, dark hair, has a sister, parents dead

Jason Wilson: deputy, dark hair, dark eyes, married

Interesting cast. A variety of personalities, all with just a bit of…strangeness. Not totally, just a layer here and there. Which is not bad. It definitely raised an eyebrow because while I could see a store cashier and a hunter and maybe even an environmentalist, the way they acted was just a bit…off, as mentioned below in the dialogue. Again, this is not to say the character styles didn’t work, but they were different.


Some unnecessary tag lines with ‘ly’ adverbs. A lot of the dialogue from every characters was a bit…off. Not that it wasn’t believable, but just…off. Not completely ridiculous for the characters, just…you know. The conversations didn’t proceed like I would have expected from the character types. A lot of cynicism and sarcasm, one liners, especially from Cora but others, too. Molly’s and Priscilla’s voices came through pretty well.

One tag line mistake. A sentence was tagged by the incorrect person.


First person from Nash’s POV. Profanity.

At the beginning, Cora mentions a store clerk’s name is Priscilla, but mentions it before she is told.

Almost a third of the book goes by with little tension. Sure, Cora hears things, but some real meat doesn’t happen for a couple days.

When action does happen, it’s tense. The ending is…well, not so amusing and light-hearted anymore. It’s fast, fierce, and frenetic.

This is a fine read with some good characters, good back and forth dialogue, some romance, and something a little different from the usual wolfie type story.

My Rank:

Purple Belt


Sade Evans

Sade Evans Book Cover

by Tonne Odom



Sade Evans is a teenager with an abusive father and a despicable stepmother. Some classmates hate her. So, she decides to kill those who are against her. All of them. Thus, her life spirals out of control with events playing out that cause her pain…and further her killing spree.

I think the plot is okay, but the way it all played out, it became a mish-mash of stuff. A bit of paranormal or psychological insanity, a bit of religion, a bit of sex, and a whole lot of murder. There were too many things wrong with this to make it enjoyable.


Sade Evans: black, smokes, hazel eyes, attractive, long dark hair, 5’7”, wealthy, father is an attorney, mother dead, drives a red Lamborghini,

Vita: black, Sade’s stepmother, 5’4”, dark curly hair

Tia Cox: black, Sade’s friend, smokes

Shawn Johnson; black, plays football, parents own a restaurant

The problem with Sade is that the narrator doesn’t ever ‘go close’. The reader is told what she feels instead of shown. I don’t feel her pain at being beaten (or the pleasure in her having sex). I don’t see her anger or depression. Most of the others are surface characters. Sade drives a very expensive car which doesn’t make sense that her father would either buy one for her or allow her to have one with the way he hates her so much.

Some of the characters aren’t believable in their actions. Tia goes off on a little girl at a funeral and Sade’s grandmother, who surely must have overheard the exchange, doesn’t reprimand her. The grandmother does in a later scene.

Continuity error: Most of the book one of the detectives is named Simms, but in other scenes, he’s named Simmons. The cops certainly are not believable in their roles.


The author tries to capture the ‘black street voice’ and does okay, but sometimes it’s a little much. Many of the characters sound alike, no distinctive voices. The author has a white cop sounding black. The cops themselves don’t speak like actual cops. “We have to ask this last question. We can’t get fired now.” No cop says that.

The dialogue just isn’t natural. The dialogue during the sex scenes sounds like something from a cheap porno.


Chapters are titled.

The writing is very loose. A lot of extraneous words: They lived on top of a hill in one of the most gigantic mansions that anyone would ever want to see with their very own eyes. Another example: She opened up the door. ‘Up’ is not needed. A third example: The reason that it was her favorite necklace is because of the fact that her late grandfather had it custom made for her when she was ten-years-old. ‘Because of the fact’ is not needed.

One word used way too much is ‘that’. This is a word that needs to be pruned from the manuscript unless absolutely needed.

These are extra filler words that unnecessarily lengthen the book. These kinds of sentences are throughout along with repetitious words. I knew this was going to be a difficult read from page ten.

Too much unnecessary profanity.

Most of this book was written very poorly. I had to struggle throughout to work my brain around the meaning of the sentences. Once I did, I had to shake my head at how the sentence was formed, the word order, and how I shouldn’t have had to work so hard at reading.

Misspelled words including: The beautiful woman that stood at five-eleven was a breathtaking site. Not unless this woman was a building or a scenic landscape. In two sentences, Sade has only one breast. (She does have two, but the s is missing both times.)

Graphic sexual scenes.

Not believable scene: Sade lies to her grandmother about being raped and beaten and the grandmother tells her to go to bed, that they’ll go to the police in the morning. Uh, no. They would first go to the hospital-right away-and then contact the police. Grandma doesn’t even tend to the girl’s injuries. Then the following morning they don’t go to the police. Grandma goes to work and Sade goes to school. The subject of the rape doesn’t come up until days later. Huh?

Not believable scene: The school kids all talk about the accident of two of their classmates which made the news but say nothing about her house burning down and her parents dead inside? That didn’t make the news?

Not believable scene: Where detectives interview Sade. Cops don’t act like the two in this book. They a would have known that Sade’s parents had been murdered before the fire unless the fire destroyed all evidence which is unlikely. They would have questioned Sade earlier than they did and not just because relatives sent them.

Not believable scenes: Any of the scenes where Sade sees and speaks to the dead. I comprehend the idea behind them, but they’re so over-the-top, they become almost silly.

This entire book is a mess with countless errors and weak writing.

My Rank:

White Belt


When A Drone Strikes


By Alex Castillo


Coping with the effects of a tragic mission for the CIA, Alexia Castillo takes a job with a national forest in Utah. There, she is partnered with her ex boyfriend from high school, Cody Grant. Cody is also suffering PTSD after a mission in Afghanistan. While both are trying to put their lives back together, and explore the possibility of further romance, Castillo discovers the corpse of an Indian youth. What’s the mystery all about? Precious stones? Or something much worse?

Interesting plot with some possibility. A story of what happens after a dangerous mission with a little mystery thrown in.


Alexia Castillo: ex-CIA, aka Annabella de la Cruz, father died on 9/11, owns a Glock. .44, brown hair, mother dead, works as a geologist for a National Forest, suffers from PTSD

Cody Grant: ex-Army, Alex’s ex boyfriend, tall, dark haired, blue eyes, chiseled face, owns a Toyota Tacoma, works with Alexia, battle scars, suffers from PTSD

Faisal Al Saleem: green eyes, shoulder length black hair, works for the CIA, fluent in several Middle Eastern languages, majored in criminology

Farzan Abdul Ghazel: terrorist, thick curly hair, has had plastic surgery, owns precious jewel mines

Kandy Sweat: Alexia’s boss, owns an F-350, hunter, wears glasses

Gregory ‘Ham’ Hamilton: wears glasses, thin, graduated Columbia with a Ph.d in Geology, owns a black Chevy truck

Except for Alexia, I had a mental picture of the rest of the cast. Alexia didn’t have too much description. I thought the characters worked well together. I don’t have a specific reason or can point to something missing, but I just didn’t get a ‘closeness’ to Alexia. Not for lack of trying, either, as there were some fine aspects about her and her history.


Most of the dialogue where the sentence should end in a comma before the tag line end in a period. Some of the internal dialogue from Alexia is too long and not the normal way a person thinks. Her thoughts could be her as the narrator without the italics designating internal dialogue. Some of the dialogue is unnatural, not how people speak. In the lengthy conversation between Cody and an Indian chief, there are a lot of repetitious words.


Chapters are headed by featured character (most of them are Alex) and date and location. Most chapters are first person POV. Present tense. A couple misspelled words. A few too many ‘ly’ adverbs. No profanity.

Throughout the book are flashbacks to the deadly missions both Cody and Alexia were involved with. These work well sprinkled here and there.

I have to go back to the italicized thoughts from Alexia as they are so prevalent. I think these could have been tighter and many weren’t thoughts people have. What I mean is, people don’t think in the lengthy sentences that are written here. Some work, others clearly don’t. Because of this I was a bit jolted when they occurred because, as mentioned above, much of the internalization could have been written as Alexia the narrator.

The murder gets shoved to the back burner for much of the story and is mentioned occasionally. I thought the intrigue with the bad guys would have played a bigger part.

Still, a fairly decent story.

My Rank:

Camouflage Belt


Time’s Up


By Janey Mack



When Maisie McGrane, who longs to be a Chicago cop like some of her older brothers, is instead expelled from the police academy, she reluctantly takes a job in the Traffic Enforcement Bureau – as a meter maid. Soon, however, she is embroiled in not only two murders (gathering clues in the hope that by solving them she’ll be reinstated at the academy), she has to deal with two feisty supervisors, two egoist patrols officers, family problems, a couple of attractive beaus, and tussles with the mayor. Plus, don’t forget a killer is targeting her.

What a delightful little mystery. There is a lot of story, a well laid out plot, rich characters, and some good humor.


Maisie McGrane: 24, 5’7”, auburn hair with blonde and brown highlights, expelled from the police academy (at the beginning of the book), dad is a cop, has five older brothers (cops and lawyers), stepmom is a lawyer, drives a Honda Accord, has a criminal justice degree

Hank Bannon: 31, wealthy, ex Army Ranger, works in a gym, owns a Mercedes SUV and a 1969 Dodge Coronet (Yes!), gray eyes

Ernesto Padilla: caramel skin, tattooed, paramedic, smokes, drives a pickup

Jennifer Lince: works in traffic enforcement, white blonde

Leticia Jackson: black, 4’11”, works in traffic enforcement, 180 pounds

Leticia and another meter maid, Eunice, are wonderful characters. The author does an excellent job of using everybody and giving everybody time in the spotlight. My only concern was Hank in that he’s more enigmatic than I would have liked. I thought he would be ‘partnering’ with Maisie but although he’s there, for the most part, when she needs him, he wasn’t as actively involved in the mystery as I thought he might be. There are some characters that, though not over-the-top, do peek above the rim. But they only add to the fun.


Good voices. Leticia, Eunice, some of the Irish family. Even the minor characters, because of the descriptions sound like I would have expected. Some good exchanges between characters. Just the right amount of cynicism and humor and seriousness.


First person from Masie’s POV. Profanity.

My one concern is that the murders sort of get pushed to the back burner while much of the book deals with Maisie’s misadventures that just seem to worsen (in an oh-no-what-now kind of way that adds more humor to the book) and I found myself saying, “But wait, what about the dead guys?” As I mentioned, there is a lot of story, with angles and facets and trying to include everyone. So, after finishing it, I was still concerned about the lack of complete focus on the murders because, in a roundabout way, those are just part of the mix and do connect up to several other big pictures (and little picture) items.

I think this author did a fine job of keeping everything organized, not losing touch with minor parts of the story, and though she left open some relationship questions (who does Maisie end up with; what happens with between Cash and Jenny, Ernesto and Leticia, Dacien and Bliss; Maisie’s problems with her dad) that’s okay, because it all fodder for the next book.

I enjoy these types of stories, a little action, a little humor, a little more humor, a little mystery and a lot of fun.

Now, as to rank. I thought the moving away from the murder should reduce it at least to Blue. However, I have to take into consideration the above mentioned aspects of the characters and how they all get time to be special and nobody is left dangling to where I didn’t care about them or they were unimportant. Also I have to look at the overall writing style, and to repeat, the author kept everything together and things that needed to be tied up were, and there were things left open for future stories.

So, with the amount of effort the author obviously put into making as fine a story as possible, I’m going to bump this to:

Brown Belt


Death And A Cup Of Tea


Edited by Jess Faraday


Eight stories involving mysteries and death and tea. (Pretty obvious by the title, eh? lol) Some are cozy, some aren’t. Set in the past and the future. From a misfiled book to a stolen mouse to death by mechanical spider, there’s a variety of mysteries for everyone.

Some stories don’t deal with death (i.e. the misfiled book, a stolen mouse, a recovered Romanov egg.) I found most of the plots pretty good. The tea group story reminded me of a plot by Sayers. The very short story, as mentioned below, was basically an explanation for something that happened before the story started.


Edith Chauvaune Jones: medical examiner, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, played basketball at Penn

Beatrice Winser: librarian

Darcy McKay: slender, blonde, amateur P.I., attends University of Illinois-Chicago

Sofia Goodreck: private investigator, blind

Anne Holcomb: works in a psychological lab

Audrey Louise Plotz: appraiser, gemologist

Claire Leighton: gardener, drives a Mini Cooper, middle aged, fake psychic

Short stories mean quick hits on characters. Not much description on some of them. In fact in the tea group story I didn’t see a name for the main character telling the story. But most of the characters, and the supporting cast, were pretty good and likeable.


Pretty good voices throughout. Some come through very well – the blind detective, the target of the tea group, Winser.


Some profanity. I found some of the stories confusing. One very short story didn’t really involved a ‘mystery’ per se, but was the ending to what could have been a longer story. This one was the explanation at the end of a long mystery. In the final story, POV jumps and although I might have accepted a shift from Claire to the cop, when the narrator takes over in Claire’s memories, the narrator jumps to the POV of a third party, something Claire wouldn’t know about.

For an anthology promoting tea, the beverage plays a major role in only one story. In others, it’s a token mention. In the first story, it’s a quick mention and the story centers more on basketball than it does on the death.

There was a bit of tension in the blind detective story which was good.

I found no grammar/spelling/punctuation mistakes.

There’s something here for different tastes, though, and despite the problems, most were enjoyable.

My Rank:

Green Belt


Stage Business


By Gerry Fostaty



Michael Dion is just a Toronto actor in love with another member of the cast of a play in which he has but a supporting role. However, he is destined for a different part when his attractive co-worker, Amanda, asks him for assistance in finding a missing teenager, son of pair of friends. Soon, Dion is in deep with drug dealers and rescue operations. The problem with this bit of acting, if he bombs, he may not live to regret it.

Actors as detectives. Okay, sounded pretty good at first but it started livening up when other members of the play became involved. This is different from other mysteries where ‘the average Joe with a mundane job becomes a private investigator’.


Michael Dion: early 30s, actor, owns a cat, divorced

Amanda Clarke: actress, smoky voice, steel grey eyes

Elizabeth ‘Bid’ Stackhouse: 26, stage manager, wears glasses, freckles, short brown hair, compact frame, former Army

David Pound: play director, tall, large build

Nigel Holmes: early 30s, dark hair and eyes, British, physically fit, smokes

Cal: college student, works a doorman at raves, bodybuilder, large frame, father worked on city road construction

Megan: early 20s, tattooed

Karen Eaton: slim, fit, blonde, married with son, drives a black Murano, husband is in Parliament

A nice, uh, cast of characters. Lol. Each have a particular, uh, role, which fits in nicely with the mystery. If ‘the average Joe’ can incorporate any unique qualities or specializations into the story to help solve the case, that makes it all the better. The characters in this book use, obviously, their acting abilities when dealing the bad guys.

Not too much description of Dion and Amanda so I didn’t quite get a mental picture of either. I did enjoy Nigel and Elizabeth in the, uh, supporting roles. Lol. I wasn’t too sure about Karen. Maybe she didn’t come off as a strong characters as I would have thought she would. Her description fit a politician’s socialite wife but other than her being appropriately worried over her son, I just didn’t think she fit.


Nigel’s British-ness comes through and Elizabeth’s directorial type voice.


First person from Dion’s POV. Some profanity. Good tension. A bit drawn out when the scenes were on the play rehearsal and performance and A bit at the end. However, some good surprises and the ending sets up for a sequel.

Darn good story.

My Rank:

Purple Belt


Willing Servants

Ebook Cover for Willing Servants

By Eric Turowski

Eric author Photo


How can a dead serial killer from ten years ago returned to haunt Mara Singleton, a ghost hunter? The detective who solved the decade old case thinks it’s a demon. How can a dead serial kidnapper of children return to torment Mara’s psychic father? His psychic associates are there to help. What is haunting a San Francisco area house owned by a couple of Mara’s friends? Mara and her investigative team are on the case.

Enter the paranormal world and be prepared to be scared. There is plenty of story here and enough side stories to keep me interested. I have to to steal the line from the Chiller channel – scary good.


Mara Singleton: paranormal investigator, owns PsiCom, psychic, drives a Toyota, graduated San Francisco State, former insurance investigator, author

Everett Singleton: Mara’s father, divorced, uses a cane, black hair white at the temples, tall, psychic, former stock broker

Sam Bradford: rank of Lieutenant, divorced, trying to quit smoking

Mike Halloway: overweight, owns a contracting firm, owns a cat

Bridgett Halloway: Mike’s wife, pregnant, gold-brown eyes, works in IT

Ben Fredericks: Mara’s boyfriend, attended San Francisco State, likes to cycle, hike and rock climb, sells insurance

Arthur: 6’5”, thin, geomancer

Delores ‘Dee-Dee’ Delacroix: bird like, upper 70s, psychometrist

Holly Owen: Reverend, wavy black hair, sharp nose, CPA

More characters than I thought. Not that this is bad at times, but the supporting roles weren’t as strong as I would have liked. This is due to the three stories going on so something has to suffer. This is disappointing because I liked the supporting cast and wanted more from them.


Some instances of periods where there should be commas and vice-verse. Some lectures but not too bad. Voices come through relatively well. An aged priest and some of the associates of Everett and Mara are pretty distinctive.


Book is separated into Parts. Some chapters are headed by date. Profanity.

There are many instances of ‘ing’ action words following actions. This is fine sometimes, but sometimes it doesn’t work. What works-and when it does, I think it should be used sparingly-is when the first action assists the second action. i.e. – He pushed her, knocking her back against the wall. Okay, this could work although I might have rewritten the sentence to dispense with the ‘ing’ word. The second action is happening at the same time, or nearly so, as the first action. The above example isn’t a sentence from the story, however, this one is: Jerry reached in, pulling out a long cylindrical case. In this case, I don’t think it works because one can’t reach in and pull out at the same time. Jerry reached in and pulled out a… works better. It may be minor, but I saw several instances where sentences could have been rewritten to work or sound better. The ‘ing’ words denote an action happening at the time and many times I found in this story, that sentences could have been tighter had they been written to eliminate the ‘ing’ word.

Otherwise the scare factor was pretty good. The author did a nice job of bouncing from one story to the next. The action was tight. I was a bit confused at the point where Mara was overwhelmed by the demon and only because the next day, but the explanation is fine…and eerie.

And get ready for a wild and wicked ending.

To be fair, with the errors, I should give this a green. However, the ‘like’ factor kicked in and I enjoy a scary story that shows me something different or presents the horror in a fresh way. This one does, so, with grudging reluctance, I’ll bump up the rank, with a caution that next time, no more Mr. Nice Guy. Lol.

My Rank:

Purple Belt


Blood On Hampton Beach

Blood on Hampton Beach

By Jed Power



1993. New Hampshire. Hampton Beach in June is filling up with tourists, snowbirds returning home, and murder. Bartender Dan Marlowe, jogging on the beach one morning discovers the corpse of a powerful real estate agent. Almost immediately, one pesky detective thinks Dan is the culprit. To clear his name, Dan, with help from his coworkers, begins to look into possible suspects – a radio talk show host, the dead woman’s brother, a local businessman wanting to make a huge profit. And do a couple of lowlife hustlers and their bad-news associates have anything to do with the case?

Ah, the oft seen guy in trouble with the law turned investigator. This is a decent plot with the usual cast of suspects.


Dan Marlowe: bartender, suffers from anxiety, ex drug user, owns a shotgun and a .38, former bar/restaurant owner, drives an ’86 green Chevette, divorced with children, allergic to cats

Richard Gant: Lieutenant in the Hampton police department, iron gray hair

Steve Moore: with the police department, buzz cut, married and has an adopted son

Michael “Shamrock” Kelly: dishwasher, smokes

Morris Kruel: short brown hair, thin neck

Henry Fuller: white hair, blue eyes

Arite “Tiny Bastards” Neal: radio talk show host, drives a Cadillac, dyed thinning black hair, overweight, pasty complexion, married with children

Dianne Dennison: Dan’s boss and girlfriend, long black hair

Eddie Hoar: short, thin pockmarked face, oily black hairy, hustler, drives a Cadillac

George Ransom: motel owner, bald, big frame, 40s

A lot of expected characters. Just tidbits of info for each, just enough for the reader to get a taste of them without drowning in background information.


There’s a minor attempt to sound local. It’s difficult to stay consistent unless seen often enough. Kelly’s voice, Irish, of course, comes through the best. Conversations don’t wander or contain too much extraneous material.


First person from Dan’s POV. Relatively short chapters. Some profanity.

A few times, just enough to be noticeable but not enough to be irritating, several sentences in a paragraph started with the same word, usually ‘he’ or ‘I’.

Some good similes sprinkled throughout. I don’t know if it was intentional but there is a little bit of a noir feeling to this story. Not much, just a touch.

Good tight writing, maybe a few extraneous words here and there and only one period missing that I found.

Pretty decent story. Third in the series.

I considered Green Belt, but, what the hec, I’m in a good mood (lol) and enjoyed the book.

My Rank:

Purple Belt


Wounded Animals

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00015]

By Jim Heskett



Tucker Candle, software tech, weeks away from unemployment. Married with a pregnant wife. One night an enigmatic stranger gives him a warning to refuse an assignment from his boss. When Candle ignores the warning, he returns home to find his wife missing and a dead man in his bathroom. And his life is only going to get worse – strangers attack him, another corpse shows up, and he can’t trust the cops.

Okay, this is a weird one. Not your normal murder mystery. This plot is unusual in the sense it’s not something seen in countless other books. There’s a bit of mystery, sure, but a bit of supernatural, a bit of surreal.


Tucker Candle: married, works at Intellicraft, Mom dead, knows martial arts

Kareem: short brown hair, dark skin, thin mustache

Alison Roche: Tucker’s boss

Wyatt Green: Chief Operating Officer for Intellicraft, broad shouldered, married with children, baseball fan

Some physical description. I didn’t get a picture of Candle. Several characters come and go and I started wondering about each new one – can this person be trusted? Is this person part of the overall plot? This is not a bad thing. A good mystery should have the reader wonder about everybody from the bellhop to the CEO.


Not too bad. Some voices come through.


First person from Candle’s POV. Some profanity.

Some good action and tension. This is the first of a trilogy so-if I can be forgiven a bit of a spoiler (or a non-spoiler), don’t expect everything to be wrapped up at the end. Jimmy’s got some ‘splainin to do. This first book will leave a lot of questions unanswered, but that’s okay, because it will leave you wanting the second part.

My Rank:

Green Belt



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