Tracking A Shadow

Final_Design_Web

By R. Weir

SONY DSC

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MQHVKJA

Plot

Denver private investigator Jarvis Mann accepts an assignment from consultant Emily White to track down a stalker. There are several suspects including an ex husband and a former coworker. The intrigue grows when a construction boss with suspected ties to the mob enters the picture.

Pretty standard fare with the expecting twists and turns and lies and falsehoods. As I’ve written before, I don’t care if the plot has been done countless times, if it’s a good story it can still be enjoyable.

Characters

Jarvis Mann: private investigator, owns a 1969 Mustang, athletic build, 6′, 180 pounds, has had martial arts training, grew up in West Des Moines (bonus points! Lol), studied criminology at Denver University, worked security, parents dead, has an older brother

Emily White: divorced, 30s, long brown-blonde hair, blue eyes, works for a retail consulting firm, drives a BMW

Tony Bristol: Emily’ lawyer, 6’2”, slender, short brown hair with gray temples

Mark Remington: Emily’s ex husband, has a sister, worked in construction, curly blond hair, dark brown eyes, played football and baseball in high school and college, parents dead, left handed

Rickie Ward: Emily’s former co-worker, 5’9”, slender, brown-red hair, works for a consulting firm

Brandon Sparks: owns Sparks Builders, 6’2”, 250 pounds, 50s, flat face, nose scars, short graying auburn hair

A nice cast with some expected good guys and bad guys and minor characters. Some good descriptions on most…except for Jarvis. Other than his build I didn’t get a picture of his looks. The author put in enough characters to make the story complex without it getting confusing.

I did roll my eyes in disbelief at one minor character (and I’m not playing spoiler here) who needed to go to the bathroom. However, there were people with guns in the bathroom and when she sees the weapons she asks how long the people and their situation was going to last because she had to really pee. She acted like those with the guns were having a discussion about a broken toilet. A normal person would either scream (as with the previous lady in the restroom) or run away.

Dialogue

I wasn’t too sure about the dialogue. Many conversations seemed just a bit off. I know authors don’t write exactly how people actually talk, but there has to be a natural-ness to conversations and many in this story are a shade or two off. I noticed this in the first conversation between Emily and Jarvis. For a woman who has gone through a stalking incident before her emotions, words, and manner didn’t reflect the expected concern or fear. The initial meeting sounded more like a business discussion instead of a woman afraid of another stalker. There were other conversations akin to this. Some of the characters just didn’t sound like I would have expected. Sometimes that’s okay but others I question.

Part of the problem is that many characters don’t use contractions when they ought to. Again, sometimes that’s okay but other times the sentence sounds stilted and too formal for the tone of the conversation.

I didn’t hear very many distinctive voices. They all sound like I mentioned above. A couple characters use the phrase ‘clean his clock’ or ‘clean your clock’, which I don’t think anybody says anymore and is too cliché to be used by two people.

Many characters, at one point, speak for a lengthy period. Line after line with no breaks either in explanation or pleading. Again, not the way normal people speak.

Writing

First person from Mann’s POV. Some profanity.

The only slow(er) parts of the story were: A) the party scene. I didn’t care for the extensive info/conversation with the number of guests included. B) the stakeout scene about 80% of the way through. Sometimes the kind of music a P.I. listens to adds to the story and character but in this one I didn’t care. I was more interested in Mann’s thoughts about the case and if figured out something.

My Rank:

Green Belt

Green

Swan Deception

Swan Deception_A psychological thriller_400x638

By Glede Kabongo

Author Photo_Glede Kabongo_b&w

http://www.gledekabongo.com

Plot

Shelby Cooper has a past she’d like to keep hidden. Of course, it won’t be. Her troubles begin when she tries to help a friend disappear from a bad marriage. Said friend ends up dead in her automobile trunk. Shelby is arrested for murder. Her husband, Jason, takes steps to prove her innocence. The troubles aren’t over for her family as her daughter, Abbie, has to contend with a stalker and Jason has problems with a coworker. Oh, and let’s not forget about Jason’s past.

A lot going on here. Some interesting sidelines, but a concern I had was it jumped right into matters with hardly any set up. Sometimes that works but I felt like I do when I watch many British mysteries…as if I’ve come in part way into the story and should already understand what is happening.

Characters

Shelby Durant Cooper: 40, black, has a doctorate, large eyes, works in bioinformatics, drives a Mercedes, owns a motorcycle, owns a Golden Retriever, attended Duke and Johns Hopkins, has a brother

Jason Cooper: black, Shelby’s husband, handsome, CFO for Orphion Technologies, father worked for a brokerage firm, has a sister, attended Duke and Texas University

Abbie Cooper: 15, Shelby’s daughter, black hair

Miles Cooper: 11, Shelby’s son

Andrew Clarke: banker, volunteer fireman, large frame, married

Mia Lansing: black, blonde, wears colored contacts, smokes electronic cigarettes, freckles

Greg Marr: co-founder of Bryant International, fit, tanned, salt and pepper hair

Dr. Singer: psychiatrist, attended Harvard, mostly white hair, married with children, owns a dog

Tom Bilko: private investigator, former cop, 6’5”, large arms

Vivian March: Shelby’s friend, thin, art consultant, attended the Art Institute of Chicago

Rayne Revington: 20s, bachelor’s in education, taught kindergarten, brown eyes

Shelby has a stalker who’s making over threats and she acts like she’s a former covert agent. Yes, she’s fearful, but her actions match a professional operative rather than a research assistant/mother. That’s fine, but the reader needs to know that she’s been an operative at the outset. Otherwise, the character comes off as not believable.

Dialogue

The first couple of conversations between Shelby and the bad guy didn’t seem right. Yes, Shelby has a range of emotions because of these conversations, but it’s not exhibited in the dialogue, especially the first encounter. I didn’t see the fear and confusion.

Abbie doesn’t sound fifteen at times, but several years older.

Some of the dialogue sounds forced.

Writing

Book divided up into title Parts. Part of the story is first person from Shelby’s POV. Other parts are third person. Relatively short chapters. Profanity. Written in present tense from Shelby’s POV, past tense when it’s third person. One or two times the tense gets switched within one part.

One of the problems I had with the story is the secondary plot regarding one of Shelby’s friends and her efforts to help him and his daughters disappear. The situation is introduced almost as if the reader should know everything about it. There is very little background information. Again, the way Shelby reacts doesn’t fit her character. How would she know to arrange the things she arranges? Plus, the reason for the disappearance isn’t explained. There’s spousal abuse, but I wouldn’t think that would necessarily warrant a trip abroad. Plus, it’s later revealed the guy was going back to his home country, which would be an obvious choice if anybody cared to investigate.

Continuity error: Abbie blocks a boy from texting her on her cell phone and doesn’t reverse the action. Yet days later she receives a text from him.

Some grammar and punctuations errors.

I mentioned some subplots above and I wonder if there aren’t too many. This reads like a soap opera with connections spider-webbing off. This gets complex but there was enough to keep me interested.

My Rank:

Green Belt

Green

Murder, Mayhem, And Bliss

Murder,Mayhem and Bliss- Amz - ebook

By Loulou Harrington

yellow hat-1

www.loulouharrington.com

Plot

Auto dealership bigwig Harold Kerr is found dead in his pool. Of course the wife, Bliss, is the first suspect in what turns out to be murder. She’s also part of a wealthy family in the oil business that includes her great aunt Vivian Windsor. Vivian and Jesselyn Camden, partner in a tea room/coffee shop, and other members of an impromptu ‘garden club’ will try to solve the mystery. And there are several suspects: Harold’s former business partner; someone connected to a nude photo of one of Harold’s affairs; jealous exes.

Nice small town murder in a small town atmosphere. The amateur detective (or in this case, detectives) vs the cops who just want them to leave things alone. But, of course, they never do. A nice plot that doesn’t get to complex.

Characters

Jesselyn Camden: 50, operates a tea room/coffee shop and an antique shop, shoulder length light brown/blonde hair, green eyes, drives an old pickup, divorced

Sophia Camden: 69, Jesselyn’s mother, cook and helps with the shops, green eyes, white blonde

Bliss Windsor Kerr: brown eyes, parents dead

Vivian Windsor: Bliss’ great aunt, family is in the oil business, husband dead, wheat blonde hair, son died in an auto accident

Joe Tyler: sheriff, deep voice, drives a pickup

Arnie Holt: county medical examiner

SueAnn Bailey: waitress, 19, redhead, freckled

Bill Marshall: former partner in Harold Kerr’s dealership, drives a black Cadillac

Cindilee Marshall: Bill’s wife, wheelchair bound, blue eyes

Maria Ortiz: administrative assistant at the dealership, dark brown eyes, has a degree in business, drives a red convertible Mustang

I know, I know. Jesse is the main character, but I loved Vivian. She stood out so well. I enjoyed at the beginning how her southern charm and grand dame attitude is roughened when everybody just walks right into her house without calling first. Then when she got her spunkiness (if I can create a word here) up I just wanted more.

I guess Jesse came across as younger than fifty for some reason.

Dialogue

Some overuse of ‘ing’ and ‘ly’ words in tag lines. Some pretty good voices. Vivian’s and SueAnn’s come through well as does the gruff, exasperated sheriff.

Writing

Profanity. A few punctuation errors.

Two questions that I had that seemed to have gotten bypassed. 1. Jesse’s mother was anxious that Jesse get downstairs to help in the coffee shop on the morning of the first day. Then Jesse leaves to go to Vivian’s soon afterward. Then Sophia shows up. The question is: Who’s minding the store? I suppose if the time was after three, it would have been closed for the day.

2. Alcohol plays a role in this story and when a bunch of the women are at Vivian’s they go through, what I think was, a fair amount of daiquiris. The question is: Did nobody see anything wrong with two of them driving home?

However, those were just a couple of questions that don’t really take down the story, just stuff I caught.

I really enjoyed the southern-type life, the very light humor. Other than a few minor errors, it’s very clean and tight. There is real potential here for a good series. With the number of members in the club, there are scads of possible angles for future murder mysteries.

My Rank:

Purple Belt

Purple

The Hunt For The Dingo

cover

By P. J. Nash

author

http://www.amazon.com/Hunt-Dingo-P-J-Nash/dp/0992938740/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415453046&sr=8-1&keywords=the+hunt+for+the+dingo

Plot

Years ago a serial killer dubbed the Dingo, terrorized the Northern Territory of Australia.

On a routine investigation a Constable discovers the body of a young woman with the same signatures as the other victims. Is the Dingo back? Lawrence James, ex British cop and top investigator, is called in. With the help of Jesse Sanders, a criminal psychologist, and an ex reporter, he’ll sort through previous cases and current evidence to track down a murderer.

However, James has other problems. He’s been targeted by Cyrus Bain, a career criminal, and the man who recently shot him during a raid.

Okay, that’s the basic plot. Unfortunately, the further I went into the book, the more other stuff got in the way and as mentioned later, the plot fell apart. Some flashbacks that confused me. The story kept diverting away from the Dingo to see what Bain was up to next and, in my view, relegated the serial killer angle to second place.

Characters

Lawrence James: Intelligence Liaison Officer from the Serious Crimes Squad, ex British cop, ex smoker (except when he drinks)

Jesse Sandersen: criminal psychologist, has a Ph.d, professor at Melbourne University, author, smokes

Dan Collins: police officer with the title of Constable, married

Allan ‘Toohey’ Campbell: Collins’ partner, 6’6”

Cyrus Bain: 38, criminal, almost 6′ tall, green eyes, smokes cigars, has a daughter

Adrian Marsh: ex criminal reporter

Lots of other characters, some minor, some with medium sized roles.

James, supposedly the main character, didn’t turn out that strong. He spent much of his time by himself and catching up on the investigation after others had done their jobs. (Yes, I realize the seclusion was for his own safety, but if he’s the main character…) Sandersen, the second ‘main’ character was almost uninvolved. The relationship between the two changed too abruptly, then they separated. Marsh, it seemed, did most of the investigating, then reported to James.

One character I didn’t understand was the female television reporter whose child is kidnapped. She has a connection to Bain but I didn’t quit comprehend or believe, her attitude about her child being taken. In fact, the entire kidnapping confused me.

The more the story went along, the more these characters acted out of the ordinary. Bain wants to kill James then doesn’t when he has the chance. James’ boss’ reaction is, “Oh well, get back to work.” James’ reaction is, “Okay.” Huh? He spends most of the book hiding out from a guy who wants to whack him then all of a sudden puts him on the back burner? There was a point I about called it quits on this book because some of these people were off the wall, and not in a humorous way.

Dialogue

One instance of missed quotes.

Too many extra stuff after tag lines. One instance had …said with a smile. Then: …said with an appreciative smile. Then: …said with obvious pride in his voice. Three of these in a row. And, there are many other additions of a tag line with long action bits afterward. Sometimes it’s okay and helps the reader stay in scene, but if there are too many, the reader tends to lose focus on the important stuff. Plus, sometimes stuff that is mentioned after the tag lines can’t happen because it’s indicated that the action is happening at the same time as the dialogue: …he said, exhaling smoke from his nostrils. Really? He said something and exhaled through his nostrils at the same time? Good trick.

This is the third book in a row where I’ve run into instances of two tag lines for the same speaker in one paragraph of dialogue: “Well that’s probably the best offer I’m going to get in this one-horse town,” said Sandersen with a smile. “I’ll let you get yourself together and give you a call in say half-an-hour,” she said…

The second tag is not needed because the reader already knows who’s speaking. And again, there is a long action sentence after the second tag line which probably should be its own paragraph.

Speaking of tags, and again, I’ve mentioned this in a recent review, ‘said’ is a perfectly good tag. No need to insert other vocalizations. This book had too many uses of ‘added’, especially when it’s the first tag in a conversation. You can’t add to your side of the conversation if you haven’t spoken yet.

Writing

Sections are headed by location. Some missing punctuation and other punctuation problems. Profanity. Long paragraphs. Some repetitious words here and there.

Continuity problem: In the early part of the book, the serial killer had taken four victims in the first spree. Later, the number changes to five.

Much of the plot is not believable, because even with creative license, the events just would not happen or be allowed. One example is: a vicious criminal is put into a Supermax Prison for fifteen years minimum before parole would be considered is allowed to be interviewed unshackled and without handcuffs at a television station, which subsequently provides opportunity for escape.

The difficulty in reading this book, as well as others with similar mistakes or things that don’t work, is that, I discover said mistakes early. Trying to finish the book with them glaring at me is arduous. For instance, in this book, most of the stuff mentioned above was found in the first 20% and continued throughout. Plus, the above mentioned un-believable plot just kept getting more so the longer I read.

For awhile I contemplated Yellow, then Orange, but by two-thirds of the way through all of the errors and things that just didn’t work added up to drop out the bottom.

My Rank:

White Belt

White

Prodigal Son

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00067]

By Kathleen Lopez

http://www.facebook.com/imkathleenlopez


Plot

Sheriff Martin Shuller returns home after solving a murder in a neighboring town. Soon, he’s involved in a new romance…and a new murder.

That’s pretty much it. About half and half between the murder mystery and the developing romance. However, there really isn’t any ‘mystery’. The killer is known and the procedural part is fairly easy.

Characters

Martin Shuller: sheriff, 6’1”, has a sister and a brother

Jeanie Jacobs: firehouse dispatcher, has a sister, drives a pickup

Vivian Nash: 67, widow

Levi Swanson: auto mechanic, drives a Mustang, adopted as a child, played football in high school, parents dead

Pretty pat characters. Martin’s reaction’s to the murder are just a bit unbelievable. He just came off of a gruesome murder and now this one, even though it’s a close friend who is the victim, really rocks him. Maybe part of it has to do with the ending, but the man is a cop for heaven’s sake.

Dialogue

Tag lines that can’t be tag lines. Error of POV in one tag line: “Take your time, Viv,” the shadow yelled back, hearing another clank of the knocker as he released it.–The POV starts with Vivian in the scene. This tag line shows the POV from the person on the other side of the door. It’s too abrupt a change if that is what is meant and the hearing of the knocker is unimportant anyway.

Two pieces of dialogue with the same person speaking do not need two separate tag lines if they’re in the same paragraph of dialogue. (“Looks like we can make it to the car before the heavy stuff hits,” he said. “Wanna make a break for it?” he said nodding to Levi.) In this instance, the second tag line isn’t needed.

Writing

A lot of misspelled words or wrong words. (Sometimes the words should be past tense but are present tense or needed an ‘ed’.) (A humorous misspell was the sentence in a piece of dialogue that Levi said while telling a story about when he was playing in the hay barn as a child: “I was fighting some epic battle or something; ducting and jumping between the stacks.” Now, I assume he was ducking between the stacks rather than putting in ventilation pipes. Another is that Shuller ‘…kept taking one or two peaks out the window.’ One that confused me was: ‘…the paramedics flacked her, and gingerly lifted her from the floor.’) (‘Inhale’ is not a noun. Inhalation is the noun.)

An instance or three of profanity. Not much, though. Grammar problems.

About a third of the way through, there was an abrupt scene change and an abrupt POV change that threw me.

Time problems: In one chapter Shuller and Jeanie are at a movie at the beginning of the film. At the same time, Levi is shown breaking into a house and the owner pulls a gun on him. The next scene is after the movie and Shuller and Jeanie leave the theatre. The next scene picks up with Levi, still with a gun on him. Really? The house owner and Levi both stood there for at least an hour and a half?

In one scene, Shuller see cops drive over to the murder victim’s house. In the next scene, a friend of the victim’s discovers the body and calls the police. (Yes, I’ve seen this type of writing done before, but here I don’t think it works.)

Except for the beginning of the book, where Shuller has solved a crime (happens before the story begins but mentioned at the beginning), nearly half the book goes by before there is any real action. Long set up scenes. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the ‘corpse on page two’ idea, but I remember another book written by a prolific series writer that I stopped reading (and never read her again) when the body didn’t show up until page 75.

In general the writing could have been a lot tighter. There are some sentences that, while not technically incorrect, just aren’t very smooth. Usually this is because of repetitious words. (Too many ‘headed over’ and ‘head out’ phrases, and ‘the boys’ in reference to both the police investigators and the firehouse crew.)

I realize that automobiles often are considered ‘female’, even muscle cars. That’s fine, but when the car is referred to as ‘her’ instead of ‘it’, the reader may be confused, especially if used in the same paragraph as when the driver of the car passed ‘her house’. I know that the ‘her’ is not referring to the car’s house but a person’s. However, the constant word ‘her’ is one of those tightening up areas needed.

There is an interesting twist at the end, but I don’t think there were enough clues to let the reader be truly shocked, so I think it ends up being too pat. Plus, with everything else wrong with this book, the twist can’t raise the rank above:

White Belt

White

Paranoid

Paranoid by Janice Foster - front cover - 1875x2500 (1)

By Janice Foster

janice for back of book

                                                                                                            www.janicefoster.co.za

Plot

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).

Characters

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.

Dialogue

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.

Writing

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.

My Rank:

White Belt

White

The Bergamese Sect

Cover3

By Alastair Gunn

AlastairGGunn

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LF9YQSC

Plot

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.

Characters

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.

Dialogue

Some of the individual voices get lost when the conversations get lengthy and lecture-ish.

Writing

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.

My Rank:

Purple Belt

Purple

A Killer Retreat

Killer Retreat

By Tracy Weber

Tracy Weber Small Headshot

http://TracyWeberAuthor.com

Plot

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.

Characters

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.

Dialogue

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.

Writing

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.

My Rank:

Blue Belt

Blue

Clear Line Of Sight

ClearLineOfSight_LOWRES

By D. C. Black

www.dcblackbooks.com

Plot

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.

Characters

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.

Dialogue

The problem with so many characters is that individual voices don’t come through. Problems with tag lines as mentioned below.

Writing

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:

White Belt

White

Boston Shadow

cover

By Tijani Fulani

http://www.amazon.com/BOSTON-SHADOW-CASE-BOOK-BLAKE-ebook/dp/B00OS761NG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414197295&sr=8-1&keywords=boston+shadow%2C+fulani

Plot

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

Characters

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.

Dialogue

Ira has a little cynicism and I like Frances’ energy and intelligence.

Writing

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.

My Rank:

Camouflage Belt

Camo

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