Just Recompense

BookCoverImage

By Douglas Spencer Wallis

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http://www.amazon.com/Just-Recompense-Basil-Ackroyds-France-ebook/dp/B00O74NJCG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425811457&sr=8-1&keywords=just+recompense%2C+wallis

Plot

Britsher Basil Ackroyd, mayor of the French town of Durac, is in trouble. He owes his Italian uncle a lot of money. An insurance investigator has questions regarding a fire. One of his buildings is desired by the local constabulary and Basil’s wife, but is reported to be available as a refuge for illegal immigrants. An old ‘friend’ shows up with another scheme to pay owed debts…but winds up dead instead. Meanwhile, a young woman in the government is outraged at the reports of illegals and plans to make Basil pay.

Add in a Russian and a Chinese and this makes for a crazy complex concoction. The plot jumps from item to item so try to keep up.

Characters

Basil Ackroyd: British, mayor of the French town of Durac, smokes cigars, has a sister, owns a motorbike, rotund stomach, has children, has a mustache

Elizabeth Lindy Ackroyd: Basil’s wife, company owner

Sid: cafe owner

Jack Waldo ‘Ginger’ Frampton: drives a Mercedes truck, divorced

Leticia Frampton: obese, Ginger’s sister

Claudine Dubois: insurance investigator

Abdul Bin Avay: has some gold in his teeth, dark skin, notary public

Jean Paul Beauclaire: has the rank of Captain

Everybody in this book is nuts. Basil reminds me a bit of Cleese’s Basil Fawlty. Not many physical descriptions for characters, but I could get a vague sense of them through their personalities.

Dialogue

Basil’s secretary’s voice comes through because of her personality. So does Leticia’s. Some conversations tend to go back and forth at a rapid pace like an old radio comedy. Near the end there are lengthy explanatory conversations.

Writing

Some profanity.

This reads like a comedy show. There’s some corny humor, prat fall type antics and a roundabout way of getting to the end. It’s a different read than most. With so many characters with so many connections, it took me awhile to get into it and even when I started too, it veered off around another corner.

Still a pretty good read. I debated awhile on what rank to give it but decided that the clean writing (I didn’t see mistakes in grammar, spelling, etc) earned it:

Purple Belt

Purple

Black Rose

blackrose

By Alex Lukeman

alex

wwwalexlukeman.com

Plot

When samples of a bio-weapon are stolen, American Project members are on the case. Who’s taken the samples and why? The Russians? An old Project enemy named AEON? And how does a shadowy individual called Adam figure into the matter? It’s up to Nick Carter, fiancee Selena Connor, and the rest of Project to stop an organization bent on setting loose an unstoppable plague. Oh, and don’t forget those pesky Russians.

Good thriller material. Good guys versus baddies with some interpersonal relationships added into the mix.

Characters

Nick Carter: former Marine Recon, works for the Project, scar on left ear, smoky gray eyes, short black hair, 6′, just under 200 lbs, has problems with formerly broken fingers

Selena Connor: Nick’s fiancee, works for the Project, fluent in many languages, expertise for ancient languages, knows martial arts, violet eyes, reddish blonde hair

Lamont Cameron: works for the Project, black, blue eyes, facial scar, former SEAL,

Elizabeth Harker: Director of the Project, keeps a cat in her office

Stephanie Willits: Project computer techie, formerly with the NSA

Alexei Ivanovich Vysotsky: in the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, black eyes, bushy eyebrows, 50s, silver streaked receding hair, stocky build

Johannes Gutenburg: chairman of AEON, married, bank owner, near 60, green eyes

Adam: head of the Guardians, drives a modified Cadillac

Rice: United States President, blue/green eyes,

Some of the attitudes of the Project people seem a little relaxed: “I could have been in that car when the bomb exploded.” “Neat gadget.” Okay, these are paraphrases of the actual dialogue but I didn’t feel the emotion of danger when danger was near. And these guys are supposed to be professionals. They’re not going to be ogling over their spy toys. Also, they shouldn’t be explaining to each other about the difference between weapons. Shouldn’t they already know the difference because of their training?

Don’t be a minor character. You don’t last too long.

Dialogue

No real distinguishable voices. Everybody spoke like Midwestern Americans.

Writing

One thing that was not believable is that the Koreans had multiple security measures in their lab before anybody was able to get within ten feet of the bio samples and yet Project members walked right into another lab in Switzerland and found the samples almost right away. No key card or coded lock doors? NO bio-hazard suits needed? I would have thought that the team would have done a bit more research into the building to figure out everything before infiltration. They did later when making a decision to breach a chateau.

Also not believable is the leader of the bad guy organization doesn’t use encrypted computers but a regular, easy-to-break password.

The tension is surface. Action almost too quick. A lot of telling and not showing the effects of bullets and bombs upon the main characters.

Only because it was a decent thriller otherwise, did it make not being any lower ranked.

My Rank:

Green Belt

Green

Jack’s Wagers

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By Wirton Arvel

profilo pensa 400x400 ingrandito firmato

http://www.amazon.com/Jacks-Wagers-Jack-Lantern-Tale-ebook/dp/B00O72DOEQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425628161&sr=8-1&keywords=jack%27s+wager%2C+arvel

Plot

A down and out man named Jack, for whom nothing goes right, is about to start an amazing adventure. First he meets and beats the Devil not once, but twice. Then he sets out on a journey to find himself and ends up creating a legend.

This is a version of Halloween or Samhain and of the origin of the Jack O’Lantern. Interesting take on an ancient theme.

Characters

Jack O’Lantern: blacksmith, gambler

The Devil

Other than some minor characters Jack and the Devil are the major two. There’s a fair amount of information on Jack. No physical details for him.

Dialogue

Some of the dialogue is with quotes and some delineated by dashes. I’m not sure why the author did this but in one case he mixed the two. Probably should have chosen one for all dialogue.

Writing

Titled chapters. Long and complex sentences. Relatively short story.

The writing is lofty and prosaic yet-and despite the complexity-simple. That’s not to say childishly simple, just plain, to the point. With the writing style and the ‘age’ of the story, I found the use of the word ‘pinball’ out of place.

This story is all the narrator telling the story. There are a few instances of Jack’s thoughts, but from the narrator’s POV. Because of this I didn’t really get into the character of Jack, to really feel him or for him. This is an overview of Jack’s life with little detail on his youth and scant details about his adult life. Maybe some more specific instances of adventures as we saw with his meetings with the Devil? More showing?

My Rank:

Green Belt

Green

The Other Woman

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by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Ryan
http://hankphillippiryan.com/

Plot
Jane Ryland is a new reporter for the Boston Register, trying to distance herself from a controversial time as a television reporter. She’s assigned to interview Moira Lassiter, whose husband, Owen, is running for the Senate. She suspects an affair when Moira won’t agree to meet. She’s also seeking information about an enigmatic woman in a red coat who makes regular appearances on the campaign trail.

Jake Brogan, homicide investigator, is two bodies deep into a murder case the press is attributing to the ‘Bridge Killer’. When a third victim is discovered to be directly related to Ryland’s past, she and Brogan agree to-somewhat-work together to find the answers.

Other parties are interested in Owen Lassiter, ones with devastating connections to Owen…and to each other. Individuals who are so determined, they won’t let anything stand in their way…

An intriguing political thriller. Some are good, some not so. This is better than most. The connections between characters add to the overall plot very well.

Characters
Jane Ryland: 32, disgraced former television reporter she is a new reporter for the Boston Register, has a sister, father is a doctor, drives an Audi TT, mom dead, spiky short walnut brown hair

Jacob Dellacort Brogan: 35, homicide investigator in Boston, grandfather was a police golden retriever, takes notes on a Blackberry

Alex Wyatt: editor for the Boston Register, wears wire rim glasses, married, graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism, cobalt eyes

Owen Lassiter: Former Massachusetts governor, running for Senate, handsome, flinty eyes, silver hair, married, no children

Moira Kelly Lassiter: Owen’s wife, silver blonde, former ballerina

Eleanor Mead Gable: Lassiter’s opponent, ash blonde pageboy cut hair, comes from a wealthy family

A plethora of characters, but Ryan does a good job of distinguishing personalities. She added just enough mystery and hidden truths to some keep me guessing. There are other characters I didn’t add these because, first, I didn’t want to add an unintentional spoiler, and second, because I had to read a lot farther into the book before I discovered the truths. I enjoyed the play between Brogan and Ryland since they were close for a short time. Owen is a standard politician type character.

Dialogue
Good voices that come through well. Conversations stay on point.

Writing
Relatively short chapters. At the time of writing this review I had done a blog about irritating misuses of language so I’ve been watchful for those instances. Ryan avoided one of the common mistakes I see a lot. Solid writing. Since this contains bits of a police procedural, with a suspense seen where reporters are characters, the action isn’t until later. With each piece of the story moving inexorably toward a focal climactic point, I didn’t mind the snippets of three of four stories going on.

My Rank:

Brown Belt

Brown

The Heist: 50 Shades Of Green

Front Cover The Heist

By Bonnie Lee

Author

http://www.amazon.com/Taxpertise-Heist-50-Shades-Green-ebook/dp/B00TQ0JDFI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1425212805&sr=8-2&keywords=50+shades+of+green

Plot

Tax specialist Kim Stillwell is bored. That situation comes to an end when a client walks in and dumps a bunch of cash on her desk, then runs out, and promptly gets shot. What’s going on? It’s Kim’s job to find the answer…while trying to establish a relationship with a hunky beau…and avoiding telling the cops anything that could ruin her business.

Well, why not? You have cooking mysteries, knitting mysteries, a plethora of cat and dog mysteries, why not tax mysteries? It makes for a unique story and gives the author a good challenge which is how to work tax related information into a mystery.

Characters

Kim Stillwell: 33, 5’9”, tax specialist, drives a silver BMW

Susan: Kim’s sister, author, works at a dog care center, attended Stanford

Simon Dunfey: operates a cabinet making business, owns horses

Maggie Dunfrey: Simon’s wife, early 30s, beauty mark below her lower lip, raven hair, small frame

‘Mac’ McCarthy: police officer, early 50s, paunchy, 6’2”, brown eyes, thin grey hair

Luke Hunter: musician, 6’6”, owns a cat

All right, first off, I must give a big raspberry to the author because she included a character who scored big with a literary agent. Shame on her for rubbing it in for the rest us schlubs who’ve received rejection after rejection. Lol.

Otherwise, I like the characters although Luke comes on a bit obsessive. Yeah, I realize Kim was shot at and he cares for her, but it seemed that Luke wanted to know where was every minute of the day and became upset when she didn’t answer her phone. Sheesh, pal, the lady has a life and a job. I know, it’s inevitable she will be in danger, but just comes off a bit strong.

Dialogue

A capitalization error on a tag line. A bit of punctuation problem in a conversation. Kim’s voice comes through best. Luke’s does too, although as mentioned above, he goes a bit over the top in his “I’m so worried about you and care about you so much. Let’s talk marriage and children right away.” Really? Any woman I know would be saying, “Hey buddy, back off with the putting-a-ring-on-it business.”

Writing

Most chapters end with a tax tip that is related to something in the chapter. Chapters are titled. A couple instances of minor profanity.

Some of the book is third person past. Some is first person present from Kim’s POV. Some of the book is third person present. A bit of a mixing of tenses at times. A couple capitalization errors.

So, I’m reading along and it’s pretty standard fare with the usual cops not liking the protagonist, the romance angle, and the kidnapping. Except, that the last suddenly goes off into goofy land. Okay, so there’s no major problem with goofy, just that with a longer book this part would have been set up or foreshadowed or hinted at (a scene early on showing the baddie in the unique situation that is in this book). With a relatively short story here, you have to takes things in stride.

Still pretty good.

My Rank:

Green Belt

Green

The Blue Journal

bluejournal

By L. T. Graham

http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Journal-Detective-Anthony-Walker/dp/1633880605/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424747514&sr=8-1&keywords=blue+journal%2C+graham

Plot

When small town resident Elizabeth Knoebell is murder, former New York investigator Anthony Walker is on the case. He soon finds a series of stories and notes on Elizabeth’s computer that pertain to sexual encounters. But are the stories fictional? How is the fact that Elizabeth and her husband were both seeing Randi Conway, a psychologist, related? Are any of Conway’s other clients involved?

A steamy filled murder mystery. Sex, violence, and secrets waiting to be revealed. What other elements do you need?

Characters

Anthony Walker: 39, Lieutenant Detective, formerly with New York force, Irish/Italian descent, father was a police officer, attended John Jay College, divorced, has two daughters, drives a Ford Explorer, smokes

Randi Conway: psychologist, tall, blonde, attractive, middle 30s, brown eyes, sandy colored hair,

Stanley Knoebel: surgeon, wife is killed at the beginning, born in Romania, has a daughter, receding hairline, thin lips, pale blue eyes

Fran Colello: 45, married with children, dark eyes, brunette, housewife, smokes

Teddy Blasko: computer consultant to the police

Robert Stratford: Conway’s lawyer, Selectman, married, athletic physique, opaque brown eyes, straight brown hair

A varied cast that might need a playbill to remember who’s who. With the different personalities, it’s difficult sometimes to let everybody have time in the spotlight, if even for a short time. In this story he author gives a decent amount of snippet scenes to provide enough “Yeah, she/he could be the killer” thoughts. Good, basic descriptions but enough for me to have a decent mental image. Stanley is one of those characters you love to dislike because of his brusque personality.

I did think that the characters have enough background information so that I didn’t just easily dismiss them as throwaway. Strong personalities.

The more I moved through the story the more I came to not particularly enjoy Conway. I felt she wasn’t a very good psychologist. Her patients kept wanting to leave and during any sessions or talks, she didn’t seem to offer any substantive advice on solving the problems. She’d ask questions, but never got anywhere. She ran off to talk with a friend but the topics varied from her love life to the murder to her role as a psychologist…but again, nothing was solved. Her patients seemed to get worse as the days passed which doesn’t bode well for her reputation. However, as an aspect of ‘character development’ maybe that was the point.

Dialogue

Again, with so many characters, voices are tough to distinguish. I think the two main characters, Walker and Conway with the supporting roles of another officer and the Captain stand out. I think some conversations, while at first appearing to be unimportant, contain insights either to round out characters or point the finger-temporarily-at a particular person.

Writing

Profanity. Warning: Sex scenes included that read like letters to Penthouse.

This book is more of a soap opera with a mystery than a strict police procedural. Several subplots, some with more importance than others. There is a bit of suspense with the murderer lurking in the shadows every so often.

The graphic nature of, and the numerous passages of sex scenes was a bit of a turnoff for me.

Still a pretty good mystery.

My Rank:

Purple Belt

Purple

Defying Death In Hagerstown

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By John Paul Carinci

johncarinci

http://www.amazon.com/Defying-Death-Hagerstown-Morgan-Fiction/dp/1630473510/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424168500&sr=8-1&keywords=defying+death+in+hagerstown

Plot

Down-and-out reporter Louis Gerhani has one last shot at keeping his job: Write a story about 110 year old Lolita Croome from Hagerstown, Maryland. Even before he meets Ms. Croome, Gerhani discovers a series of unsolved murders from the early 1920s. His once boring story now has some meat…if he can stay alive long enough to write it. Once he starts asking questions, he runs up against forces determined to keep those questions unanswered.

Good plot. There’s enough of a story here to make a story, if you know what I mean. Unfortunately, the author doesn’t use it to the best advantage. I wasn’t sure what to make of this as I worked my way through it. A little mystery with an attempt at metaphysical with dreams providing clues and romantic forecasts. Some philosophical/theological/Christian themes. Themes here and there that didn’t coalesce.

Characters

Louis Gerhani: 31, Washington Gazette reporter, drinks a lot of alcohol, drives a ’10 Chevy Malibu, father dead, has a sister, brown eyes

Lolita Croome: 110 years old, worked as a teacher’s assistant, wears glasses, slightly overweight

Jennifer Croome: 83, Lolita’s daughter, married, grey hair, slim

Harold Glavin: Gazette editor, been in the newspaper biz for almost fifty years, deep voice, smokes cigars, thrice divorced

Carl: bartender, 55, 6’4”, 250 lbs, father-dead-was an alcoholic, has siblings, married with five children

Fred: barber, almost fifty, has cancer and COPD

Joel S. Krolm: police Captain, 6’3”, 280 lbs, middle 40s, long hair, round face

Josephine Cleary: 80, uses a cane, slim, widow, works at a nursing home

Some interesting and unique last names for many characters.

Gerhani was all over the map, though. At first he comes across as a noir type guy: his woman left him, his boss wants to fire him, he drinks. He’s cynical. Then he gets inspiration from a bartender and a barber. At one point he waxes philosophical and is shown heartbroken over the murders. I just couldn’t get a grasp on him.

Other characters just don’t seem believable. A doctor would not call his patient by his first name upon first meeting him. The cops are very brash with Gerhani for no apparent reason and no plausible explanation. In fact, they seem more concerned with Gerhani leaving town than the fact someone is after him. Glavin is over the top and very insulting.

Other characters are minor but have too much description. I expected them to stick around longer but within a page or two, they’re gone. No need to repeat a description of a character once given.

Dialogue

An egregious error in dialogue: She stood up and headed quickly back to the kitchen, calling loudly over her shoulder, “Neither of the two men was ever charged,” she yelled a little loudly as she was running back to the kitchen.

No, no, no. Two tag lines are wrong and the use of the word loudly twice is definitely wrong. And this double tag line is seen more than once.

Repetition in action on dialogue. One person ‘said with a big smile’ twice in one conversation.

Problems with repetitious words within dialogue. “Body bag” & “Hammerhead” used by multiple characters.

Some of the dialogue very weak, B-movie. Too many adverbs in tag lines. ‘Loudly’ was overused.

Writing

First person from Gerhani’s POV.

The writing could have been a lot tighter. Some extra words here and there that could have been dropped. There is a lot of repetition of words or series of words. Sometimes authors will repeat a word in the same paragraph or succeeding paragraphs. Here there is repetition that is spread out but still too close and too often noted. ‘110 year old woman’, ‘historic murders’. Many others. In one instance the main character said something ‘not caring that he disliked me’ but the author used that phrase twice in the same dialogue. One word I always catch because I monitor in my own writing is the vague sounding ‘few’. The constant repetition was enough to be irritating when I was trying to have a smooth read.

I understand how cities can feel small-townish, but when you have a population of almost 40,000 that’s not small anymore. Maybe it’s just me but I kept thinking about a town near where I was raised, Burlington, Iowa. Nobody could claim minimal crime and a homey Mayberry feel to it as Hagerstown is presented. It may be a minor point but it did strike a chord with me.

Long set up before some action starts, almost a fifth of the book and Gerhani doesn’t meet Lolita (supposedly the second main character) until about 35% of the way in. Then she doesn’t seem to add anything substantive to the mystery other than dreams. Gerhani spends too long lamenting his failed relationship at the beginning. Plus he often reminds the reader how precarious his job is. (As do other characters.) However, attacks against Gerhani are too quickly connected, without a good explanation, to the 1923 murders. Gerhani hadn’t even narrowed down the focus of the investigation when a bad guy appears and boom! it’s supposed to be related to the murders? How? Why so fast? Plus, there is a lot of extraneous material and that doesn’t seem to fit anywhere. Questions that aren’t answered: How did a character know something was wrong with Gerhani when she couldn’t see him? When did Gerhani find time to do all of his research on the town and Lolita? Why does Glavin and his secretary want an obsessive update of Gerhani and his movements when they obviously don’t care about him? Where does the bad guy obtain the poison he uses?

This was a struggle to read because I kept running into problems that ruined the enjoyment. This story stumbles and doesn’t really take off. The only redemption is that that I didn’t find misspelling, grammar, or capitalization errors. However, I think with the problems I still have to drop this from my original thought of yellow to:

Orange Belt

Orange

A Leafy Green World

leafygreenworld

By Sean Dow

sean-dow-photo

http://www.amazon.com/Leafy-Green-World-Sean-Dow/dp/1634131444/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423730348&sr=8-1&keywords=a+leafy+green+world

Plot

His wife and daughter killed by a drunk driver and no justice to be had, bills piling up, his second employment as a doctor gone, Brent Holcomb moves to Portland, Oregon to try to find a new start on his life. Soon, however, he starts feeling a sense of being followed. He then becomes involved with a group of activists, but he realizes that these people could be very dangerous. However, he might have a few ideas.

It’s a little bit drama, a little bit thriller, with some humor laced throughout. I kept wondering if I should take this as a serious story or stick my tongue in my cheek.

Characters

Brent Holcomb: 6’2, around 220 pounds, doctor, wife and daughter killed by a drunk driver, came from a wealthy family, fluent in several languages, knows fencing, know martial arts, has a sister and brother, father a criminal, attended Tulane University where he played volleyball, sometimes smokes cigars

Robyn: black hair with a hint of red

Tony Rossi: FBI agent, a bit of 5’6”, divorced with children

Bill: barber, smoker, flat top hair, owns a Labrador, parents dead, father owned the barber sop before Bill, divorced with children

Spike: professorial looks, animal rights activist, Robyn’s former boyfriend

Some of the activist people sound like 60s and 70s beatnik/revolutionary types. With names like Che and Parkeur it harkens back to that time.

However, I never felt close to any character. There is a lot of surface material, a few descriptions, but not enough for me to have a clear image of anybody. Things and scenes happened so fast that any poignant moments slide away. As an example-and I won’t play spoiler-Bill suffers a loss. The scene moves along and although the author doesn’t gloss over the impact he doesn’t really show the effect of the death other than a moment in time.

Part of this surface material lends to the disbelieving of Brent accepting Robyn into not only his life, but his house after the first night. Yes, he’s smitten, but the swiftness of them being together was too much. Doesn’t show her moving in or where she lived before. Just too fast that everything happened.

Dialogue

Some of the authority voices come through and there is some cynicism from Brent.

The problem I had with the conversations was most were usually were over in a short amount of time. A little talk here and bam! move to the next scene. So there was no time for me to assess any action going on other than eating and drinking at times. There were no beats during conversations (or so few as to not matter), nobody picking up a coffee cup or puffing on a cigar. Plus, some of the dialogue was ‘told’ by the narrator, and as I mention below, telling is not a good thing to have if there is too much of it.

There is one bit of emotion seen when Brent tells off his old boss but that’s about it. However, in another scene, I’m told of Robyn’s anger instead of shown it. By doing it this way, it lessens the impact for the sake of a bit of humor.

The exception to the short conversation: Brent does do some lecturing when he’s speaking to the activists and the bad guys but these conversations run too long with no breaks.

Writing

First person from Brent’s POV for most of the book. Third person POV from other characters in a few chapters. Profanity. Relatively short chapters.

A spelling mistake or incorrect word placement here and there but not bad.

Continuity problem: Brent was driven, blindfolded, to a warehouse. However, Brent-the narrator told the reader that he was at a warehouse before Brent-the character had removed the blindfold.

This problems stems from the fact there is a lot of ‘telling’ in this book. And not just telling, but telling as from a long time in the future looking way back in the past. The old adage ‘show, don’t tell’ could have been used here. By not showing, I missed extensive reactions from characters. Sure Robyn paled at one point. Okay, but then there was more telling of how the situation was resolved.

By telling, I missed the sensory descriptions of people and places.

Ditto with any action happening. Not enough reaction, of slowing down time to bring me into the moment.

I realize that most of this plot is improbable, but went with it anyhow. However, some realism has to occur. For instance, when a character gets shot, Brent makes up a story about how it happened. However, there would be NO circumstance involving a shooting where the police would NOT be called in.

Some interesting use of words and similes and phrasing. The author exhibits some humorous wit: “There’s a place for all God’s creatures, right next to the potatoes and gravy.”

However, because I sailed through this book with no true reader involvement or excitement, and disappointed with no real climactic danger filled scene, I think I’m going to have to give this a ranking of:

Camouflage Belt

Camo

Murder At Cirey

Murder at Cirey_Cheryl Sawyer_Cover and text

By Cheryl Sawyer

Cheryl Sawyer_authpic

http://www.cherylhingley.com

NOTE: Before I proceed with the review I wish to compliment Ms. Hingley on her email request. It was one of the main reasons I chose to accept this book for review. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, I hesitate when it comes to historical mysteries even if they include real people. However, the email that introduced Ms. Sawyer and her book to me was a fine example of how, I think, request letters should be written. It made a fine attempt at connecting with the reviewer and gave a bit of her writing history, then gave an extended back cover blurb about the book. It also gave me a link to her website. So often I see a short one or two sentence email with the casualness of, “Hey, would you want to read and review my book?” No intro, no blurb, and the author makes me do research into what the book looks like and what it’s about. Most emails will have a link but no more. I appreciate the thoroughness put into Ms. Hingley’s request.

—————————–

Plot

1735. The Champagne area of France. Where Victor Constant, military policeman, has been stationed. Where one day, the writer, Voltaire, finds the corpse of a murdered man. Who was a secretary of a nobleman and general. Constant begins his investigation and immediately runs into questions. How did the man arrive in the Cirey woods only to be murdered? Why was he there in the first place? And of course, the biggest question – who killed him? Constant’s investigations lead him to discover more to the murdered man’s life than at first suspected.

Of course it’s your standard murder mystery but authors must find a freshness to the old standards and this time it’s in the form of 18th Century France. And not just the time and place but to bring in actual people is a plus.

Characters

Victor Constant: military policeman with the title Cavalier, large frame, deep voice, grew up in Paris, cobalt eyes, has a sister, father committed suicide, mother dead

Francois-Marie Arouet De Voltaire: 41, writer, formerly in prison, brown eyes, short dark hair, wealthy

Albert Poirier; average height, solid frame, gamekeeper

Louis Tranchet de Sandre: magistrate, light eyes, fifties, lean, married with two sons

Gabrielle-Emilie Du Chatalet: late 20s, Voltaire’s lover, married, has children, plays the harpsichord, husband a soldier

Christine Verrat: fair hair, slender, father is a draper, plays the harp

Beauregard: ranked a Lieutenant, thin, pointy head, small ears

Olivier Frenot de Caradoc: A Prevot-General

Not too much physical descriptions of some of the character, but some of them I could imagine just by their title and bearing. A nice mixture of characters both military and civilian, even religious.

Dialogue

Voices come through really well, especially Voltaire’s. A little high brow mixed with intelligence and his wonderful use of words. Again, sometimes characters can be rounded out by their dialogue so I’ll let it pass without too much of a black mark on the lack of physical descriptions because of the conversations and voices. At least for me, I could picture every character.

Writing

Each chapter is a day. Some unnecessary profanity.

One misspelling of a name.

One of the things that does make historical mysteries enjoyable is the science of the times and how it can be used to solve a crime. In this book, there is an early form of a ballistics test.

The author presented 18th Century France pretty well. The action was what I expected. Constant did a lot of running around from town to town but I don’t think the story dragged.

I was a bit disappointed that Voltaire didn’t play a larger role. At one point he was almost upstaged by his lover in the detecting. I thought maybe Voltaire might play a Watson role to Constant or at least a pesky sidekick.

On the whole, a very well written book and a good murder mystery.

My Rank:

Purple Belt

Purple

35 Dog Training Mistakes

35DogTrainingMistakes_Front

By James Goodman

Goodman

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T75C4VC/

Once again I take a rare occasion to review a book outside my usually preferred genres. Please don’t get the idea that I’m going to always take these types of books, but I don’t think it hurts to venture outside the box, as it were. I only take those outside my preferences if they intrigue me or strike my fancy. This one happened to do so. (Hint: Books with animals always get a second look even if they may not get reviewed.)

Plot

This is a list of 35 mistakes people make when training their dogs. Some of these include: giving in to bad behavior, repeating a command, inconsistent training by different family members, underestimating exercise needs, incorrect punishment, feeding certain human food to dogs. Then the author gives alternatives to the mistakes.

Some of these are common sense, but some I hadn’t realized. For instance, I never thought that bacon might be bad for your dog. Another is the ‘alpha roll’ to show dominance. I hadn’t realized doing this might not be beneficial of a healthy relationship with the dog.

Characters

No characters, per se, unless the general ‘you’ is counted. You as in the reader and dog owner/trainer. Of course ‘you’ aren’t described other than the above mistakes ‘you’ might make. However, the author doesn’t demean ‘you’, but explains in a no-nonsense way about dog training.

Dialogue

Again, no dialogue other than commands that might be said to the dog. One amusing bit was in the section on consistent training among family members where one person might say “Sit.” and another person might say, “Please have a seat.” The dog might be confused with this.

Writing

Author offers a free gift for purchasing the book – games you can play with your dog.

Short read. Titled short chapters. Each chapter is ended by a summary.

In the epub version I read there were constant spelling problems with words with double l’s. ‘Will’, ‘allow’, ‘eventually’. The second ‘l’ was missing in almost all instances. I didn’t see it in the pdf file, so I’m going to assume the mistake was only in the epub.

One incorrect word – ‘loose’ should have been ‘lose’.

With a book as short as this, pictures would add to the enjoyment rather than just having a ‘lecture’ type book.

This is a good book for first time dog owners or those who want to be serious about training dogs.

My Rank:

Green Belt

Green

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