Monthly Archives: December 2013

Syndicate Girl

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by Frank Kane

http://www.amazon.com/Syndicate-Girl-Dell-8454-Frank/dp/B000TYO0NA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355745552&sr=8-1&keywords=syndicate+girl%2C+frank+kane

Plot

Jackson City is owned and run by the Syndicate with the local boss one Al Zito. But District Attorney Mal Waters has had enough and after the framing and murder of cop, he goes on the offensive. With the help of a newspaper editor and a trustworthy police captain, Waters sets out to break the mob’s hold. But they may have too many enemies who have too much power. The match is lit and the fireworks are about to explode and things won’t cool down until something blows. How far will Waters go to shut down the mob? And what happens when the Syndicate sends in their best fixer, the beautiful, but dangerous, Mary Lister?

Characters

Malcolm Waters – District Attorney, ambitious, played football in high school, graduated Harvard with a stint in Korea as a squadron leader, did a short period of employment for the State Department, smokes

Ed London – mayor, short, stout, almost completely bald, smokes cigars

Rita London – Ed’s daughter, red hair, green eyes, affianced to Mallory, wants to move up in society, smokes

Al Zito – syndicate boss in Jackson City, fat

Mary Lister – blonde beautiful, works for the Syndicate, knows secrets about a lot of people and the mob’s operation,

Lou Stewart – editor and publisher of the Star newspaper, smokes a pipe

Max Everett – publisher of the Jackson City World, hawk-faced, smokes cigars

Matt Cleary – Captain on the police force, 25 years on the force, thick white hair, flat skull, mustache and thick eyebrows, scar on jaw, blue eyes, has a daughter

Barney Maurer – suave, owns a nightclub/gambling house, heavy set

Everybody smokes. The women are all pretty and attractive with sex appeal.s Very stereotypical characters but that is what you expect in books like this. I tend to like characters that stand out, are just a little bit over the top. These types of stories do that.

Dialogue

Quick and to the point. Good voices.

Writing

This is pulp fiction. Shorter story than an average novel. Quick action. Quick descriptions. No extraneous material. A few instances of mild profanity. I was expecting Lister to come into the picture sooner, rather than near the end. Still, a good story.

My ranking:

Blue Belt

Blue

Through A Yellow Wood

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By Carolyn J. Rose

rose

http://www.deadlyduomysteries.com/

Plot

Trying to settle down in Hemlock Lake, Dan Stone receives a request to check on Clarence Wolven, a man Dan discovers is a distant relation. When he and his friend Jefferson Longyear arrive at Wolven’s mountain cabin where he raises tracking dogs, they discover Wolven and all but one of the dogs have been murdered. On a return visit, they bring the surviving dog who leads them to a dump site containing victims of a serial killer. It’s a summer of full of suspense and death of various kinds for Dan as he finds himself involved with not only the investigation but problems relating to his past.

This story runs a time period from April through October. It’s a long story and the murder mystery is almost secondary to everything in the town. Days and weeks pass with nothing happening until another girl disappears or Dan investigates a couple suspects.

Characters

Dan Stone: suffering aftereffects of gunshot to left shoulder, parents dead, formerly of the sheriff’s department, has a brother, was married once before, lived in Flagstaff, former teacher

Camille Stone: Dan’s girlfriend, black Irish, colored hair, copper brown eyes, ex husband was a killer

Mary Louise van Valkenburg: has a passion for genealogy, runs a post office

Lou Marie van Valkenburg: Mary’s twin sister, abrasive, runs a general store, finds fault in most people

Jefferson Longyear: gray brush cut hair, tall, former Marine, deep rough voice, wears glasses, haunted by war memories but experiences memory loss from before the war

Colden Cornell: newspaper reporter, tall, early twenties, sandy brown hair, uneven mustache, spotty beard, high voice

Some good characters here with a supporting cast to add to the community atmosphere. A couple stood out but I didn’t feel a real connection to anybody. The dog helped keep things a bit lively.

Dialogue

Again, some characters had good voices. I think the best dialogue came when Dan, Camille and the regular ‘group’ met at the diner. Personalities came through better then.

Writing

Written in first person from Dan’s POV. This is a long involved story. This is one of those rare types of books that really require being read second after the first book with Dan Stone. There is extensive references to the past book and it’s murder mystery and reveals spoilers. However, because I hadn’t read the first book, I felt distanced from the story and it’s characters. I really didn’t ‘get into’ the story and the length of time it took for the story proceed with so much going on besides the murder didn’t excite me much. Plus, logically, there was only one person who could have been the killer because the others just didn’t fit. I suspected this particular person almost from the character’s introduction. I think there was once instance of profanity. No real graphic detail.

My ranking:

Purple Belt

Purple

Dark City Blue

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by Luke Preston

Preston

http://www.amazon.com/Luke-Preston/e/B00A313UO4

Plot

Detective Tom Bishop is on the trail of dirty cops. After a takedown of an illegal pornography operation, one of the felons squeals about robbery going down the next morning involving bad cops. Bishop discovers the robbery too late, but subsequent investigation puts him on the run from members of his own department. Not knowing who to trust, beaten, shot and pursued, Bishop wades through the muck of the city to find the answers and to reveal the mysterious entity known as Justice.

Bad cop stories are familiar and this one is no exception. Here you have a regular cast of characters: bad cops, a shaky judge, junkies, prostitutes, informants, etc. It’s a basic plot with little depth because the action is so fast you barely have time to breathe.

Characters

Tom Bishop: police detective for the Victorian Police Department, smokes, lives in an apartment, father dead, father killed mother, was beaten by his father and developed a violent streak after he went to an orphanage, learned how to read from a girlfriend, worked in construction, matured after living with a cop, has a daughter, Bishop not his actual birth name.

Jane Ellison: 29, Bishop’s partner

Jim Patterson: Works for Ethical Standards (Internal Afffairs), had worked in various departments before his field work ended when injured on the job, married

Some support characters don’t have first names or just a nickname. Because of the quick action, there really wasn’t any time to delve deeper into the characters other than Bishop. Everybody else is pretty surface.

Dialogue

Not quite B-movie, but almost.

Writing

Short chapters. Some headed by the hour and minute. Profanity as it is a cop story but some of it sounded forced and was unnecessary. The clues and evidence come fast and the story moves along. There are flashbacks to months previous when Bishop meets his daughter. The problems I have are: I don’t know in what city the story is set. I’m assuming somewhere in Britain because of the terms used. However, later in the story, it mentions a state, but not which state. Like some of the British mysteries I’ve seen on television, the story jumps right in as if the reader is supposed to know everything about everything and everybody even if things are explained later. There is police terminology, acronyms, used that weren’t explained.

My ranking:

Green Belt

Green

The Genesis Code

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by John Case

John Case

http://johncase.com/

Plot

Joe Lassiter, head of an investigative firm, takes it upon himself to investigate the heinous deaths of his sister and nephew. The killer is caught almost immediately and then escapes. Lassiter, tracking down clues the killer left behind, finds himself traveling all over Europe: Italy, Sweden, Slovenia. In his investigations, he discovers that the murders weren’t the first to occur. The more he digs into the case, the more attention he gets from dangerous foes, including a sect of the Catholic church.

I enjoy these puzzle plots, especially when there’s a religious bent to them. Case makes you wait until the very near the end for the solution and it seems at times that it takes a long time to get there. Still an interesting premise.

Characters

Joe Lassiter: drives an Acura, head of Lassiter Associates (an investigative firm), blew out his knee playing soccer several years previously, parents dead, big frame, tall, teaching himself piano, blue eyes, boxed in college

Giulio Azetti: Jesuit priest in a small Italian town, middle age, attended the Vatican’s Gregorian University, worked in Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and for the Secretariat of State, lived in Mexico and Venezuela working for the church, has a doctorate in canon law

Stefano Orsini: Vatican Cardinal, attended the Vatican’s Gregorian University, head of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, big man, fleshy face, big brown eyes, devoted to the church, power seeker

Silvio della Torre: leader of the Umbra Domini sect of the the Catholic church, handsome, mid-thirties, black curly hair, wears faded aquamarine colored contacts, tall, smokes cigars, has studied in various countries, is an excellent kickboxer

Nick ‘Woody’ Woodburn: grew up in Georgetown with Lassiter and attended the same schools until the senior year when he attended Hyde School in Maine, ran track, attended University of Wisconsin, majored in Arabic, Rhodes scholar, worked in the Office of Political and Military Affairs in the State Department, is current chief of the Intelligence Research Bureau, one of eleven children

There were a lot of characters because with people like Lassiter, he has a lot of connections around the world. Nobody was boring and some of the minor people were refreshing.

Dialogue

Lots of explanation of various matters. I think everybody had a pretty distinctive voice and conversations stayed pretty true to the matter at hand.

Writing

Story is in Parts. Part 1 is all about a confession that leads to the main story. I thought it went on a little too long. Some profanity. Not much action but a lot of explanation as Lassiter bopping around the world picking up clues in every place. Sometimes, there were more details than needed about certain aspects. I expected a little more gunplay or maybe an explosion or two to keep things interesting. The story did keep me going in that I wanted to learn about the ultimate question of why the deaths occurred, but I hoped for a little more adventure and danger. Some nice descriptions on the various locales.

My ranking:

Blue Belt

Blue

Phantasy

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by Marlowe

http://www.amazon.com/Phantasy-Marlowe-Sr-ebook/dp/B00EYG240K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384854466&sr=8-1&keywords=phantasy%2C+marlowe

Plot

India: A man lives with his constantly quarreling parents. He’s a dreamer, fantasizing about people with whom he can’t have a decent relationship and events that never quite go his way. Months after losing his job, he decides to write a story. Anguishing over every scene he writes about a land in the distant past ruled by a queen who is impregnated by a demon and dies. 3000 years later, in the same land, a visitor from a foreign country takes a tour with his friend with whom he has been corresponding. In these modern times, women train for the Army, talk of a demon still resonates fear, and archeologists have begun digging where maybe they shouldn’t be.

Okay, that’s the plot. That’s it. Parents and son argues about many topics. Son complains about everybody in his life. Son writes story. Not much here to get excited about. The plot of the ‘story’ was mildly interesting until I started reading it.

Characters

Main Character: no name, lives with his parents, thin frame, virgin, at the beginning is working at the same factory his where his dad worked

Mother: Mother of the main character, always yelling and criticizing, landlord

Father: Father of the main character, used to be a factory worker

Basically three characters and none of them is likeable. All this family does is argue and complain. The main character can’t find anything good about the people he meets or the places he visits. He has a miserable life. None of his dreams are pleasant. He gets bored with the ‘story’ he’s writing. He admits he has trouble writing the story after he’s written long chapters and then says the story is terrible. This didn’t get me excited about reading more of his project. His parents are terrible people with no likeable qualities. Even the characters who make cameos-bus passengers, restaurant patrons, most of whom don’t have names, don’t exhibit good personalities.

Dialogue

It is written almost as a script for a play would be written.

Me: Dialogue

Other person: dialogue

Me: thoughts and dialogue

Not believable conversations. Most of the conversations are with the main character and his parents but they’re mostly arguments. They drag on too long and just aren’t how people converse with each other, even when arguing. Much of the ‘dialogue’ between the main character and others are held within the main character’s mind whether in his waking thoughts or in his dreams and I suppose in the dreams the conversations can go any way the main character wants them too, but still they’re difficult to follow and comprehend. In the ‘story’ two characters are being attacked by a monster yet they have a lengthy discourse on the conversation one of them had when he called in for assistance. This takes the reader away from any tension that may have existed. No distinctive voices because most characters are complaining.

Writing

Titles are named and sections are listed by date, time and location.

At the beginning, the Author’s Note advises against certain types of readers. It states only readers with BRAINS should read the book. Open minded readers. I found this a little off-putting to begin a book this way. Yes there is a plethora of profanity, much of it gratuitous and doesn’t add to the story. However, to open a book with this note before the opening chapter doesn’t take into account that not every book will be liked by every reader. The author denies responsibility if the reader is offended. I’m not sure of the message here. Some people might be offended. Some people might love it. If one enjoys the book, fine, but I don’t think any reader assumes an author sets out to offend on purpose. (Unless it is intentional, which would make it an entirely different type of book.) Anyway, the Author’s Note didn’t set well with me.

The book is written from a first person POV, and the script-type format continues with scene changes as ‘Cut to another scene’ (whatever/wherever that scene is). This is an interesting way to write, however, mistakes and errors abound in this book. Grammar, punctuation, misspelled words, missing words, sentences written incorrectly (i.e. ‘She pointed me out to a restaurant.’ No, she pointed a restaurant out to him.), unnecessary words (shouted loudly). Some of the sentences, internal dialogue, were difficult to follow, especially with ellipses that were over- and incorrectly used. Over use of exclamation points and capitalized words and sentences. Written in present tense but during the ‘story’ the tense switches, sometimes within the same sentence. Formatting problems-I suspect-with underlined text and extra spacing between lines.

The Author’s Note also explains that the italicized parts are dreams or inner thoughts depending on the scene, however, sometimes I found it difficult to stay focused during dialogue when there were so many lengthy inner thoughts.

Part of the problem is that the characters ramble on about various things and the author bounces from one topic to another with no chance for the reader to catch up. There are too long scenes discussing such topics as coconuts and railway tickets and well tubes that don’t seem to have a point other than to show the continued bickering and complaining by the family. I could not comprehend the relevance or purpose of some of these scenes (actually, most of them seemed meaningless). In the beginning, for instance, there are sections titled Blackmail. Well, I knew what the blackmail would be, but it was hardly touched upon and when the story moved on I felt cheated because the only purpose of the scene(s) was to have him lose his job. This continues throughout the story.

Another problem which threw me was that the story moves in time from the first part of October 2012 through most of November, then jumps to February of the next year where the man starts writing his ‘story’. Then it goes back to November for no apparent reason other than to show more long pointless scenes. And when we are back in November, the author jumps backwards and forwards in time which gets confusing. In November, the main characters speaks of continuing the story he’s writing but earlier it’s shown he doesn’t stat the writing project until February so there’s a continuity problem.

This is not a book or a story. This is a jumble of words/’scenes’ that don’t make sense all thrown together.

My rank:

White Belt

White