Monthly Archives: August 2012

Bloodman

by Robert Pobi

http://www.robertpobi.com/

I had to put this review up today instead of waiting for its normal turn on the list because I met Mr. Pobi a couple days ago at the Killer Nashville conference. He actually hugged me when I told him I had written his review for Suspense Magazine. He doesn’t read reviews too much but his agent passed mine along to him. We talked and he’s a cool guy, very personable and will be sending me the ARC of his next book. I can’t wait. Anyway, here’s the review for Bloodman.

Plot

Jake Cole has rooted out many human monsters in as a Special Agent for the FBI. However, when he returns home to Long Island he soon is pitted against one of the worst…because it involves his family. Jake is home to assess the condition of his father, a famous painter, who is suffering from mental instability, but is also haunted. Not one day home Jake is called to a gruesome murder scene. Jake has the ability to mentally recreate murders but the ability combined  with past sufferings, has left him at the point of burn out or maybe insanity. Investigating the case, he discovers a cache of strange painting in his father’s house and workshop. Could they be the clue to the killer? Jake is up against not only a horrifying link to his family’s past, but a present day natural killer: the worst hurricane in history.

This is complex with so many layers it’s impossible to explain them all.

Sure, it’s a murder mystery in its foundation, but from the basement on up, there is so much more. It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s very very dark. It’s a puzzler that will hook you and never let you go.

Characters

Jake Cole: 45, birth name was Jacob Coleridge, Junior. FBI Special Agent in New York for twelve years. Smokes, black eyes, has a neck to ankles tattoo of the 12th Canto of Dante’s Inferno. Former drug and alcohol abuser, has scar tissue on his head that causes migraines if he sees bright lights. Has a pacemaker that regulates his heartbeat. Drives a ’68 Dodge Charger. Dad drinks and suffers from mental instability. Dad is a famous painter. Mom was murder with Jake was twelve. Eidetic memory. Married with a son. Looks like Charles Bronson

Mike Hauser: Sheriff, trim, 50, flat-top, played football in high school and at the university of Texas, short stint with the NFL, stands 6’3”. Married with a daughter. Hunter. Has a sister. Has spent twenty years as a cop. Son was killed by a drunk driver. Drives a new Dodge Charger

William Spencer: cop, Jake’s friend from school, dad dead. Big man, owned a Corvette. Used to shuck oysters

Frank Coleridge: Twin brother to Jake’s dad. Lives in Kentucky. Hunter, smokes, Korea vet, pragmatic. Has had several long term relationships with women.

Powerful characters. Pobi has created not only human characters, but uses just about everything in this book as a character. The hurricane. A boat from1969. Jake’s mother’s car. The workshop. The house. Vivid descriptions and personalities.  Again, complex characters.

Dialogue

All over the map. Jake’s dialogues tend to be subdued, but at times he will lash out at someone who screwed up. Other characters who speak don’t quite know what to say or how to say it. They’re confused and puzzled by Jake.

Even Jake’s wife is quirky in her speaking even though at first she sounds like a typical spouse. I’m not saying it’s wrong, just very different in regards to the story. I think it works very well. Dialogue ties into:

Writing

Lots of profanity. Almost too much at times because Pobi spews it at you.

Some chapters are headed by location or time period. Very graphic details.

This is a gruesome story that doesn’t hold back. It’s a written piece of art. Pobi uses words and phrases like a painter holding a brush, it’s that visual. Sometimes, it’s almost surreal, haunting. Powerful. I thought at first to give it a Brown Belt, but quickly upgraded to Red. The further I read, however, the more this one hooked me like very few books have.

My ranking:

Black Belt

Alone At The Very End Of the World

by Damien Joseph

http://www.amazon.com/Alone-very-End-World-ebook/dp/B008UUY9K4

Plot

Richard, his son, Bryan, and friend, Bob, are living in a facility after a biological event has destroyed the world. Richard relays the tale of the beginning of the event to his son, including how he came to live in the facility with his father and subsequently met his future wife. In the present, Bob is worried that raiders may invade the facility and soon he and Richard make plans for Bob and Bryan to escape. Richard is left alone to face the unknown.

Nice premise. However: we never learn what town they’re in, how big the town is, any details about the origin of the biological disaster or how it killed off every human and animal. You get the idea it was airborne with the masks everybody wears, but this was never proven. Nobody tries to seek help from anyone outside the facility or leaves the town to see if the rest of the world was affected. Nobody seeks out other survivors. Nobody from outside the town ever visits. This is a very weak plot with a lot of holes and unanswered questions.

Characters

Richard: uses a cane. Mother died when Richard was seven. Dad was a biochemist. Wife dead.

Bryan: seven years old, Richard’s son

Bob: Richard’s friend. Stutters.

Nobody has a last name. Minimal or no descriptions of major or minor characters. Richard’s mother’s details are all over the map. She’s kind and beautiful and loving but at the same time she’s constantly angry at her neighbor. Richard’s dad is a biochemist, yet we hear nothing from him about the origin of the biological event or if he can do anything to solve the problem. Bob stutters at the ends of words. The characters had no real depth.

Dialogue

Very simple. No depth. No real separation of voices. Conversations dragged along with no meaning. Too much use of capitals to express shouting. I didn’t understand the use of bold type in some of the dialogue.

Writing

This was a very difficult book to read. There was minimal, if any, editing, certainly not professionally. Basic rules of writing were ignored. Quality sentence structure was nonexistent for the most part.

Misspellings, incorrect words, punctuation, grammar, tense, formatting-these were major problems throughout.

There was an error in time in that Richard is 7 when the event happened and he and his dad made their way to the facility. Between one chapter and the next three years have passed and Richard is said to be age 12.

The epilogue comes after The End.

Sentences were very difficult to comprehend. Several stand alone sentences were shoved together, separated incorrectly by commas or semicolons.

Actions scenes weren’t believable or exciting. Simple plot details weren’t believable. Basic physics weren’t acceptable.

I cannot recommend this book and, unfortunately, cannot give it a lower ranking than:

White Belt

Fever Dream

By Dennis Palumbo

http://dennispalumbo.com/

Plot

A bank robbery goes wrong and one hostage survives. Doctor Daniel Rinaldi, a psychologist working with the Pittsburgh police is called in to handle the traumatized victim. From there, Rinaldi is in on every step of the subsequent investigation that seems to go awry with each new development. Plus, other factors are intruding into his life: his growing attraction for one of the detectives; her partner’s problem with divorce and alcoholism; a former patient’s suicide; and always in the forefront, a district attorney running for governor whose campaign is fraught with possible scandal and death threats.

I like it. There are enough subplots and twists to keep the main story from dragging.

Characters

Daniel Rinaldi: psychologist who works with the Pittsburgh police. His wife was killed by a mugger. Drives a ’69 Mustang, former boxer, likes jazz

Eleanor Lowrey: Detective, black

Harry Polk: police sergeant, Lowrey’s partner, alcoholic, smoker, recently divorced

Ledland Sinclair: district attorney running for governor

Brian Fletcher: Sinclair’s campaign manager

Stu Biegler: Lieutenant of Robbery/Homicide, wants to always be in charge and in the know

Treva Williams: Bank employee, only surviving hostage. Has a history with Eleanor.

A few other characters thrown in the mix, but everybody is well defined with unique personalities. Very well outlined characters and each get their own deserved attention. I wasn’t impressed with the bad guy, though. A little stilted with some typical bad guy lines. Yeah, he’s nasty but I don’t really get involved with him. He’s more of an annoyance than a character you ‘love to hate.’

Dialogue

Unique to each person. Almost always you can tell who’s speaking even without a tag line. You have a few characters who use profanity, but the personality of each shows the ‘quality’ of the words.

Writing

Polumbo uses a lot of fragmented sentences. Most of the time it’s okay, but sometimes the usage is distracting because the fragmentation is almost overdone. Some sentences you can easily fragment while others really need to be complete. I don’t mind the usage, except when it’s done several times per paragraph when a complete sentence probably would be better. And please forgive me for being dense, but I didn’t understand the title’s relation to the story.

The action is tight, the chapters are relatively short. It’s written in first person (Rinaldi). I thought for awhile how ‘realistic’ it would be to have a psychologist in every scene when a first person viewpoint is usually taken from a cop’s point of view. But it works and I like the separation, of someone outside the cops. Keep an eye on Polumbo for your collection.

My ranking:

Blue Belt

The Cleveland Creep

The Cleveland Creep

 

By Les Roberts

http://lesroberts.com/

Plot

Milan Jacovich, Cleveland private investigator, is hired by Savannah Dacey to find her lost son, Earl. Earl is twenty-eight and as Jacovich discovers into taking ‘upskirt’ videos of teens at local malls. The missing person case turns creepier when Jacovich starts speaking with individuals involved with the mob and those dealing in pornography. Also, he’s been persuaded by another PI friend to hire an assistant, a man with temper and fists to back it up. When a dead body turns up dead, Jacovich is hounded not only by the local police (with whom he’s no friend) and an FBI agent (with whom he doesn’t want to be a friend). Missing person to murder, with trouble adding up for Jacovich in every chapter.

It’s a plot that reveals a little more with each chapter. There is a little bit of everything in this, from Catholic schools, to the FBI, to pornography dealers, and personal issues.

Characters

Milan Jacovich: Pronounced ‘my-lan’ (with the stress on the first syllable) ‘yock-vich’. 59, Cleveland PI, wry sense of humor, former military policeman, former cop, lives in an apartment, two sons, wears reading glasses, drinks Stroh’s beer, likes crunchy peanut butter.

Savannah Dacey: Artificially dyed hair, uses bad grammar, fleshy, dresses and appears in aspects of the sixties, flirty, widow.

Kevin ‘KO’ O’Bannion: 24, Irish, deep indigo eyes, physically fit, blonde/red hair, ex Army, serious, no sense of humor, expresses a dry wit when writing emails, served three years in juvenile custody for violence, ex Catholic, owns a cat.

Cleveland: northeast Ohio city with a lot of history.

These are very well presented characters (along with others) and aspects of their lives are parceled out so you don’t get overwhelmed but receive a complete picture. From the mob boss to the aging reporter to the Catholic school principal, every character is unique and is very well distinguished. You have the feeling you know and understand everyone, even the bad guys. Cleveland becomes part of the story and affects attitude, characters, and action.

Dialogue

Distinctive voices all around. No long lectures or soliloquies. To the point.

Writing

First person narrative. Just enough detail to present a complete picture, just like the characters. Action is quick. Subject matter is not for children and I didn’t care learning about certain aspects of the pornography business. This books reaffirms that mankind can be a sick and cruel species. However, moving past the deviance and looking at the writing itself, this is a very well written book. I was impressed from the first chapter. The humor, the descriptions, and way the story unfolded showed solid, knowledgeable, and experienced writing.

My ranking:

Red Belt