Monthly Archives: November 2014

The End Game

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By James Barrow


Cardiologist Robert Peterson wins what he thinks is a free cruise on a luxury yacht owned by billionaire mogul Bradley Rand. Peterson invites his long time and long distance ‘girlfriend’ Alexis Williams. They plan to discuss their relationship and develop it into something closer and long lasting. However, Rand has his own plans. Plans for retribution for an incident that happened years before.

Okay, this looked like a pretty good thriller. However, as the story went along I kept waiting for the thriller part.


Alexis Williams: attorney, graduated University of British Columbia Law School, part of a foundation to help children in need, shoulder length dark hair, has a sister

Robert Peterson: 6’2”, head of cardiology, chairs the Child Care Fund, attended University of Toronto Medical School, father was a doctor, owns a Land Rover and a Mercedes

Bradley Rand: owns a yacht, owns Rand Holding Corp., dark hair with a touch of gray, deep dark eyes, grandfather bought real estate, drives a Bentley, parents dead, had a brother

Eric Bannenberg: yacht captain

Francois Durand: chef

There is an overload of information about characters. Too much on the minor characters that are seen for one or two chapters. A lawyer, a doctor, and a mogul are the main three and they’re okay, but they’re so introspective and deep…it’s just too much to take in. The character development from point A to point B is just too long.


Problems with the beginning sentence following the identity of the speaker and with the continuation of dialogue after tag line in that the first word is not capitalized when it should be. Some of the conversations sound like speeches to be given to an audience rather than the normal way people talk with each other. Too much lofty prose in the talk. All of the characters talk like this so there are no individual voices.

Other conversations sound like deep think tank discussion groups.

When the danger is imminent the dialogue is like obeying the Queensberrry rules. It’s too formal and not how one would speak in a tense situation.


A lot of flowing prose. POV jumps within a scene tend to be a bit jolting. Pieces of sentences set after dialogue that need to be a separate sentence. Some misspelled words. Missing punctuation. Very little profanity.

This is a long and drawn out story I kept expecting something to happen but there was no foreshadowing, no intimation when or if anything would develop. Nearly the entire book is introspection, deep philosophical discussion, and revealing information about the three characters.

It’s a psychological thriller but again, there’s too much walking around in the minds of these people, too much talking, and not enough physical action to offset it. By the time any tension and suspense shows, I was ready for the story just to end.

With the obvious mistakes in grammar and punctuation, I have to go with:

Yellow Belt



Death By Didgeridoo


By Barbara Venkataraman



A Florida rock star with few friends is murdered by a didgeridoo, and Jamie Quinn’s cousin, Adam, has confessed. While Adam’s case grinds through the system, Jamie takes it upon herself to investigate other suspect. The other members of the band. A devoted fan. Other music teachers where the musician worked.

I listened to the audio book. Sometimes I want a no-nonsense, non-complex story. Just a plain old good murder mystery. This is one of those.


Jamie Quinn: mother-dead-was a nurse, short, olive-skinned, insomniac, attorney but unemployed at the beginning of book, attended Noble Law School, started as an English Lit. major, owns a cat, drives a Mini Cooper, vegetarian

Adam Muller: 22, Jamie’s cousin, blonde curly hair, fair complexion, takes drum lessons, has Asperberger’s Syndrome

Margaret Muller: 43, Adam’s mother, has two puppies: Scottish Terrier and Irish Setter, divorced, elementary school teacher

Grace Anderson: works for a securities firm as an attorney, attended Noble Law School

Nick Demetropolis: handsome, works in the D.A. office, father is a state senator

Susan Doyle: public defender

Marian Wollinsky: treasurer of Spike Enterprises, Inc., tattooed

Duke Bressard: divorced three times, private investigator, tanned

Dr. Simon: 50s, trim, salt and pepper hair

Typical cast for a murder mystery. Enough information to form a good mental picture. Since I listened to the audio version, forgive me if there are any misspelled names. A minor problem I had was Quinn didn’t do a lot of the talking and investigating the suspects. She only talked to one while the PI did a lot of the legwork. I might have been nice to see some of the other band members or the teachers. Most of the ‘clues’ came from second and third parties.


Good voices. The narrator did a good job of distinguishing different voices. No conversation was wasted and provided important information. The PI’s voice comes through the best.


First person from Quinn’s POV. Very straightforward mystery. The scenes are what you would expect in this type of book except: No action. No tension. No real back and forth adversarial stuff between heroine and prosecutor. No bad guy threatening the heroine somewhere in the middle or at the end. No surprises.

My Rank:

Green Belt


The Big Goodbye


By Michael Lister



Panama City, FL. 1943. When a former lover comes a’callin, private eye Jimmy Riley is thrown for a loop. Lauren Lewis, married to a mayoral candidate says someone is following her and wonders if it’s Riley. Soon, he’s in over his head with blackmail and murder…and Lauren has disappeared.

It’s a plot right from the pages of noir and pulp fiction. Your typical (yet not) P.I. mystery with all the right elements.


Jimmy ‘Soldier’ Riley: 27, private investigator, missing right arm, former cop, smokes, lives at a hotel

Lauren Lewis: Riley’s former lover, dark brown hair, dark eyes, has several burn scars, parents dead

Harry Lewis: 60s, Lauren’s husband, banker, running for mayor, wispy gray hair, blue eyes

July: Riley’s part time secretary, short hair, round and full face, long and thin neck

Raymond Parker: 60, Riley’s partner, former Pinkerton agent, former cop, drives a Packard, square frame

Ruth Ann Johnson: Salvation Army nurse, missing a leg, small frame, blonde, blue eyes

Cliff Walton: Lewis’ security, big man, smokes

Ann Everett: Lewis’ psychologist, short blonde hair, green eyes, wears glasses

Nice cast with some expected types. The floozy, the politician, the beef, the gangster, the cops. Didn’t find one I didn’t like.


Some very good voices. Conversations didn’t waver. They never do in this type of book. I could picture each character, a lot of time through their voices.


First person from Riley’s POV. Some unnecessary profanity. Really, this story would have been just fine without the f-bombs. Continuity problem: In one chapter Ray is said to be 60 but in the next he’s said to be almost double of Riley’s age of 27. Author constantly misspelled lightning.

I’ve always enjoyed these stories even though there are similarities with them all. Maybe the expected stuff is what I enjoy. This one is a nice juicy mystery with a lot of angles and bad guys to spare. Action is quick and decisive with no fooling around.

My Rank:

Purple Belt


The Demeter Code


By Russell Brooks



Target: Umari. CIA operatives Ridley Fox and Nita Parris are back for another adventure in international intrigue. This time they’re after a terrorist named Umari. To track him down, they have to discover what is on a hard drive that is making its way through the underworld. What does it have to do with Sementem, an bio-agro company? Corporate sabotage? Or something more. And, while Fox and Parris reveal clue after clue, there are those who are out to eliminate loose ends.

This was complex plot to follow. Unlike a lot of thrillers, the author leads you on, showing glimpses of the whole picture. Sometimes, if you have everything laid out up front, you’re just seeing how the heroes get through the fight. If there’s mystery, well, that’s makes it a bit better.


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

Dewan Douglas: CIA computer whiz, black, 6′, thin

Tim Weyland: 5’9”, wears glasses, 150 pounds

Aubrey Lee Collins: married, wife is pregnant

Mitchell Staynor: CEO of Sementem, lost a son to meningitis

Katy Sparks: quality control agent for Elemental Food Services, has a microbiology degree, in financial straits

Monzer Alghafari: 60s, close cut gray hair, smoker and drinker, Syrian, owns and import/export business, deals in illegal weapons, had an older brother, married with four daughters, lives in Marbella, Spain,

Jill St. John: shoulder length blonde hair

There were a lot of characters in this one, some minor who didn’t last but one chapter, some introduced and saved for later. A lot of personalities to contend with, and the author sort of expects you to have read the first novel in this series. It’s not necessary, but a good idea.


When it comes to normal conversation, the dialogue is fine. When it comes to the action dialogue-threats of the bad guys, etc., it’s a bit weaker.


Chapters headed by location and time. Profanity. One sex scene. Tense problems. Error in numbers. In one chapter Alghafari is said to have had four daughters but in another he has three. Tighter writing needed: …each with a single red dot on their foreheads. This should read: …each with a single red dot on his forehead. ‘Each’ is singular. ‘Their’ is plural. ‘Each’ must match the next part of the sentence. Similar problems to Pandora’s Succession in ‘ing’ and ‘ly’ words and multiple ‘ing’ words in the same sentence inferring that several actions are taking place at the same time, which in many instances can’t happen. Overuse of ‘as’. Good technical knowledge that is explained without a lot of ‘big’ words that the reader can’t understand.

I enjoyed the complexity of the plot, but I did mention in the Pandora review that I expected the author to improve and not have so many mistakes. The ‘as’ the ‘ly’ words really were too much. So, I have to knock the rank down one belt.

My Rank:

Camouflage Belt