Dark Cure


By Cameron K. Moore




Karl Shepherd, former Ranger, has joined a group of scientists in the Amazon searching for a cure for Alzheimer’s. Shepherd hopes that this cure might be used to cure his daughter’s degenerative condition. However, There is a team of mercenaries, one of whom has been biologically modified, are working for the competition and are after the cure. With limited weaponry, can Shepherd and the scientists outwit and survive not only the super soldiers, but an oncoming devastating storm?

I like it. Adventure, action, intelligence, science, and battling nature. A pretty good plot with not just muscle, but mind. I like both sides trying to out-think the other.


Karl Shepherd: doctor, former Army Ranger, has a daughter, widower, muscular frame, scar on one knee, medical degree from Harvard.

Jaques Benoit: former member of the French Foreign Legion.

Allie Temple: Immunologist, green eyes, auburn hair, fit, claustrophobic

Paul O’Connell: attended Oxford and UCLA

Ben Burg: early 20s, long brown hair

I like Shepherd and Allie, since they were the two main characters focused on. Well, Benoit, too. The problem with the characters section here is there were too many characters. Too many scientists and named soldiers. It was difficult to keep everyone straight, even though a few got their moment in the spotlight. I know some of them had to be around if only for body count, but even with those left after the first few battles, I found it difficult not having a ready to read cast list. They were all introduced early on and it was too much.


Pretty good. A few too many times of “Let’s run away” followed by “Let’s think of something else” and “We have to destroy everything” followed by “No way, you can’t.”

Otherwise, the voices were true to the characters.



As mentioned, I liked how the scientists and Shepherd use intelligence and science to battle the mercenaries. It was a bit convenient that every time something needed to be done, someone remembered either a new poison or a something unique about the facility. It would have been better if some of that was introduced early on, or at least mentioned, maybe the layout of the facility shown early on. That way it wouldn’t have a been a ‘rabbit out the hat’ surprise when needed. The way it was done sort of worked and I did enjoy how they came up with a way out or a way to delay attacks and fight back.

No grammar/misspelling/punctuation errors. I’m giving this a Green Belt not because of any real problems, and I did enjoy it. I don’t think it quite deserved a Purple, but I would suggest a reading if one enjoys a bit of adventure and action.



Golden Buddha


By Clive Cussler




The Corporation, a group of highly intelligent and skilled mercenaries, under the leadership of Juan Cabrillo, board a brand new ship. It’s a state-of-the-art seagoing marvel with unthinkable technology at its disposal. And it’s designed to look like a rusty old lumber hauler. But if Cabrillo and his team plan to make this spy ship their new headquarters, their first mission had better be a success.

With the secret backing of the US government, Cabrillo sets out to put Tibet back in the hands of the Dalai Lama by striking a deal with the Russians and the Chinese. His main negotiating chip is knowledge of a golden Buddha containing records of vast oil reserves in the disputed land. But first, he’ll have to locate—and steal—the all-important artifact. And there are certain people who would do anything in their power to see him fail…

My Analysis

Again, I listened to the audio version which was a long book. I did like the complexities of the plot to steal the Buddah. The narrator did a passable job at voices, although the Asian dialects were a bit lame.

Cussler provides a lot of action, a lot of intrigue, a lot of characters, some fun stuff, all without the use of profanity or overt gore. As the beginning of the audio book states, this is not the Dirk Pitt adventure, but another series that has been a good one. I’ve listened to a few of these Oregon Files novels. The technology is believable, the characters are fun and the story is well drawn out.

My Rank:

Blue Belt


Dying For Dinner


By Miranda Bliss



Anne Capshaw has decided to work full time at her boyfriend’s restaurant, where he conducts cooking classes. This night, however, a guest chef fails to appear. Checking into the problem, Anne discovers the chef’s assistant has been killed and the chef missing. When she starts investigating, she finds secrets kept for decades. On top of that, her ex husband makes a reappearance in her life.

Not your typical murder with lots of suspects lined up to be questioned. Much of the story was wondering where the chef was. From then on it was following one link after another, much of it very drawn out.


Anne Capshaw: worked as a bank teller, business manager at a restaurant (Bellywasher’s), divorced, brown eyes

Jim McDonald: owns and cooks at Bellywasher’s, Anne’s boyfriend, Scottish, mahogany colored hair, hazel eyes

Eve DeCatuer: hostess at Bellywasher’s, Anne’s friend, blue eyes, blonde hair, owns a Japanese terrier

Tyler Cooper: homicide investigator, former fiance of Eve’s, is engaged to be married to another cop, ice blue eyes

Peter Capshaw: Anne’s ex, brown eyes, teaches science, dark hair

Len Dean: teaches English, married

Raymond: over 6′, large build, 40s, works in IT, black, homosexual

Not too much physical descriptions of many of the characters. Here and there. Maybe because this is several books into the series but still, the reader needs to know what the main character looks like. A lot of the minor characters were given more description.


As for voices, Eve’s is best even though she tends to ramble. The problem with this is it only adds to the extra stuff not needed in the story and takes away from the mystery.


First person from Anne’s POV. One or two instances of mild profanity. Long sentences. The author has a habit of interrupting sentences with asides separated by dashes of parenthesis. It’s a mystery with the subgenre of a cooking mystery and while I have no problems with those, in this book I was past a third of the way through before Anne became serious about solving the mystery. Up until then, there were no suspects and very little investigative progress. The author spent way too much time on extemporaneous cooking stuff that took me away from the fact somebody was killed and the main characters kept wondering about a missing person but did almost nothing about.

Another difficulty I had was many sentences were difficult to read. I read this aloud because I was recording it for a friend who likes these types of mysteries. Many sentences were written in such a way that I stumbled over the phrasing. Some repetition of words, some unnecessary words, usually when Anne as narrator was trying to explain something.

(I scanned the crowd one more time, looking for Tyler and the other detectives who were there to assure Norman’s safety, and confident we were doing the right thing in the right way, I wiped any residual worry from my expression and turned toward where Norman was waiting in the wings.)

The above sentence is an example. Difficult to read because it’s so long.

An almost cliché bit from the bad guy who is either too dumb to understand a bit of physics or the author doesn’t understand that the amount of money mentioned would not go into a paper sack, unless it was a LARGE paper sack.

All in all, I wasn’t too impressed by this book.

My Rank:

Green Belt


Watch Them Die


By Kevin O’Brien




Hannah Doyle is being stalked. Somebody is recreating movie murders and wants Hannah to witness them. Several times she thinks of calling the police, but knows that if she does, she risks exposing a secret she ran from long ago. The killer, however, is unrelenting, and plans to make her the star of the next video.

A classic setup where the heroine can’t go to the police to relay the murders because to do so would place her in jeopardy because of what’s in her past. I like this type of plot, too, because as more people are killed, the books zeroes in on the killer and it becomes a challenge to figure out if I can figure out the twist…if there is one.


Hannah Doyle: 32, works at a video store, has a son, trim figure, blonde, scar on her chin, former actress in Chicago’s Second City Troupe, parents dead, former waitress

Joyce Bremner: Doyle’s babysitter, early 60s, dyed red hair, wears glasses

Tish: mid 40s, black, buxom, co-owner of a video store, homosexual

Paul Guletti: film class instructor, swarthy complexion, dark eyes, receding black hair, married

Craig Tollman: black, handsome, broad shoulders, short hair, drives a white Taurus, eployed as a web content director

A nice array of characters to keep the reader guessing. Who’s the killer? Who’s just an idiot? Who really cares?


Many instances of dialogue tags being along the lines of …she heard him say. Where the speaker is being heard from the POV of the character in the scene, usually Doyle. I guess I don’t mind it once or twice but when it becomes repetitive, my brain stutter-steps a moment and has to catch up because when I see ‘she’ I think Doyle has spoken when the other person actually has.


Some profanity. Being a reviewer of-too many-books that left me glad when I finished, I tend to notice weaknesses even in books by prolific writers. That’s okay, nobody’s perfect. This author could have tightened up in a few places. Unnecessary words (lifted up off the shelf…). Well, obviously you’re going to lift up. Lifted from the shelf would have worked. Nothing stood out as not working, just every now and then I caught some words that could have been different or sentences that might have sounded better in another fashion.

Still, a good suspense. The murder scenes aren’t graphic, just explained. Tension remains at a good simmer throughout.

My Rank:

Purple Belt


Quick Kick – Neck And Neck


By Leo Bruce




Lionel Townsend, Beef’s toffee-nosed biographer, finds himself a prime suspect when his aunt in Hastings is poisoned. At the same time, an unpopular publisher is found hanged in the Cotswolds, apparently a suicide. While the two cases seem to have nothing whatsoever in common, Sergeant Beef tramples his flatfooted way to amazing, simultaneous solutions.

My Analysis

Sometimes the old mysteries are a fine read. This one was pretty good. I wasn’t sure where it was going when Lionel and Beef seemed to drop one case and start in on another, but the two investigations connected, eventually.

This was one of those mysteries I think I may have picked up on a mass download of mysteries. I wasn’t disappointed and would enjoy another Beef story.

My Rank:

Purple Belt


For Whom The Minivan Rolls


By Jeffrey Cohen




A campaign manager goes missing one night and her wealthy husband hires Aaron Tucker to find her. Problem is, Tucker isn’t a private investigator or a police officer. He’s a freelance writer with dreams of being a successful screenwriter. The next problem is, the husband isn’t a big help in assisting Tucker. In fact, hardly anybody he talks with has any major revelation or solid clue onto which he can grab. But, somebody is noticing and doesn’t want Tucker to continue poking his nose into the case. What’s a writer to do?

Okay, most of the P.I. mystery stories (and who cares if the P.I. is a legitimate one or a chef, or a knitter, or a babysitter, or a house cleaner, etc.) have a crime and the P.I. talking with people and one clue leads to the next clue and on through the book.

This one is not like those others. In fact, this has more questions popping up in the first half of the book with no answers. Normally, I’d call it a dud and move on. Seriously, I’ve reached an age where the book had better grab me and keep hold for me to get through half with almost nothing. Well, there are a few clues, but, again, more questions than answers and nothing very solid. However…I didn’t stop reading this because this mystery is so goofy I had to get to the end. Okay? So, if you decide to read this (and I suggest you do), don’t get frustrated, just sit back and enjoy. Everything gets answered…with some surprises.


Aaron Tucker: 43, 5’4”, screenwriter, freelance reporter, married with children, drives a minivan, hates coffee, owns a Saturn

Gary Beckwirth: 46, around 6′, handsome, married with son, wealthy, blue-green eyes, dark brown hair worked for a brokerage firm

Milt Ladowski: 5’10”, attorney

Abigail Stein: Tucker’s wife, lawyer, short brown hair, large brown eyes, attractive

Barry Dutton: 44, black, police chief, 6′, married

Gerry Westbrook: police detective, over weight, thinning hair

Jeff Mahoney: Tucker’s friend, 6’3”, large build, car mechanic

Rachel Barlow: campaigning for mayor, tall, blonde, drives a Volvo

Martin Barlow: Rachel’s husband, teaches at the University, thin frame, pockmarked skin, deep eyes, drives a minivan, has a Ph.D in English Literature

Diane Woolworth: 50s, wealthy, teaches at the University

Jane Woolworth: 22, tattoos, 5’1”, Diane’s daughter

I don’t think the characters are very exceptional, however, it’s Tucker’s viewpoint and opinions of them that make them wonderful.


Of course Tucker’s voice comes through with cynicism and sarcasm throughout. Even when he’s in serious conversations there’s a touch of dry wit.


Book divided into titled Parts with each part beginning at Chapter 1. There is even and ‘Intermission’ between the parts. First person from Tucker’s POV. Short chapters.

Some profanity and okay, the ‘N’ word is used but not in an insulting manner.

Very good humor heavily laced throughout. Many movie/television references which adds familiarity and give the reader a connection to the situation. As mentioned above, there is a lot of Tucker running around not accomplishing much. There are one or two things scattered throughout. Normally I’d be bored out of my head, but I wasn’t. I wanted to see what he came up with next even if it wasn’t much because I knew that, in the end, it would be solved.

I don’t know if it was the formatting but there were was capitalization problems. Despite this I think this book deserves:

Blue Belt


Solving Cadence Moore

SCM Book Cover

By Gregory Sterner

Gregory Sterner Author Headshot



A decade old mystery of the disappearance of Cadence Moore, a college student and rising musician, is taken up by conspiracy theorist podcaster Charlie Marx. Through a series of broadcast transcriptions, the story is told of who Cadence was, the suspects involved, discussions regarding a documentary on the mystery, and the conclusions formulated by Charlie. Meanwhile, he’s deals with problems with a deadline from his boss, a doubting producer, and a pesky homicide investigator who may have the answer…or bring the downfall of Charlie’s career.

Okay, the plot was fine. Solve a cold case through podcasts and a radio show. However, this was completely different than what I expected.


Charlie Marx: podcaster and radio broadcaster

Tyler Reubens: Marx’s supervisor

Jamison Kelly: married with children

Matt Bridges: works for a record label

Darien Moor: Cadence’s father, son and wife dead, divorced

Darlene Bethany: 30, administrative director for an airport, married with children

William Mattingly: homicide investigator

Several more characters including Charlie’s producer Dillon and others associated with Cadence and the film project. The problems were: I didn’t get any physical descriptions other than Cadence’s. Dillon, Tyler, and William sounded similar when the conversations turned to profanity saturated arguments. Plus, Tyler must be the most tolerant of people and while he gave as well as he took, I think the line was crossed really early where Tyler should have fired Charlie for the language used. Nobody talks to his boss in that manner and still has a job. Those conversations weren’t believable.


As mentioned, profanity in spades. Long pieces of dialogue from one character followed by long pieces of dialogue from another character. Technically, most of the book was dialogue if you include the transcriptions of the broadcasts. A lot of repetitious dialogue between Charlie and Tyler and Charlie and Dillon about ‘you better have something good or else’ with a plethora of f-bombs. Long almost poetic dialogue during the broadcasts before the point of the entire ‘scene’. It was all too much.


The use of profanity, again, was too much. And how the FCC didn’t come down on the radio station after the final broadcast wasn’t mentioned, but it should have.

While the basic plot was fine, as mentioned, I don’t think using a series of podcasts and a final live radio broadcast worked for me. There was no tension. No real tension or danger (other than Charlie losing his job). All of the facts were laid out during the shows and it became one guest after another after another. Many of the interviews lasted too long and a couple didn’t add to the story.

I won’t play spoiler but the solution to the case was given about a hundred pages from the end and I wondered how the author was going to keep the story going. Well, through more lengthy conversations during which kept me thinking, “Get on with it!” Also repetitious ‘summary’ of everything that came before with the final moment of revelation being anti-climactic.

The concept of having a story through broadcasts would have been fine if there were other scenes outside the broadcasts and the long conversations between Charlie and Dillon/Tyler and some shorter repetitious scenes of Charlie drinking and writing don’t count. I’m not here to rewrite the story, but the story told in flashback scenes or shorter interviews with the players might have been better.

No grammar/punctuation/spelling problems, however, because of the issues I had with this book, I had to change the rank. I thought about camouflage, but I think needs to be at:

Yellow Belt


Screamcatcher: Web World

Screamcatcher-Web-World-Print(1)SW - Screamcatcher-Web-World-Generic

By Christy J. Breedlove

CHRIS's Best Photo



A teenager, still coping with the recent death of her parents, tries to have a night of fun with three of her friends. When a terrible storm arrives that night, they awake to find themselves in a mysterious world. Everything is black and white, houses are boarded up, and what people they do find are strange, belligerent, avoiding all strangers. They begin a journey through the South Dakota wilderness and Badlands in search of the answer. Can they survive the constant attack of creatures and monsters that are in their path…can they survive even themselves?

I thought it an interesting plot with some things that weren’t fully explained, or at least I didn’t fully understand them when explanations were given. I thought it fun and dangerous adventure story with everybody sticking to their assigned roles and developing throughout.


Jorlene ‘Jory’ Pike: 17, Chipewa, parents dead, drives a Jeep Cherokee

Choice Daniels: 18, drives a motorcycle, Black Irish

Albert Whitefeather Pike: Jory’s grandfather, owns a novelty shop

Darcy: 16, has a high school diploma, works as a dental assistant

Lander Cunningham: 18, mechanic

Pretty much this is the cast. A couple of bit players who show up for a scene. I didn’t get a mental image of anybody because physical descriptions were scant. Jory is the intelligent MC with the Indian lore within her. Choice is the male hero in love with Jory. Darcy plays the scared teen and Lander sort of fades away to become something else which, if explained, I didn’t quite comprehend.


Pretty consistent throughout. No wandering off. Scenes are succinct with good voices. Not much more to say about this because I didn’t find anything wrong. Conversations dealt with the subject at hand, no more, no less. A couple long explanations but nothing too bad.


Profanity that I felt was unnecessary in places. I thought this was going to be a book not quite in the young adult range, but older teen range and I thought the profanity was a bit excessive.

One minor point that is not a ratings killer but there is no period after Dr on Dr Pepper. Just something I caught because I enjoy the drink. Lol

All in all a good book. I didn’t find any grammar/punctuation/misspellings. No continuity issues. I was hoping the riddle near the end might have been given earlier with them solving pieces of it along the way. I thought the intelligence and ingenuity of Jory and Choice was pretty good. Darcy was the girl who needed to be given one of those movie slaps of shakes to get her head back in the game. As mentioned, I thought lander might add to the book with his mechanics knowledge but the author did something else with him that didn’t seem to do anything except raise questions.

I’m going with Green Belt because of these minor issues and questions, but it is a good read, nonetheless, and I enjoyed the adventure.


Sandman Slim 1


By Richard Kadrey




Life sucks and then you die. Or, if you’re James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles.

Now Stark’s back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you’d expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future.

Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse.

My Analysis:

When I downloaded some of these books, I wasn’t sure, much of the time, what I was getting. That premise holds true for this book. Kadrey throws you right into the story and the reader has to-almost-play catch-up. There are explanations about the magic and supernatural throughout, but Kadrey writes in a manner that expects reader to understand and comprehend and if not, then forget it.

He also throws a lot of characters at you and a nice twisty explanation near the end. This sets up the series and where it goes from here is anybody’s guess.

I’ll continue with this series and I enjoyed the narrator of the audio book. He helped keep me in the story.

There’s a lot going on with this book so be ready to be immersed deep and dark, with some wry amusing moments, too.

My Rank:

Purple Belt


Dead Center


By David Rosenfelt




Four and half months have passed since New Jersey attorney Andy Carpenter’s girlfriend left for Wisconsin. Now, Laurie Collins is calling to plead for assistance. As police chief, she’s arrested a suspect in a brutal double homicide, but doesn’t think the man did it. Andy takes the case and soon finds himself up against a town who is against him, a community of strange religious folk, and an internal battle with his emotions over Laurie.

A pretty good legal thriller with humor.


Andy Carpenter: 5’10”, attorney, owns a Golden Retriever, divorced, co-owns a dog rescue outfit, wealthy

Laurie Collins: 5’10”, acting police chief, Andy’s ex girlfriend, former P.I.,

Jeremy Alan Davidson: 21, attended a branch of the University of Wisconsin

Richard Davidson: Jeremy’s father, 6’2”, 160 pounds, black hair, has a sister

Calvin Marshall: attorney, late 50s, gray hair, missing left leg, thrice married, has one brother, Vietnam vet

Lester Chapman: prosecuting attorney, around 5′,

Matthew Morrison: just, sixties, 230 pounds, around 6’2”

Stephen Drummond: 60s, married with a son, went to Dartmouth and Harvard Law

Marcus Clark: private investigator, scary looking

I wish Marcus would have had a bit more involvement. His descriptions and actions are wonderful but he doesn’t show up enough for my taste. Otherwise this was a nice cast with just enough background info.


Being in first person and with the humor, only Andy’s voice is very distinctive. Well, Calvin’s does, too and he’s a pretty good talker. Other than Laurie, the others don’t have too long conversations.


First person from Andy’s POV. Written in present tense. Very nice humor. Just the right amount where you can really like Andy. Very little minor profanity. It’s not a ‘page turner’ but it keeps moving with the necessary attraction to keep you reading. I enjoy an enjoyable book if that makes sense. I think the humor in this one is the key. Otherwise it’d be a droll legal mystery.

My Rank:

Blue Belt