Monthly Archives: January 2014

El Dorado Blues

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by Shaun Morey

Morey

http://www.shaunmorey.com/

Plot

Atticus Fish, billionaire ex pat, now living in Magdalena Bay, is called into track down Digby, an archaeologist who may have discovered the famed Jesuit treasure. Digby, however, has been kidnapped by a pair of twin knuckleheads who decide to steal the treasure for themselves. Soon to get involved in the chase for gold, silver, pearls and a cursed crown are a wealthy real estate mogul, a strange woman who keeps her lair hermetically sealed, and a womanizing lush black marketeer. Up and down the Baja coastline, under the sea and in the air, the adventure never stops. For Atticus, danger stalks him every minute and only with a little know-how, and a few surprises can he survive.

This is so much more than a treasure hunt. The plot is very simple, though, but what makes it fun are the characters.

Characters

Atticus Fish: formerly Francis Finch, ex attorney, billionaire, expatriate, lives in Baja Mexico on his own island. Owns a yacht, a trawler, a seaplane, a mule, and two labs. 6’4”, braided goatee, long hair, widower, ex alcoholic, boxer in college,

Duncan ‘Digby’ Rigby: Professor of archeology at the University of Arizona, drives an F-150, has a shark tooth tattoo on arm, has a sister, mustached

Zack and Jack: twins, dirty beards, Jack chews, Zack has crooked teeth, drive a 1979 Toyota truck, Zack has kids and is a part-time custodian at the University of Arizona

Toozie McGill: Fish’s ex sister in-law, P.I., drives a diesel truck

Harvey Dixon: Thief, smokes, brother is a bounty hunter/hit man

Ronald Stump: Real estate mogul, owns a mega-yacht, wears a toupee

Charlie Diamond: Black marketeer, made his wealth in billboards, owns several yachts, smokes cigars.

These are very unique characters, every one. Fun, vivid, kooky. I especially enjoyed Barbie, the germaphobe. Too bad some had to die because I would have like to read about them in later books.

Dialogue

Very good voices. Conversations stay on point and don’t drag.

Writing

Short chapters headed by location of scene, some profanity but not an overabundance. Three epilogues? Action is quick. Descriptions give you the right amount of material. Atticus’ back story doesn’t detract from the story. I really enjoyed this story. I liked the adventure and the fun. I recommend you to read Morey’s first book, Wahoo Rhapsody, but it’s not necessary to read first before El Dorado Blues.

My ranking:

Red Belt

Red

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If The Coffin Fits

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by Day Keene

Day-Keene

http://www.amazon.com/The-Coffin-Fits-Day-Keene/dp/B004PHJVEK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357639964&sr=8-1&keywords=if+the+coffin+fits%2C+keene

Plot

Private investigator Tom Doyle is hired by a buddy from the war to look into a case in the gambling town of Central City. James Burton is on death row for a murder he may not have committed. Those in criminal power are blackmailing the wife of a sitting Senator running for governor (and who vows to clean up Central City) into calling it quits. The blackmail: Burton may be the illegitimate child of the Senator’s wife given up for adoption. Doyle takes the case to discover the truth but already knows the stakes are high and the people with whom he has to deal are powerful…and deadly.

Gambling, politics, blackmail. These always are favorites to make a good pulp fiction thriller.

Characters

Tom Doyle: Married with twin sons, private investigator in Chicgo, was a Marine in WWII, owns a gambling joint in Central City, has a stomach scar from a bayonet, smokes, white hair, blue eyes

Tiny Anderson: 45, was in World War II, smokes cigars, white hair, sunken eyes, big man, was a Marine in WWII

Fay Rogers:18, attends a girls college out east taking design courses, father dead, thin, mother owns a gambling joint

Meager: Justice of the Peace in Central City, scrawny neck, tall, rheumy eyes

Lieutenant Phillips: Central City police officer, clean cut, smokes cigars

Phil and Bill Karney: twins, blonde, bad cops

Paul Hanlon: doctor, Central City Commissioner of Public Health, drinker, white hair, wears pince-nez

John T. Eggers: attorney, alcoholic, married, small man, bulbous nose, dyed black hair, smokes cigars

Pretty standard characters and just what you’d expect from a book like this. Still, it’s refreshing to read about these types from time to time. Everything you need to know can be summed up in a few sentences. No need for a lot of back story unless it’s relevant to the plot.

Dialogue

The men are men, the women are women, the bad guys talk like bad guys. The drunks are drunks and the lackeys are lackeys. Standard fare. No nonsense, no extraneous words. Narratives stay on track.

Writing

First person from Doyle’s POV. This book was written long before computers, cell phones and ipads. I love the references and the phrasing to what used to be. Portable plug in phones, four bits, jalopy, eight dollars a day for a motel room. No profanity. Action is tough and straight. Death was swift and violent. Just what a pulp fiction book should be.

My ranking:

Blue Belt

Blue

The Manolo Matrix

ThaManoloMatrix

by Julie Kenner

Kenner

http://juliekenner.com

Plot

Manhattenite Jennifer crane longs to be a Broadway star, but makes due with being a singing waitress. The previous year, Jennifer’s friend and former roommate, Melanie Prescott, was involved in a real version of an online game of intrigue, puzzles, and murder. Melanie survived and subsequently joined the NSA. However, the games, real and online, are still being played. This time, Jennifer has to stop the assassin from completing the mission or she may be dead.

I like puzzle thrillers, even light-hearted, humorous ones. I couldn’t fully comprehend this one because it deals with Broadway productions, with which I’m not familiar. Still an enjoyable tale with a bit of romance to keep it spicy.

Characters

Jennifer Crane: employed as a singing waitress in Manhatten, trying to be a stage actress, tall, thin, former smoker, has a sister an niece, has brothers

Brian: Jennifer’s friend, stage actor, homosexual

Birdie: did prison time, blonde, has a tattoo of a tropical bird on her shoulder, husky voice

Melanie Prescott: Jennifer’s friend and former roommate, has a live-in boyfriend, pretty, words for the National Security Agency, was a survivor of a killer’s scheme the previous year. Lives in Maryland.

Devlin Brady: FBI agent who was involved in Melanie’s case. Won a tony award as a child.

Andrew Garrison: tall, geeky, spiked hair, thick glasses, freelance programmer, was shot while involved with a ‘real’ game.

Well developed characters even though not too much information is given. Kenner doesn’t slow things down with a lot of back story. Quick profiles and onto the action and story.

Dialogue

The main conversations are between Jennifer and Devlin. They play well off each other. Jennifer is all girl in her speech and actions.

Writing

First person from various characters. Chapters are named for the character presented. Some chapters are present tense. Relatively short chapters. Some profanity. Light-hearted tone when dealing with Jennifer. Action is quick and the sex is left to your imagination. I’ve read Kenner before and have enjoyed her stories.

My ranking:

Blue Belt

Blue

Last Days

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by Adam Nevil

Nevill

http://www.adamlgnevill.com/

Plot

Kyle Freeman is a documentary film maker down on his luck. Deep in debt, he accepts an assignment from enigmatic Max Solomon to produce a film about a cult from the 60s and 70s. The cult was ruled by Sister Katherine and spread from England to France and met its bloody end in the Sonoran desert. Kyle takes the project even though the time frame for completion is short. What he doesn’t understand is that by interviewing surviving members of the decades’ old cult and visiting the abandoned places where Sister Katherine’s madness was revealed, he is inviting forces he doesn’t understand to become aware of him. Soon, he sees shapes in the walls of old structures, his dreams are plagued with nightmarish experiences, and entities too horrible to comprehend haunt him wherever he goes. Can he find the answers before it’s too late?

I’ve read hundreds of horror stories, books filled with supernatural plots. Most of them I’ve enjoyed. Some of them I haven’t. This book ranks up those by masters like Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. This takes the typical nutty religious cult to a new level.

Characters

Kyle Freeman: early 30s, documentary film maker, in debt, smokes, owns a cat, has tattoos on his arms

Maximillian Solomon: CEO of Revelation Productions, tiny stature, graceful, glittering eyes, tanned, thin hair implants, had a facelift, was an original member of The Last Gathering cult, has a degree in Economics

Dan: Kyle’s partner, early 30s, white hair, bulky, smokes

Finger Mouse: Kyle’s film editor, early 30s, computer guru, 19th Century beard, milky green complexion

Susan White: Sister Isis when she was in The Last Gathering cult, white hair, hunched body, thin skin, blue eyes, lives in Brighton

Rachel Phillips: QC, former tenant of The Last Gathering’s house, plump, blonde, wears glasses, former United Nations employee

Arthur Smith: Brother Gabriel when a member of the The Last Gathering, wears glasses, has dandruff, thin, greasy grey curly hair, white beard, cares for his elderly mom in his small flat, bad breath

Martha Lake: 58, former member of The Temple of the Last Days in America, thin, grey lined white hair, once attractive features gone to seed, brownish teeth, smoker, drinks whiskey, has three children by three different men, came from an abusive father and alcoholic mother, dropped out of high school, took drugs

Vivid characters, detailed, in depth. They’re what you might expect, and more. The descriptions of the scene or where the characters are or live fit each character.

Dialogue

Nevill is British and so are many of his characters so there are British idioms, phrasing, and slang. Excellent voices and characterizations. A lot of the dialogue is narration by various characters explaining about the cult so there are long narratives. Because of the nature of the story, this is how the reader learns more and only adds to the bigger picture.

Writing

The book is separated into parts or sections, titled. Long chapters. Profanity. Nevill writes with incomplete sentences, starting many with conjunctions. This is not necessarily distracting and he’s experienced enough editors would allow this. Nevill is akin to Lovecraft in that he doesn’t show you the ‘monster’ in its full horror, but teases, lets the terror sneak and settle in. Some books spark the imagination. This one lit a bonfire. Some horror books never quite get going. This one leaps forward into something special.

My ranking:

Red Belt

Red