By Janice Foster
Julia Anderson has suffered paranoia for years. She’s sure that someone is trying to kill her. Her main suspect is her fiance, Trinstan. Julia believes Trinstan is a serial killer who has been terrorizing the area of late.
Meanwhile, Casey Donovan is haunted by a heinous act he committed 25 years ago. He’s worried someone might discover the object he buried out in the woods.
Okay, I don’t mind suspense stories. This is nothing new. A girl believes her beau is a killer. Pretty basic, and I think the story reflects that basic-ness (if I am allowed to create a word here).
Casey Donovan: married with child (at the beginning of book)
Serena Donovan: 25, Casey’s daughter, Jake’s girlfriend, short red hair, tall slim, dark eyes,
Julia Anderson: 29, drives a red Jaguar F-Type, mother dead, long black hair with auburn highlights, oval face, blue eyes,
Trinston Tanner: Julia’s fiance, 6′, handsome, green eyes, short black hair, drives a Ferrari, has a brother
Jake Coltan: Julia’s brother, new attorney
The last names of some characters aren’t revealed or aren’t mentioned until later in the story. Another problem is there are no details about Trinston other than he has some family (uncle, aunt, grandfather). No employment details for him or Casey or Serena or Julia. There is a lot of surface stuff here. No real history explained about Julia’s paranoia, how she’s coped, etc.
Some conversations have two tag lines or two sets of dialogue with two different tag lines: “Casey,” she called, “you’re scaring me,” she exclaimed. Two tag lines aren’t needed.
Speaking of tag lines, there are too many tags other than ‘said’. ‘Said’ is fine for most instances. Too much repetition in the other tags. There are also pieces of sentences used as tag lines that can’t be.
Way too many adverbs in conversations and elsewhere and too many repetitive adverbs after tag lines. ‘Emotionally’, ‘determinedly’, ‘furiously’, ‘hysterically’, etc.
The dialogue characters have when nobody else is around is not only unrealistic, it’s irritating. The narrator can do a better job of explaining and showing the emotions or thoughts of the characters.
Capitalization problems. Misspelled words. (For instance fiance is often spelled with one ‘e’ in one sentence and two in another.) Formatting problems with varying spaces between sentences and underlined words instead of italicized. Punctuation problems, including commas missing or in the wrong places.
I didn’t get a picture of where the story takes place. A lot of woods, a lonely cabin, but no city names, time of year or other details about setting.
Characters’ thoughts aren’t realistic. People don’t think in paragraphs. Some of the lengthy internal dialogue could be explained by the narrator.
A lot of repetition in both topic (usually in conversation) and description. Once a description is given for something or someone, there is no need to repeat the description later.
When switching POV in a tense scene, there’s no need to tell the reader the POV is switching: i.e. – From the killer’s perspective… Back in the car…
Speaking of cars- Most of the first 90+ pages deal with Julia involved in an auto accident. I won’t play spoiler beyond that, but in the aftermath, nobody calls the police. Not believable, especially with what was discovered about the accident. Where’s the pesky detective mentioned? He’s doesn’t show up until late in the story. It’s as if there was another part of the story before this one that the readers don’t see.
There was too much with Julia thinking bad stuff about Trinston. Over and over, but she really doesn’t do anything, makes no plans to find more evidence, just worries every minute. There’s a serial killer out there but all of the killer’s murders are done before the story starts.
This was a very weak story all the way around.
By Alastair Gunn
A small group of people seeks to solve and reveal a message concealed in an innocuous piece of email. A former lawyer is on a quest to discover the truth of a strange occurrence he experienced. A secret organization who operates behind and beyond the government controls a long held conspiracy while hiding the reality behind it…if they can secure the information from an elusive contact. And what how do they all relate to a little known Bellini painting of a Spanish monk wearing an enigmatic pendant?
I won’t divulge a lot of what the conspiracy is but part of it is revealed early on. I get excited about DaVinci Code type puzzlers, conspiracy stories, past mysteries that affect the present. Whether it’s a quest for an ancient treasure or a shadowy group controlling present day events, I love ‘em.
This story has a little bit of D-Code, a nod to Ludlum, and some bizarre aspects. It’s a drawn out plot, so reserve some time for reading.
Larry Walsh: Assistant Director of the NSA, mid 40s, graying temples, bumpy complexion, dark eyes, father died in the Vietnam War
David Castro: attorney, wife and child left him, drives a Dodge truck, early 30s, black hair, studied at Yale
Matt Chambers: parents dead, ex smoker (when we first see him),
Clara: mid 20s, white hair, blue eyes, smokes
Bob Sewell: aging, gray mustache, chairman of the Daedalus committee
Ted Daintry: works in intelligence, overweight
Michael Schlessinger: Grandfather was a Nazi, short brown hair, sallow face, early 30s, wears glasses, weedy voice
A very nice variety of characters. The cast is not so large you can’t keep track of everyone, but there are characters who have a one or two scene part then disappear.
Some of the individual voices get lost when the conversations get lengthy and lecture-ish.
Profanity. Some capitalization errors. At least one misspelled word. In general, the writing could be a bit tighter. Some unnecessary words here and there. (‘swallowed it down’. The word ‘down’ is not needed.) In one chapter, a character is described has having a ‘bumpy complexion.’ That’s okay, but that same description is used for Walsh early in the book. It’s enough of a unique type of wording I remembered it. I didn’t think Walsh had traveled from Washington all the way to a European train so I was a bit confused.
I was also a bit confused by time. One chapter has it night in Germany and the next has it early morning-still dark-in Washington, D.C. It was difficult to determine passage of days at different points around the globe. Obviously, the two chapters I mentioned above could not have happened at the same time on the same day. 4 a.m. in Washington would be noon or so in Germany.
Otherwise, the action was good. There’s always something else right around the next corner-whether in California or Connecticut or London-that kept me turning pages. I’ll compliment the author on his research
As mentioned above, this is a lengthy novel. There are two or three ‘stories’ going on that connect to each other, but it takes some time for everything to come together. Still, it’s a good story. I think however it falls just short of Blue.
By Tracy Weber
Kate Davidson, yoga instructor, has agreed to help out on Orcas Island with some classes in order to help promote a retreat. Before she even arrives on the island, she meets up with Monica, Beach Witch, who, even after settling in, continues to be a pain. Monica is the stepmother of Emmy, co-caretaker of the resort and soon-to-be new bride. Kate finds it difficult to practice the yoga peace, especially when she finds Monica dead in a hot tub and becomes the primes suspect. There are others: Monica’s current husband; the vegan chef; and even Emmy herself. With boyfriend Michael and an eccentric German Shepherd, Kate must use her yoga sleuthing skills, or the next lesson she’ll teach will be from prison. On top of the murder, she has to deal with a friend who isn’t feeling well and a boyfriend she thinks wants to hop into marriage.
This is the second in the series from Weber. I thoroughly enjoyed the first and the second gave me more. Sure, it’s a typical plot, but, like I’ve mentioned in other reviews, if the story is good, classical isn’t bad.
Kate Davidson: 32, 5’3”, owns a yoga studio, owns a German Shepherd, father dead
Michael: Kate’s boyfriend, owns a pet supply store, blue-green eyes, drives an Explorer,
Emmy: caretaker of Elysian Springs, short blond, 20s
Josh: Emmy’s fiance, caretaker of Elysian Springs, dark hair in a pony tail, beard and mustache
Monica: upper 20s, thin, blonde, smokes, owns a Jack Russel Terrier, Emmy’s stepmother
Bruce: Monica’s husband, 50s, wears glasses, balding, was married once before
Rene: Sam’s wife, Kate’s friend, brunette
Sam: has a mustache, 6′, lean, blond, blue eyes, owns a software company
Helen: Emmy mother, 50s, wears glasses, long graying hair
Dale Evans: bearded, tall, attorney, raises goats, drives a Plymouth pickup
All the usual expected cast. Of course, the story would be pretty blasé without the dog. You have to include Bella. She’s the character who keeps Kate grounded, even more than Michael. Some of the characters don’t have last names.
Some good voices. Dale can ham it up when needed. Monica-before her death-expressed no end of reasons to dislike her-as a baddie, not as an included character. From her first words and every conversation she had, I knew she’d end up dead. Conversations didn’t wander and included some foreshadowing and important information.
A bit of mild profanity. This took awhile to get to the corpse. The murder doesn’t happen until almost a third of the way through the book. There is some nice set up along the way. Some good humor, fun yoga knowledge.
This probably should go up in the character section but I enjoyed the diversity of Kate. Yes, she’s into yoga and the tranquility and peace it’s supposed to bring. Yet, you see that a lot of aspects of her life tend to foil that peace. From Michael to a grumpy looking student, to Monica (of course), to a hard-nosed detective. It’s nice to see some development throughout the book.
This is wonderful series and I hope it continues.
By D. C. Black
Attorney Frank Miller takes on a case to sue Internet social network companies for the ease in which sexual predators con children into becoming victims. However, the entity funding the case is a mystery. Miller hires a private investigator who is subsequently killed in an auto accident. Before he died, he left information regarding the investigation upon a computer and Sapphire, a teenager stumbles upon it. She pairs with a geocacher and soon, they are involved in something that soon will threaten their lives. And what shadowy organization is working behind the monitor to manipulate people’s lives?
There are some other side stories in this book, each, like the ‘main’ plot dealt with the Internet and some of the problems people experience.
The problem I had was because there were lots of things happening I found it difficult keeping everything straight, remembering the minor plots from chapter to chapter. Maybe if the author had settled on one or two major plot lines it would have been easier. For me, this was a convoluted book with some things having a spiderweb connection to others while other scenes had no connection to anything else.
Costa: detective, smokes
Frank Miller: lawyer, smokes, married
Sapphire Louise Gray: 16, plays keyboard, has a sister who disappeared, gray eyes, long black hair
Don Redmond: home secretary, married with children
Jake Clarke: geocacher, musician, owns a motorcycle, parents dead, has a brother
Claire: freelance journalist
Hank Taylor: private investigator, former MP in the National Guard, married
…and many, many more, some only mentioned as he or she. The problem here is that because of the plethora of characters, I found it difficult to keep everybody straight and remember, “Oh, yeah, this person was in an earlier chapter doing something.” Many characters are minor or are in part of a scene and, as mentioned below, don’t play a big enough role to be necessary. Through much of the book, there were characters introduced in almost every chapter. Three characters I don’t think were related to each other had the same last name.
One of the characters, Jethro, is a computer guru who helps Jake, Sapphire, and Miller. At first he comes off as secretive, intelligent, efficient. Throughout the book, though, his personality is all over the map. Later, it’s revealed he lives with his mother and tells her a lot of what’s going on. His stable personality falls apart.
The problem with so many characters is that individual voices don’t come through. Problems with tag lines as mentioned below.
First of a trilogy. Some profanity. A few misspellings. Punctuation problems (Incorrectly used or missing. Some of the missing would help clarify sentences). Commas after an exclamation point or a period in dialogue is not needed. A comma is needed instead of a period when there is a tag line, but not outside the quotes. Capitalization problems.
The prologue is set in 1978 but the next chapter doesn’t say the year had changed. I figured it out after the technology inserted itself into the story, but my mind, for a second, was still in ’78.
POV shifts abruptly at times and threw me because at one point, just when I was starting to be involved with one character, I’m pulled out of it only to discover the character wasn’t an important part of the story. Some of this was due to the various scenarios on the wide usage, good and bad, of the Internet. However, some of it was distracting and pulled me away from the main story.
Continuity problem: Hank is shown in one chapter taking a flash drive from a computer in an electronics store and running out the door only to be run over by a car. Then in a later chapter, Sapphire finds the flash drive still in the computer.
There are a lot of scenes that didn’t make sense or truly didn’t add anything to main story and they served only to confuse and distract me.
I think with everything taken into account I must go with:
By Tijani Fulani
Irene Blake is on the case and has found her missing person, a musician, dead and possessing an unknown blue powder. Soon, she’s with the FBI, on the trail of a smuggler. When they track him to the Boston docks, the case takes a supernatural turn. What is she dealing with – drug dealers, statue makers, or something worse, such as Elder Gods? Blake is not only fighting to solve the case, but fighting for her life…because she’s inhaled some of the powder.
A little bit of noir, a little chemical weaponry, a little nod to Lovecraft. Not sure what to make of it but it is different
Irene Blake: private investigator, tall, thin, brunette, mid 30s,
Frances: Blake’s assistant, short, frizzy blonde hair, attended Stanford, mid 20s,
O’Neil: detective, mustached,
Brandt: detective, big frame, salt and pepper colored hair, smokes, former military, mid 50s
Samuel Reyer: associate doctor at Harvard, short black hair,
Ostler: FBI special agent, thin, tall, balding, wears tiny glasses
Many characters don’t have first or last names. Not too much back story on anybody. Didn’t get a clear picture of anybody except for some physical descriptions.
Ira has a little cynicism and I like Frances’ energy and intelligence.
Titled chapters have numbered subsections. Some minor profanity. Some capitalization and spelling problems. This is a short book, quick read and ends with a cliffhanger.
This has the potential to be a good series if only there was more detail. Physical, structural, environmental, sensory. I wasn’t really pulled into the story because of the lack of details. Being a Lovecraft fan I caught on to the mythos right away and wanted more.
By C. L. Clark
Alex Freedman: a serial killer whose mission is to rid the world of persons he views as ‘defective’.
Gillian: blind since birth and Alex’s latest target.
But Alex won’t just come right out and kill her. He’ll have his fun first.
Gillian: blind, owns a seeing eye dog, has a sister, works as clerical support in the justice department, brown eyes, auburn hair, father dead
Alex Freedman: abused as a child, grew up on a farm, obsesses about cleanliness, father dead
Ryesam Jesiah Bryant: police investigator, dark brown hair, blue-gray eyes, 6′, father dead
Good variety although I didn’t feel the ‘tough’ cop of Rye. Especially with that kind of name I expected hard-nosed and raw.
Pretty good voices. It’s a small cast so everybody comes through. I did enjoy-for awhile-some of Alex’s internal dialogue.
No profanity. Some Christianity layered throughout.
One problem I had was that for much of the book, Gillian is out of danger. She and Bryant go on a road trip to her mother’s house, thereby removing her from the vicinity of Alex. Sure, Alex is a bad guy while she’s gone, but there’s no tension, no imminent danger. There are long passages where Alex’s criminal madness and idiosyncrasies are shown but for the most part, it’s repetition. By Chapter 7 and beyond, the reader already is familiar with him. After the third incident between Alex and Gillian until the climax, there isn’t anything for the reader to worry about. Just a lot of romance. I’m not against romance, although I thought the relationship between Gillian and Rye moved a bit fast (and I don’t mean sex), and was a bit over the top with some of the repetitious material regarding their love. There is any problem that temporarily drives them apart, something that they have to work through. Sure, Gillian is hesitant about revealing stuff about her childhood, but that isn’t presented as a possible obstacle that will keep them apart. In fact, it’s solved in short order. I would have enjoyed this more if the attraction and the ‘moving along of the romance’ were parsed throughout with the constant danger from Alex.
By Dominic Stabile
Nick Dioli takes an assignment from a judge to bring back a runaway teen named Chelsea. When he arrives in Gatlinburg to visit the girl’s grandmother at the woman’s bakery shop, he discovers the woman is more than a cupcake maker. Then he’s hired by the grandmother to prove the judge killed his wife. When Diloi looks into the case, he finds infidelity, politics…and murder.
I’ll read PI stories till I die and never tire of them as long as they’re good tales. This one is pretty good. It has all of the expected intrigue and suspects. A little noir, a bit of pulp fiction.
Nick Dioli: private investigator, former cop, mid thirties, broad shoulders, owns a Smith and Wesson MP Shield 9mm, drives a ’96 Taurus, widower
Kim Riley: 35, bartender, has a son
Virginia: Chelsea’s grandmother, short, frail, wears glasses, owns the Cupcake Factory, owns a model 1911 gun, blue eyes
Chelsea: teenager, father is a judge, mother dead, long blonde hair,
Lindsay: Virginia’s niece, detective, strawberry blonde, 5’10”
James Tully: Chelsea’s father, smokes, former business law professor, attended Ole Miss,
Parker: reporter, part time professor, wears glasses
Good cast. I didn’t really get an image of Diloi other than a couple physical descriptions. I don’t learn his last name until almost halfway through the book. Other characters I wish had stuck around longer because they were pretty good.
Nice voices. These types of stories have plenty of dialogue because it’s usual fo the PI to conduct interviews. So, you know when he speaks to someone, there probably is something important oing to be revealed, even if it’s a red herring.
First person from Dioli’s POV. There’s no build up, it just starts with Dioli in trouble. The tale is a fairly quick read with some of the expected developments. Not that that is bad if the story is good. I did enjoy the story but wanted more all around detail. Yes, I could imagine Kim’s bar, but Dioli’s office wasn’t described too much. There were other settings where I wanted more.
The story itself was fine. It gave the expected action and familiar twists. One I didn’t expect was the last line of the second to last paragraph in the book. It was a smack upside the head that left me jolted. The author was lucky it was three in the morning when I read it because I was ready to track him down and demand an answer. Sigh! I guess I and anybody else who reads this will have to wait for the next adventure of Dioli. Grr! Lol.
By D. B. Crawford
Restauranteur and former amateur private eye Vince Bocca is asked to investigate an embezzlement by the president of his bank. Mark Overdale, a former employee, was convicted. Bocca teams with Mark’s wife, Nancy, who discovers Overdale has a connection to the art world. Boccas finds another connection to the art world, a dealer named Rubinski, who is subsequently almost killed. Questions abound: Where is the money? What do Gaugin paintings have to do with the case? What measures will Vince and Nancy take to solve the mystery?
I like a good mystery and I like a good PI. Give me a stereotypical fedora and trench coat wearing PI and I’m usually happy. Give me someone who is an amateur or a reluctant PI and I take a cautious but optimistic step. Vince, however, is someone I can like. The plot is complex enough to be intriguing without being confusing.
Vincenzo Bocca: late 40s, Boston restauranteur, former private investigator, wears reading glasses, curly hair, father-dead-owned a restaurant/gambling joint, divorced
Mark Overdale: blue eyes, graying temples, 6’2”, slim, handsome, in prison for embezzlement, has two sisters
Nancy Overdale: Mark’s wife, cleaning woman, former bank branch manager, straight black hair, owns a cat, father-dead-was a physician
Thomas A. Walker: bank president, 50s, pale, thin white hair, gray eyes
Hannah: dark hair, nurse, Bocca’s lover, pale blue eyes
Fred Dahl: police lieutenant, married, brown hair and eyes
Rupert Invers: runs an auction house for art
Joyce Chandler: works for the Museum of Fine Arts, married, gray shoulder length hair, fine features, widow
As I mentioned above I read a lot of mysteries where the PI is someone ‘off the street’ as it were, or has another job other than police or PI work. Most are okay, some above average. Vince is a guy I can like. He’s easy going, sensitive, and intelligent. He copes with his dad’s connection to the mob and I would have enjoyed a bit stronger tie in since it was mentioned. Maybe an old enemy coming back to haunt him. However, I can’t be writing other authors stories, just thinking about stuff. Lol. Doesn’t affect my liking Vince or my ranking of the story, just thinking about stuff. Lol.
The character name of Tom was used for two different people and I became a bit confused at one point. (Egads, and to think I did the same thing with John in one of my stories. Lol,)
Some of the tag lines are: was saying. These could have been just: he said. To me, ‘was saying’ might work if a character comes in during a conversation already happening. Ditto with the phrase: had been listening.
One problem right at the beginning is Nancy has a flashback to a trip two years previous. The flashback shows a scene with Mark’s interest in art, but Nancy wasn’t present at the time.
There is one scene where Vince and Dahl agree to meet at a storage locker in the morning. I would think for something important, the cop would track down the owner and want to investigate as soon as possible.
Minor profanity but not much. Good all around story.
By Samuel Hawley
On the tragic night, Jeff Shaw is awakened by his wife who hears intruders downstairs. Shaw grabs his gun and the night ends in two deaths. The issue now is, the victims were members of a violent gang and Shaw and his family are now in fear for their lives. Two questions loom: How are the Shaws going to defend themselves against a gang? Why did they break into the Shaws’ house in the first place?
A timely dramatic plot for today’s society.
Jeffrey Shaw: 33, has two children, owns a van, produce manager at a supermarket, owns a Bersa Thunder .380, has a brother and a sister, former Army
Allison ‘Allie’ Shaw: Jeff’s wife, works at a property management company, owns a Pontiac Sunfire
Thomas Nelson Montgomery: black, 27, 5’7”, 163, has several nicknames/aliases, ex con for robbery/assault, works at a car wash, gang member
Jewel Montgomery: Thomas’ mother, works at Walmart
There are many more characters such as gang members and other bad guys. Some are…unique in personality. Most are characters you would expect to see in a story like this.
Voices do come through. Most of the gang members sound the same. Conversations don’t drag.
Profanity. Direct and straightforward writing. There’s a variety of angles shown: the gang members avenging their own; the ‘community leaders’ decrying perceived injustice; the stymied cops; neighbors.
Action scenes are, again, direct, no messing around. It’s an interesting snapshot of something that is plausible. Sure, some of it is jazzed up to make it interesting, but the ‘reality’ of the situation comes through.
So, as to rank. I thought for awhile about green, but when I looked back over the entire book, I remembered the fact the writing was solid, the story turned in a direction I didn’t expect, and nothing made me want to just get to the end to be done with it. So, with those points in mind-
By Eden Baylee
Psychaitrist Kate Hampton is on a winter vacation in Jamaica at a resort owned by friends Anna and Nolan Pearson. This year is a bit different because the Pearson are not only just coming off cleaning up after a hurricane caused damage, but Matthew Kane is returning. Kane is a travel writer who panned the property. Kate, however, even with her eidetic memory, cannot figure out from where she knows Kane. At the resort, Kate and Kane meet other guests, each with their own problems…and secrets. And problems and secrets lead to violence…and murder.
Supposedly a suspense that wasn’t. As I mention below, I didn’t get the gist of the book.
Kate Hampton: psychiatrist, eidetic memory, long dark hair, has tattoos
Matthew Kane: 49, travel writer, gaunt face, late 40s to 50s, receding hairline, food and other allergies, mother dead
Annushka ‘Anna’ Pearson: Co-owner of Sunset Villa Estates in Jamaica, black hair, former model
Nolan Pearson: Anna husband, marine biologist, plays drums
Jack Campbell: doctor, tanned, psychiatrist, homosexual,
Ben: bearded, big frame, suffers from arthritis, professor, has a daughter
Nadine: Ben’s wife, 50s
Greg: 6’3”, voice,
Tom: Greg’s spouse, fashion designer
A nice variety of personalities. Some people don’t have last names but there is sufficient background info to get a flavor for them.
I’m wasn’t too sure about Kane. His personality changes almost too abruptly. At the beginning he’s not very nice, but by halfway through, he’s hitting on Kate and nice to a boar (a person, not the animal). Kate, for the most part, bothered me as detail below.
Pretty straightforward. Some voices come through, especially the two from Tennessee. Some dialogue continuations after tag lines that didn’t have proper capitalization.
Book separated into Days with titled chapters. Some profanity. Some graphic descriptions.
Low tension for almost half the book.
Okay, now for the concerns. I didn’t quite understand the thrust of the story. There was no climax, per se, in where the killer was revealed in a scene of high tension and danger. In fact, I felt there was an anti-climax to the whole thing. I didn’t see where the other characters added much other than background scenery. A few received attention in scenes that didn’t make any difference to the story.
Kate’s strong relationship with a neighbor just fizzled in the end.
I was confused by the ending because it reveals a lot of background information regarding Kate that wasn’t foreshadowed very clearly. It was an information dump that, while fine, should have been piecemealed (if I can make this a verb) throughout. Kate, I thought was to be the central figure in the story, and I guess she was, but not as strongly as expected.
I think the main problem was there was no central theme other than wondering if Kane was going to write a better review for the resort. The other issues were sort of woven throughout that made the story unfocussed.