by James L. Rubart
Cameron Vaux is losing his memory. However, he remember his dying fathers words, that when the memory loss starts, Cameron should seek the Book of Days, a book that will solve his problems. Enlisting the assistant of his dead wife’s foster sister Ann Banister, he travels to Three Peaks, Oregon, where his father spent time as a youth, to begin his search. Ann, too, has ties to Three Peaks, through family. Unfortunately, they meet with resistance from many fronts. Why is everybody so hesitant to talk? What connection does the spiritual leader of a religious group have to Vaux’s quest? What forces seek to deny Vaux and Banister the truth?
I like quest stories, the hero or heroine or both after a treasure or knowledge. With the religious angle, I thought it would be something a little different.
Cameron Vaux: 25 in chapter 1, father dying in chapter 1, mom dead. Chapter 2 he is eight years older. Black hair, gray-blue eyes, deep voice, videographer, coaches Little League, wife dead, enjoys rock climbing even though he’s afraid of heights, drives a Mini Cooper,
Ann Banister: hosts a television show in Portland, Vaux’s wife foster sister, thought Vaux should have started a relationship with her, enjoys rock climbing, photographic memory
Kirk Gillum: thinning dirty blond hair, mayor of Three Peaks, Oregon, works in a hardware store
Arnold Peasley: spry, collects newspapers, a little peculiar, played basketball in high school
Susan Hillman: 57, librarian, short brown hair, had a son who died
Jason Judah: stand about 6’5”, 250 pounds, large build, curly thick dirty blond hair, leader of the Future Current ‘church’, served in Vietnam, smokes cigars
Taylor Stone: tall, graying black goatee and matching hair, brown eyes, played basketball with Peasley in school, retired from the town newspaper, both his wife and he are on their second marriage, wears glasses, enjoys fly fishing, was mayor of Three Peaks a few times
Everybody has secrets. For most of the book, though, the characters are skimmed over. Surface stuff. I know the focus is to be on Cameron and Ann and they’re all right but I would have like to have seen more depth in the others people.
Pretty good voices. However, as I detail in the next section, conversations were similar and went nowhere.
While this is an adventure story, a quest, it is layered with Christianity, as are all of Rubart’s novels. No profanity. A lot of flashbacks. The major problem I had with this books is part of me went, “Get on with it already!” There are several meetings with Ann and two or three people and Vaux and two or three people, sometimes the same two or three people and each time is a this-doesn’t-go-anywhere scene. Questions are asked and no real answers are given. By the midway point in the book, I wanted to either give up or skip ahead to some real meat. I don’t mind books that tease and hint, but for heaven’s sake give me something other than the same characters entering the scene, saying hello, no answering the relevant questions or being forthcoming with clues, then leaving. There is a little suspense in the bad guy scenes but they’re short. A quest has to go somewhere, lead somewhere, lay out clues along the way, not just the same non-stuff over and over. And when Cameron and Ann are not getting answers they’re wasting time rock climbing. Cameron only scheduled so much time for this, but he spends a lot of it on the sides of mountains. The flashbacks became a bit old after awhile because they all related to the same thing: Cameron’s wife hinting she had an experience with the book. After three flashbacks, it was enough. The expected development of the romance between Cameron and Ann was also slow. With this type of book, I don’t expect instant passion and sex, but move it along. I’m not dissing the religious aspect, I don’t mind that, I’ve read religious fiction before. However, I was hyped to read something exciting with a bit of a thrill and I was disappointed.
By Ammar Habib & Glenda Mendoza
Ana Rocha is a Houston narcotics undercover officer. She’s wanted this job for a long time, because years before, her sister died at the hands of drive by drug dealers. She’s on the job to capture dealers. The longer she does her job, the more dangerous it becomes. Yet lurking out there is the answer to who was behind her sister’s death. When she discovers connections, will she be able to survive the experience?
For the most part, the plot is fine. The issue I had was I knew that she was looking for answers to her sister’s death. That’s a given. But I would have liked more of that story and her finding those clues or evidence to be sprinkled throughout. Rather, it went along with her doing her job and it’s not until later that any connection is made. The mystery would have been better if spread out more.
Ana Rocha: 22, Latino, Undercover officer in narcotics, sister dead, has brother, black hair.
Captain Scott: Ana’s boss
Bryan Fulton: Ana’s partner, tall, 30s, married w/son
Victor M. Nelson: 40, part of a criminal organization, 6’0, 230 lbs, bald, scar on right cheek, russet eyes
Several characters but this story lacked deep relationships. Yes, Ana has issues with her family and that’s fine. She develops a friendship and working relationship with her partner and that’s fine. But we really don’t see her with other officers too much or her boss or friends. There was a bit of scratching below the surface for her and Bryan, but not much else.
Fine. One of two places where tag lines are really action words and not verbal tags. Some distinct voices.
Titled chapters. A few instances of profanity. Present tense from Ana’s POV
One of the problems with present tense is the ‘to be’ word ‘is’ and has. A lot of times it gets paired with ‘ing’ words which become old and passive and lengthen time. Many times the verb, the action word could have been used with an ‘s’ to denote present tense. For example (and this is not specifically in the story but only as an example): My hand is hurting. As opposed to My hand hurts. The second is better.
A few misspelled words. The baddie’s name is Thorne in most places but Throne in one.
I’m not sure about the way this was set up. There was no background on Ana and her police career. I didn’t see anything mentioned, but the way this was written it sounded as if Ana applied to a job with Narcotics and joined right up. I didn’t hear about any training or her on patrol before she advanced into the narcotics division. This is missing. I mention this because some of the things she did at the beginning on her first few outings may not have happened because she would have learned not to do those things from patrol and being on the streets. Maybe I missed something, but I didn’t see previous cop experience.
The major problem with the writing were the ‘ly’ adverbs. Used, abused, overused, and repeated to the point of frustration, especially in action scenes. Violently, Forcefully, Powerfully, Commandingly (which I’m not sure is an actual word), Slightly, Lightly, Instinctively, Quickly.
I cringed and winced in agony when I saw the repetition of three or four within the same action scene. And some of the adverbs just didn’t work or fit at the time. The scene and the action need to describe themselves. The ‘ly’ words just detract and show weak writing.
The climax, while action-packed (with a plethora of the aforementioned adverbs), was disappointing in that I expected more from the baddie. It was a major letdown, for me, after seeing everything beforehand.
Because of the issues I had with this book, I have to go with the rank of:
By R Weir
P.I. Jarvis Mann is back with not one, not two, but three cases in one. First up, he’s hired by his ex-girlfriends father to track down a serial killer who’s been absent for 22 years, but has recently started slaughtering women. Or is he? Is the killer the suspected individual from two decades ago? A copycat? Just when he’s getting started on that, he’s hired by a friend to track down a weapons dealer who killed said friends family. As if that couldn’t keep him busy enough, a couple Asians drop by wanting Mann to track down a Russian the P.I. knows. Can Mann survive all of these cases? Or has he jumped in the deep end without no life preserver? Tracking down clues and following leads, Mann bounces from Colorado to California and back again. Oh, and getting a little romance and resurrecting some old emotions.
Okay, my epub version was 431 pages and I wondered how is Weir going to fill this many pages without letting it drag. Well, unfortunately, when one tries to have too many stories going on, at least one tends to get the short end of the stick. The Asian case drew the short straw this time…sort of. There’s a connection with some events that happen to Mann that tie into the Asian vs Russian assignment. It’s not too bad of a way to keep things connected.
The main case is the serial killer. The weapons dealer case gets some attention and wraps up pretty well…sort of. The author left it open for a possible ‘next chapter’ where Mann could possibly be involved if it works out that way.
Anyway, I liked the plot(s) and the author laid it out pretty well, with plenty of action and intrigue, some sarcasm, humor, and sex.
Jarvis Mann: P.I., 6’, parents and brother dead, owns a Harley and a Mustang
Jonas Diaz: late 50s, married w/daughter, slender, gray thin hair, freelance writer
Doris Zahn: brown/gray hair, profiler, widow
Simon Lions: suffered a stroke, black/gray thin hair
Then there is the FBI agent who can’t seem to not be mad all the time, Mann’s friend Rocky, a black guy named Wolfe who’s not one to mess with, April who is Mann’s current girlfriend, Melissa who is Mann’s ex-gf.
All the characters are pretty good and well written. Weir did some nice work with Lions and how he says and doesn’t say things.
Good voices. As mentioned above, the dialogues between Lions and Mann are well written with just enough frustration on Mann’s part to keep the reader guessing.
There were some problems on tag lines with capitalization and punctuation.
All of the characters, at various times have a habit of speaking without contractions and it gets me every time. One, maybe two might work.
Profanity. 1st person from Mann’s POV except a few times with the third person POV of the killer. Also a problem of POV ‘head-hopping’ in one scene between the killer and one of his victim. The POV kept switching, which threw me.
Other than those mentioned, the writing was clean. The book, for the most part, was well balanced between P.I. legwork with interviews and action. Mann doesn’t come out of this without some beatings and worse, but I won’t play spoiler.
I like a good old fashioned hard-nosed investigator and Weir has written a complex, intricate, multi-faceted web of a mystery. Settle in for a spell of reading (431 pages. I mean, really! Lol).
Oh, and before you read this one, you might want to read his others. This one, for the most part, stands alone, and if this had been my first book, it would have been okay, but it does refer to events in previous books.
So, another Mann mystery in the can and one wonders what comes next.
By Jackson Baer
Peyton Hamilton is haunted. Not only is she faced with the slaughter of her parents and siblings, she is under vicious mental and physical attacks from an unknown ‘force’, she can only term a shadow. After her family’s death, she moves to Connecticut to live with her aunt, start a new job, get ready for college, and developing relationships. However, she cannot escape the lingering shadow and when it wants to exact its will and power, will Peyton be able to cope?
I’m not sure what to make of this plot. The way it was presented was somewhat strange, confusing, and I wasn’t sure where it was going to go. I guess I’ll leave it at that. I’m wasn’t sure and after completing it, I am still not sure. Let me delve into some of the aspects in the following sections.
Peyton Hamilton: 18, family dead, petite frame, 5’6”, light brown hair, green eyes, 120 lbs., drives a Jeep
Charity: 34, Peyton’s paternal aunt, 5/5”, 130 lbs, blonde, blue eyes, author, newspaper editor, drives a ‘57 Chevy
Clare: restaurant owner, 35
Daniel Bonadio: 21, light brown eyes
Luke Parsons: 36, owns a white Chevy Silverado and a black Porsche, former baseball player
Each of the characters are distinctive, have a personality all their own. Some interesting background info on most of them
Let’s take the areas of concern starting with Charity. For the most part, she’s fun loving, easy going. However, when Peyton’s behavior shows some drastic moments of oddity or outright changes, Charity doesn’t seem all that concerned. At one point, Peyton goes off on a profanity rant and Charity doesn’t act (or isn’t shown to act) all that shocked.
Peyton – the way the story is laid out and how and when information is given on the characters made me wonder about the behavior. Peyton, especially. Without playing too much spoiler, The time at the beginning is around August, middle/end thereabouts. At least I think so. The previous New Year’s Eve, Peyton was raped and her family was uncaring and mentally abusive afterward. That part was fine as it was presented. However, it was given after several scenes (again in August) where Peyton had met and was attracted to two men. And started dating them. I would think after that traumatic experience, even after 8-9 months, she would be wary of anybody paying attention to her and hitting on her. Especially with her being haunted by the shadow force who interrupts the dates. Later, even though at one point she says she’s through with both, thinking they’re just after sex, she continues dating them…and having sex with them. Doesn’t make sense. Maybe it was her personality change but it was very confusing.
Fine except when Peyton gets rolling on the profanity, it’s a bit overdone.
Titled chapters. Profanity. One or two misspelled words.
Minor stuff includes a bit of overwriting: She stood to her feet. Where else is she to stand to? She stood is sufficient.
The author uses ‘the girls’ a few too many times when speaking about Charity and Petyon and sometimes Clare. Charity is not a girl and so the phrase didn’t fit and made Charity seem younger than what she was.
The chapter discussing the outcome of the main suspect felt like filler and could have been summed up quicker.
POV is generally omnipresent but oft times it goes into Peyton’s head and I wish it could have stayed there. I’m not a big fan of omnipresent.
Time problem: on a date w/Luke, he says that next week is Thanksgiving. A subsequent chapter says it’s the first of November and it’s not a flashback.
My biggest issue was with this supernatural shadow force who pops up at various times, speaks to various characters, is seen by various characters and can physically affect them. I thought it was something mentally manifested by Peyton to torment her and her actions and her thoughts. However, Charity also is plagued by the shadow.
I was confused by Peyton’s attitude. She is terrified by the shadow, but this terror is combined, depending on the scene, with longing for the shadow and anger at the shadow. I didn’t understand why she hated it in one scene and couldn’t wait for it to show again in another. It would have been chalked up to insanity except that other characters saw/heard it, too.
The climax was a hodge-podge of attacks and blood and deaths and supposed deaths.
No spoilers, but I figured out the murderer of Peyton’s family long before it was revealed. That I did understand.
I guess it was interesting to see the deterioration of Peyton throughout, but, as I’ve said, it was a bit confusing at various times.
By Mary Miley
1924. Leah is a longtime Vaudeville actress whose life is about to change. She looks just like Jesse Carr, a missing heiress from Oregon, and the uncle of the girl has come to offer Leah a deal: come back to Oregon and impersonate the missing girl and share a fortune. When circumstances in the Vaudeville circuit turn against her, Leah accepts the deal. She has a lot of people to convince, some of them very unhappy about the return of a family member and the potential loss of a lot of money. The plans to inherit are fraught with problems, dangers, and death. What really happened to Jess seven years earlier? Who knows the truth and what lengths will some people go to secure wealth?
This plot has been seen many times, but I haven’t read a book quite like this one. First off, I’m always a little wary of stories that occur in the past. I just don’t care for them. I enjoy present day mysteries, or at the most, those that are set within the last couple decades. Now, I will admit that I’ve read a lot of period stories and so far I’ve enjoyed them. This one set in the era of Prohibition is a good one because the author has to remember all the intricacies of the year, the technology, the culture, etc. The extra feature of murders adds the needed attraction.
Oliver Beckett: fifties, thinning hair, fat, Vandyke beard, niece disappeared when she was 14, mother still living, sister and brother both dead
Leah: twenties, vaudeville actress, mother died when Leah was child, father left before her birth, auburn hair, freckles, blue-green eyes, has used various first names and surnames
Henry Carr: three siblings, tall, strong, handsome, athletic as a youth, body turning stocky, liked politics and sailing as a youth, attended Stanford, wants to be in the state legislature, smug
Ross Carr: Henry’s younger brother, 21, wears glasses, dark curly hair, green eyes, thin face, short, attends Stanford, wants to be an academician, suffers from asthma
Buster: stable hand, simple-minded, tall, muscular, missing some teeth, voice low and slow
Benny Kubelsky: plays vaudeville, plays violin, comedian, later changed his name to Jack Benny
Truthfully, these are expected characters, but that doesn’t make them any less worthy. I enjoyed the fact that each had a distinct personality that I could recognize with each scene. Each character, even the minor ones, stood out. And of course, bringing in real people or name dropping real people adds to the fun.
Voices are distinct enough because the characters stand out pretty well. No conversation veered off track. The important material was conveyed.
First person from Leah’s POV. Varying lengths of chapters. The set up to the impersonation went pretty fast. From then on, it was Leah’s challenges and adapting to the new world with a homesickness for the vaudeville scene. ‘Bastard’ and ‘damn’ are the most profanity used. Action was mildly tense but enough to keep interest. The mixing of fact (using real locales, events, and people) and fiction was the key to this book’s success. This won a First Crime Novel award and though I didn’t know the others in the running, this one probably deserved to win.
by Carl Hiaasen
Noah Underwood’s dad is in trouble with the law…again. This time for sinking a gambling boat in the Florida Keys that may be dumping waste into the Gulf. But Noah decides to take up the charge and prove his father was right. He enlists the aid of his sister and the girlfriend of a former employee of the gambling boat. But Noah is up against more than just gathering evidence. The son of the boat owner has a dislike for Noah. Noah’s mother is considering a divorce. And who is the stranger lurking around…saving Noah and his sister from trouble?
I didn’t realize this was a Young Adult novel until I did some investigating. I saw the author’s name and thought this would be another fun adventure. And actually it turned out to be pretty good. A simple plot, but lots to work with.
Noah Underwood: teen, was born on the highway, has a sister, dad drives a taxi but was a fishing guide and has been in trouble with the law many times, rides a bike, mother works at law firm
Dusty Muleman: owns a gambling boat, smokes Cuban cigars, has a son
Lice Peeking: 29, smokes, drinks, worked on Muleman’s casino boat, lost his driver’s license, has a girlfriend, lives in a trailer park
I guess I should also include Abbie, Noah’s sister, and Shelly, the girlfriend of Peeking’s since they feature prominently throughout. I liked Shelly the best. Dusty’s son is a bully and I would have liked to have seen more scenes with Dusty since he was the bad guy.
Not too bad for voices. Again, I noticed Shelly’s the best I think the conversations stayed on point and didn’t stray too far from the plot. YA dialogue stays pretty basic.
First person from Noah’s POV. ‘Bastard’ is the only use of profanity. Hiaasen handles the matters of alcoholism and divorce pretty well. The action is mildy intense but with YA there isn’t much shoot ’em up and body count. I thought the solution to the problem was good but the climax came way too early. Then it was a lot of explanation of the stranger and the wrapping up of the story. Still an enjoyable read. Or listen as I have the audio version.
By Toletha J. Dixon
Riya Jordan and her friends are off to the Brazilian jungle after graduation to join a Save the World group. Soon after arriving, some members of the group are killed and the survivors are forced to flee for their lives. To escape, they have to cross a bridge…but instead are trapped between two hopeless situations.
The short story is a lot of back story mixed with the current situation. Maybe in a longer story this would work, but for me, in this story, it didn’t. Not enough tension for the present situation was shown and the back story only added a lot-not always, but a lot-of irrelevant information.
Carlito: 44, former farmer and former drug producer
Riya Jordan: 18, dad dead
Karen Meyers: 18, drives a blue Malibu
Chase Prince: 16
Luis De Sousa: muscular, married
Larry Maverick: 56, president of Salvor O Mundo, tall, slim
And more characters. Too many for this short story. Too many to adequately have development. Stick with one or two. Heck, there were even two jaguars who had names and scenes and internal thoughts. Again, this didn’t work for me.
Typical older teen stuff. Not much dialogue, but okay nonetheless. Tags on dialogue where it’s: said Riya, asked the man, the said and asked should not be capitalized.
Profanity. Tense problems, a couple punctuation and capitalization errors.
The narration was 3rd person distant but every so often the narrator would say ‘you’. As in: If not careful, you could fall in the river. (Not an actual sentence in the book, just an example of the type that showed up).
Otherwise, what didn’t work for me was that the people are trapped on this bridge and there are different scenes of back story. Not much tension with the danger on the bridge.
Here’s something that just didn’t seem believable. This bridge was too dangerous to cross to the far end to get away from the danger because the ropes were unraveling and some of the boards had fallen away. Apparently, though, it was safe enough to hold the weight of several people for what seemed like hours and then also a large feline. A bit of a stretch of the imagination.
36 pages in my epub version, so a quick read.
By Antwan Floyd Sr.
Black Love is thinking about becoming a private investigator. He accepts a case to find a police detective’s missing daughter. Then he discovers a pattern of missing girls. Then an old friend, fresh out of prison, shows up with more trouble. Can Love keep everything straight…and keep his romantic entanglements from knotting up his life?
I enjoyed the relationship angles of this book. However, the title of the book didn’t play into the majority of the plot. A bit at the beginning, but the track down of the missing girls and the cannibals didn’t really start until near the end. This spent too much time on an improbable investigation and a subplot that also didn’t seem quite…believable.
Black Love: former Illinois District Attorney, 5’3”
Charles Tyner: 21, black, curly hair, dad is a senator
Avery: Tyner’s common law wife, drives a grey Acura Nsx, tan, brunette, freckles
Trigger Brown: Black, Love’s girlfriend, amateur MMA fighter, building contractor, 5’5”, curly hair, 145 lbs.
Jon Edwards: police investigator, married with daughter
Parker Harris: 6’5”, 200 lbs, black, receding hair line, ex con, suffered a mild stroke
Varied characters which makes for distinctive personalities. My main question throughout the book was: What is Love’s profession? He wants to be a PI, but somehow has enough money to get through this story without being paid by anybody. This question isn’t answered. Edwards became a bit upset by the questions he was asked…which he himself might have asked other parents. Plus, I think it was out of character for a cop to hire a citizen not yet licensed as a PI to find his daughter.
Nice cultural speaking from the characters. Good inner city, ‘black’ give and take. However, tags were written incorrectly. The punctuation was incorrect a lot and …” He said. is incorrect. Don’t capitalize ‘he’.
Profanity, but not too much. Relatively short chapters.
The problem with this book was a plethora of mistakes. Weak writing, misspelled words, incorrect words, punctuation problems. The last problem resulted in incomplete or run on sentences, some of which lost their way and sense. I had difficulty ferreting out the meaning. Many sentences start with one character, then runs on and then mentions ‘he’ but the ‘he’ is another character. This made for a difficult read, especially in the fight scenes.
Wrong words: weary when I think the word meant was wary.
Wrong words: I was amused by constant use of prescient for precinct. “I left my car at the prescient.”
Continuity problem: Trigger tells Love that Edwards’ daughter is thirteen. Then, when talking to Edwards, the investigator says the daughter is preteen. Then, when found, the daughter is fifteen. I don’t recall any reference to the daughter being gone two or more years.
Tense problems. POV problems.
Once Edwards is named as a Detective, there is no need to keep calling him Detective Edwards every time he’s named.
The opening scene is in the present. Then the story goes back a couple days to lead the reader up to why Love is in the situation. Near the end, the opening scene is repeated almost word for word.
This story could have been longer to include more scenes with the bad guys. As mentioned above, the main mystery, supposedly the cannibals, didn’t really come into play until the end. I thought the resolution of Parker’s problem was a bit non-believable. The missing daughter thing ended with no explanation of why she disappeared in the first place and no mention of aftermath.
By Joanne Fluke
Life in tiny Lake Eden, Minnesota, is usually pleasantly uneventful. But with the upcoming trial for her involvement in a tragic accident, Hannah Swensen hardly has time to think about her bakery–let alone the town’s most recent murder. . .
Hannah is eager to clear her name once and for all, but her troubles only double when she finds the judge bludgeoned to death with his own gavel–and Hannah is the number one suspect. Now on trial in the court of public opinion, she sets out in search of the culprit and discovers that the judge made more than a few enemies during his career. With time running out, Hannah will have to whip up her most clever recipe yet to find a killer more elusive than the perfect brownie. . .
Cozy murder mystery. Part of a series for the baking crowd.
I have enjoyed other niche cozies but this one got on my nerves.
First, the audio book I listened to was seven CDs long. Hannah didn’t find the body until about the 2-1/2 mark. She spends the first part of the book at her mother’s wedding and I kept thinking they were going to kill off the groom or her old/new love interest but when everybody arrived home, I was thinking, “Get on with it. Kill someone.”
Second, I realize that the gimmick is for the author/Hannah to include food at every opportunity and then to give the recipe. Fine, but that became old, too, especially when I was waiting around for the dead body to show up. Plus, if she said “…with your impeccably clean hands.” one more time…
Third, the solution to the mystery was almost parallel with a newbie author putting a ghost in at the end to save the day when the ghost wasn’t mentioned anywhere else in the book. Hannah interviews all of the suspects, then in one scene mentions she’s cleared everyone. Then a not too much later scene has the real murderer introduced. And this is long into the book. Because of this, the evil-ness during the climactic scene wasn’t strong enough to be exciting because the person wasn’t shown earlier. And-sorry to play a bit of a spoiler here-Hannah didn’t even catch the killer herself.
by KM Rockwood
Just trying to make his life the best he can after being in prison for close to twenty years, Jesse Damon has found a good job at a steel fabrication plant. Unfortunately, he runs afoul of a murder and the cops eye him as the number one suspect. When the detectives in charge of the investigation just won’t seem to let him be, Damon decides he needs to find the real killer. In the process he becomes involved with the dead man’s wife and kids, a co-worker and her children, and various suspicious individuals, some of whom seem to think Damon might want to continue in whatever shady deal the murdered man had going.
A fairly attractive story idea. Goo potential. A lot of room for troubles to follow.
Jesse Damon: 36, dark brown curly hair, was in prison after giving an Alfrod plea for murder, possession of a handgun during a felony, and conspiracy at age 16, on parole, wears an ankle bracelet, works as a machine operator at Quality Steel Fabrications, lives in a basement apartment, scar on right hand, has two brothers, mother died when he was a baby, was in foster care while his dad was in prison, has a juvenile record
Kelly: works in the shipping department at the plant but fills in on the forklift when needed, dark brown hair, her dad has been in out of prison, solid build, divorced with children
Belkins: detective, sour breath, thick fingers, had a daughter who was kidnapped, tortured, and killed by an ex convict, divorced
Sterling Radman: plant manager, slender fingers, thick silver hair
Some characters don’t have last names. A good mix though and Jesse stands out. He’s believable as the ex-con trying to develop a life outside prison. He knows the game, tries to obey the rules and knows with one mistake, the cops can send him back to prison.
Incorrect grammar in a lot of conversations, lazy English, done on purpose and it fits with the characters. Good voices.
First person from Damon’s POV. I felt the time of year, Christmas, with snow and cloudy sky worked well with setting the mood of the story. The scenes and characters all fit under this umbrella of a somber, sober, struggling mood. It’s not dark in the scary way, just veiled. Some profanity but not much. I thought there might be more amateur detective material from Damon. His involvement with the victim’s kids seemed a little long and didn’t really add anything substantive to the mystery other than show the bad guy character of the dead man. His growing relationship with one of his coworkers, I thought was a little rushed. It would have been nice to have it stretch out for more than one book. Still good atmosphere, pretty tight writing, and Rockwood is knowledgable in knowing the steel fabrication business. No action-packed, shoot ’em up scenes and the climax was subdued. I’m giving this a lower rank than I originally intended, but don’t want to seem like it was a bad story. The author has a potentially good series here and maybe the second one can have some more spice to it.