Monthly Archives: October 2014

Unsavory Delicacies

Unsavory DelicaciesNewCover

By Russell Brooks



A three-in-one book.

Creme Brulee: a rogue operative tries to convince a software tech to sell her a program to control drones. However, not everybody is who he claims to be.

To The Last Bite: A restaurant reviewer bites off a bit more than he can chew when he faces a former panned chef.

Shashlyk And Morozhenoe: Ridley Fox infiltrates a mobster’s lair to steal some plans.

Short stories all, in their own way, with a food theme. They’re quick reads. The first two were okay but the last wasn’t complete in that it left a lot of questions unanswered.


Monique Beauvais: name is an alias, works for an international arms consortium, black hair

Curtis White: name is an alias, suffers from dandruff, 30s, auburn hair

Dennis Kirby: restaurant reviewer

Ridley Fox: CIA operative, fluent in several languages

Efim Volsky: bearded, tall, heavyset, bodyguard, needs reading glasses

Maksim Antanov: 20s, slim, restaurant owner, mobster

Nice variety of characters. Not too bad but because these were really short stories there wasn’t much background. I thought Antonov, for being a powerful mobster came off looking like a weenie.


Most of the conversations were okay. Some lines didn’t fit the characters or the situation.


Profanity. Stories headed by location. Action was quick and decisive with no real element of danger. The heroes were never shown to be in too much peril. Some issues with ‘ly’ and ‘ing’ words. Little tension. These shorts could have been expanded to give the reader a bit more (no pun intended) meat.

My Rank:

Camouflage Belt



Pandora’s Succession

Pandora's Succession_ebook_edited-1

By Russell Brooks



Code-named Pandora, it is a highly infectious microbe with no known antidote. A terrorist group, known as the Arms of Ares are trying to develop it to sell on the black market. Enter CIA operative Ridley Fox, still grieving over his fiance’s death. He’s been assigned to retrieve Pandora and help shut down Ares. Soon, he teams with operative Nita Parris who has infiltrated a pharmaceutical company suspected of being involved with brainwashing…and Pandora. Their relationship is rocky, but their goal is to bring down whoever threatens not only world peace, but millions of lives. But who can they trust, because their foe has spies everywhere…

Nice thriller. Well thought out. Some timely aspects of biological terror included.


Ridley Fox: 6’2”, CIA operative, former Joint Task Force Two operative, fiance was murdered two years before beginning of story, fluent in several languages, played football and rugby

Nita Parris: black, grew up in Barbados, participated in track, CIA operative, attended Princeton University, has a doctorate in Biology, mother dead, father absent in her life,

Sveta Sokolova: husband dead, Russian

Valerik: name is an alias, former KGB operative, member of the Arms of Ares, smoker, overweight

Tabitha Marx: mid forties, has a doctorate, 6′, ice blue eyes, long dirty blonde hair, father-dead-worked as a CIA operative in Pakistan, mother-dead-worked for the KGB, works for the CDC, widowed, code name: Undertaker

Hideaki Hashimoto: 64, 5’7”, fit, doctorate of Pharmaceutical Sciences from Tokyo University, CEO of Hexagon Pharmaceuticals, knowledgeable in brain washing techniques

Tomas Levickis: of Lithuanian descent, bearded, CIA technical field agent, slightly overweight

Pretty solid characters. They reminded me a little of the cast of the old G.I. Joe cartoons in that you have a few heroes against an array of baddies and each contingent of the bad guys are fighting another for power while fending off the good guys.


Average in that I didn’t get a real sense of voices. Fox’s boss (es) could have had some gruffness as I imagine Generals and Colonels sometimes have. Marx came through okay but I think the conversations were just shy of being 100% strong. I don’t think it was a matter of the author trying too hard, just that the dialogue lacked that last bit of punch to make it really solid. Part of this problem may lie in the writing section.


Profanity. Chapters headed by time and/or location. Some problems with sentences that have an action: …he let his palm drop into his hand… and then following that with an ‘ing’ word …,massaging his forehead. These two actions in the same sentence make it seem as if they’re happening at the same time. You can’t drop and massage at the same time. You can drop, then massage. There are several instances like this. Unnecessary words: …stood two feet away from him. The reader knows it’s ‘him’ being referred to, so ‘from him’ isn’t needed. A lot of usage of the word ‘as’. A few tense problems: ‘has’ instead of ‘had’ in a past tense sentence.

In general, the writing could have been a bit tighter as for example this: Marx leaned so close to Parris’s ear that she felt her breath tickle the surface of her skin. I know what the author meant, that Marx was so close when speaking (in the previous line of dialogue) that Parris felt Marx’s breath on her skin. However, the way the sentence is written, that’s not the connotation derived.

Now, having pointed out these weaknesses, I will admit the story was good. Fine plot, pretty exciting action although I wanted more emotion and pain depicted. The author did well on technology and explaining medicalese. No part of the story dragged. I would have enjoyed a bit more of a surprise each time a new traitor was revealed.

With all of that said, I enjoyed the book, but with the mistakes and weakness in the writing, I had to knock down the rank from a potential blue. I gave serious consideration for camouflage, but sometimes at rank advancement testings for my students I have to judge overall effort and while not just arbitrarily giving away the next rank I may lean in the positive direction and know that I’ll have work with the student so he can perform better next time. So, if I may be forgiven the run on sentence I just wrote, I’ll add in the ‘likeability’ factor to this book and give it a:

Green Belt

(Note: I’ve accepted two other books from this author so, I will hope, as all of us authors should strive for, that the writing improves with each book…no more Mr. Nice Guy. Lol.)


The Errant Petty Officer


By Miro Ringbolt



1981. On a vacation dive off the coast of Kenya, Petty Officer Patrick Redman discovers a jeweled pendant stuck in the reef. Back upon the surface, though, tragedy strikes and, Jurgen, one of his friends, dies. Weeks later, the police learn of the pendant and arrest the owner of the dive and charter business, Stella, and Thomas, an associate for murder. Redman, meanwhile, is discharged from service for narcotics. When he learns that his friends are trial for their lives, he makes plans to return to Kenya to prove their innocence.

Not quite the plot I was expecting but an intriguing little mystery nonetheless. It’s a straightforward plot with some adventure, danger, and courtroom drama all thrown in.


Patrick Redman: British, Petty officer, mother dead, father estranged, atheist

Jurgen Kluge: grew up in Switzerland, 6’7”, muscular, shoulder length blond hair

Ayo: black, Maasi, tall, broad

Thomas Dennie: from St. Vincent, dreadlocks, smokes marijuana, wiry, thin, short

Adhra: 38, Thomas’s girlfriend, black African, large almond colored eyes, father murdered, works for a land developer

Stella Friedmann: German, mid thirties, brown hair, blue eyes, tattoo on lower back, used to be a finance administrator

Lisbeth: Stella’s cousin, tall, slender-limbed, freckles, pale, 20s, green eyes, bisexual

Meja Njenga: Professor at Nairobi University, thin frizzy hair, around 60, has a doctorate

Nyoro Gacoya: 55, African, killer, slim build

A fine variety of characters with a lot of minor characters who play their own roles.


Voices come through very well. Thomas and his Caribbean accent, many of the African and Great Britain accents as well.


Chapters are titled. Lengthy chapters. Profanity. Author exhibits his knowledge of diving, ships and the sea.

This is a lengthy drawn out book with many scenes that probably could have been deleted. Let me clarify, I’m not saying they weren’t good scenes. In fact, I didn’t dislike any of them. I felt, however, that some of them could have either been shortened, tightened up, or outright deleted because they didn’t offer anything to the main plot. Thomas and his prison problems, for instance. They were okay and I was able to see the troubles he had and how he solved them, but they didn’t help move the story along. Just plan to spend some time reading this. I received a PDF file and it contained 565 pages. It’s a good story. I expected an Indiana Jones type of adventure what with the ancient pendant found, but it turned into a mystery/courtroom battle/drama type. A few minor mistakes in punctuation but otherwise from the ocean to the African savannah, a solid piece of writing.

My Rank:

Blue Belt


Kelly Blue


By Allan Danahay

Me2 041


On a stakeout for a client, private investigator Kelly Wynton sees a local gangster is involved in the case. The next night, after a car chase in town, Kelly runs across a murder victim. The next morning, the woman he’s been watching is found dead. Who killed whom? Why? Whatdo the murders have to do with a cat burglar known as Spiderman? Kelly must wade through the suspects, the corruption, and blackmail in order to ferret out the truth.

A nice complex murder mystery set in Australia. Some times I cringe when I receive mysteries set outside of America, but I took a chance with this one and wasn’t too disappointed.


James Kelly Wynton: 32, private investigator, loves jazz, drives a Ford Territory, former police officer, owns a Ducati Monster

Spiderman”: 28, female, cat burglar, slender build, drives a Ducati Monster

Danielle: 16, large breasts, father is a lawyer

Damian Black: 20, drives a black Nissan Skyline, mechanic

Max Busby: James’ boss, fifties, former police officer

Charles Diamond: mid sixties, career criminal, drives an Audi, homosexual,

Terry Doyle: homicide investigator,

Elaine Norman: Brothel owner

Jonno Hetaraka: private investigator, drives a Nissan Murano SUV

Long cast of characters with just enough info to get a picture of them. Yes, Spiderman’s name is revealed later.


As mentioned below, run-on sentences which tended to make me lose the gist of the conversation. Most of the characters tend to speak this way.


Chapters headed by date and time. Except for the prologue, it is first person from Kelly’s POV. A lot of run-on sentences. In fact entire paragraphs consist of one sentence. Misuse of ellipsis and other incorrect and missing punctuation in many areas. The missing punctuation makes it very difficult to read and understand some of the shorter sentences, let alone the lengthy ones. Profanity. A few misspelled words. Writing could be tighter. Sentences often are too wordy or detailed to get the point across.

I like the story. It’s a well laid out plot, well told, good action. An all-around fine mystery but the above mistakes must reduce an otherwise higher rank to:

Camouflage Belt