Monthly Archives: February 2015

Paranoid

Paranoid by Janice Foster - front cover - 1875x2500 (1)

By Janice Foster

janice for back of book

                                                                                                            www.janicefoster.co.za

Plot

Julia Anderson has suffered paranoia for years. She’s sure that someone is trying to kill her. Her main suspect is her fiance, Trinstan. Julia believes Trinstan is a serial killer who has been terrorizing the area of late.

Meanwhile, Casey Donovan is haunted by a heinous act he committed 25 years ago. He’s worried someone might discover the object he buried out in the woods.

Okay, I don’t mind suspense stories. This is nothing new. A girl believes her beau is a killer. Pretty basic, and I think the story reflects that basic-ness (if I am allowed to create a word here).

Characters

Casey Donovan: married with child (at the beginning of book)

Serena Donovan: 25, Casey’s daughter, Jake’s girlfriend, short red hair, tall slim, dark eyes,

Julia Anderson: 29, drives a red Jaguar F-Type, mother dead, long black hair with auburn highlights, oval face, blue eyes,

Trinston Tanner: Julia’s fiance, 6′, handsome, green eyes, short black hair, drives a Ferrari, has a brother

Jake Coltan: Julia’s brother, new attorney

The last names of some characters aren’t revealed or aren’t mentioned until later in the story. Another problem is there are no details about Trinston other than he has some family (uncle, aunt, grandfather). No employment details for him or Casey or Serena or Julia. There is a lot of surface stuff here. No real history explained about Julia’s paranoia, how she’s coped, etc.

Dialogue

Some conversations have two tag lines or two sets of dialogue with two different tag lines: “Casey,” she called, “you’re scaring me,” she exclaimed. Two tag lines aren’t needed.

Speaking of tag lines, there are too many tags other than ‘said’. ‘Said’ is fine for most instances. Too much repetition in the other tags. There are also pieces of sentences used as tag lines that can’t be.

Way too many adverbs in conversations and elsewhere and too many repetitive adverbs after tag lines. ‘Emotionally’, ‘determinedly’, ‘furiously’, ‘hysterically’, etc.

The dialogue characters have when nobody else is around is not only unrealistic, it’s irritating. The narrator can do a better job of explaining and showing the emotions or thoughts of the characters.

Writing

Capitalization problems. Misspelled words. (For instance fiance is often spelled with one ‘e’ in one sentence and two in another.) Formatting problems with varying spaces between sentences and underlined words instead of italicized. Punctuation problems, including commas missing or in the wrong places.

I didn’t get a picture of where the story takes place. A lot of woods, a lonely cabin, but no city names, time of year or other details about setting.

Characters’ thoughts aren’t realistic. People don’t think in paragraphs. Some of the lengthy internal dialogue could be explained by the narrator.

A lot of repetition in both topic (usually in conversation) and description. Once a description is given for something or someone, there is no need to repeat the description later.

When switching POV in a tense scene, there’s no need to tell the reader the POV is switching: i.e. – From the killer’s perspective… Back in the car…

Speaking of cars- Most of the first 90+ pages deal with Julia involved in an auto accident. I won’t play spoiler beyond that, but in the aftermath, nobody calls the police. Not believable, especially with what was discovered about the accident. Where’s the pesky detective mentioned? He’s doesn’t show up until late in the story. It’s as if there was another part of the story before this one that the readers don’t see.

There was too much with Julia thinking bad stuff about Trinston. Over and over, but she really doesn’t do anything, makes no plans to find more evidence, just worries every minute. There’s a serial killer out there but all of the killer’s murders are done before the story starts.

This was a very weak story all the way around.

My Rank:

White Belt

White

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The Bergamese Sect

Cover3

By Alastair Gunn

AlastairGGunn

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LF9YQSC

Plot

A small group of people seeks to solve and reveal a message concealed in an innocuous piece of email. A former lawyer is on a quest to discover the truth of a strange occurrence he experienced. A secret organization who operates behind and beyond the government controls a long held conspiracy while hiding the reality behind it…if they can secure the information from an elusive contact. And what how do they all relate to a little known Bellini painting of a Spanish monk wearing an enigmatic pendant?

I won’t divulge a lot of what the conspiracy is but part of it is revealed early on. I get excited about DaVinci Code type puzzlers, conspiracy stories, past mysteries that affect the present. Whether it’s a quest for an ancient treasure or a shadowy group controlling present day events, I love ’em.

This story has a little bit of D-Code, a nod to Ludlum, and some bizarre aspects. It’s a drawn out plot, so reserve some time for reading.

Characters

Larry Walsh: Assistant Director of the NSA, mid 40s, graying temples, bumpy complexion, dark eyes, father died in the Vietnam War

David Castro: attorney, wife and child left him, drives a Dodge truck, early 30s, black hair, studied at Yale

Matt Chambers: parents dead, ex smoker (when we first see him),

Clara: mid 20s, white hair, blue eyes, smokes

Bob Sewell: aging, gray mustache, chairman of the Daedalus committee

Ted Daintry: works in intelligence, overweight

Michael Schlessinger: Grandfather was a Nazi, short brown hair, sallow face, early 30s, wears glasses, weedy voice

A very nice variety of characters. The cast is not so large you can’t keep track of everyone, but there are characters who have a one or two scene part then disappear.

Dialogue

Some of the individual voices get lost when the conversations get lengthy and lecture-ish.

Writing

Profanity. Some capitalization errors. At least one misspelled word. In general, the writing could be a bit tighter. Some unnecessary words here and there. (‘swallowed it down’. The word ‘down’ is not needed.) In one chapter, a character is described has having a ‘bumpy complexion.’ That’s okay, but that same description is used for Walsh early in the book. It’s enough of a unique type of wording I remembered it. I didn’t think Walsh had traveled from Washington all the way to a European train so I was a bit confused.

I was also a bit confused by time. One chapter has it night in Germany and the next has it early morning-still dark-in Washington, D.C. It was difficult to determine passage of days at different points around the globe. Obviously, the two chapters I mentioned above could not have happened at the same time on the same day. 4 a.m. in Washington would be noon or so in Germany.

Otherwise, the action was good. There’s always something else right around the next corner-whether in California or Connecticut or London-that kept me turning pages. I’ll compliment the author on his research

As mentioned above, this is a lengthy novel. There are two or three ‘stories’ going on that connect to each other, but it takes some time for everything to come together. Still, it’s a good story. I think however it falls just short of Blue.

My Rank:

Purple Belt

Purple

A Killer Retreat

Killer Retreat

By Tracy Weber

Tracy Weber Small Headshot

http://TracyWeberAuthor.com

Plot

Kate Davidson, yoga instructor, has agreed to help out on Orcas Island with some classes in order to help promote a retreat. Before she even arrives on the island, she meets up with Monica, Beach Witch, who, even after settling in, continues to be a pain. Monica is the stepmother of Emmy, co-caretaker of the resort and soon-to-be new bride. Kate finds it difficult to practice the yoga peace, especially when she finds Monica dead in a hot tub and becomes the primes suspect. There are others: Monica’s current husband; the vegan chef; and even Emmy herself. With boyfriend Michael and an eccentric German Shepherd, Kate must use her yoga sleuthing skills, or the next lesson she’ll teach will be from prison. On top of the murder, she has to deal with a friend who isn’t feeling well and a boyfriend she thinks wants to hop into marriage.

This is the second in the series from Weber. I thoroughly enjoyed the first and the second gave me more. Sure, it’s a typical plot, but, like I’ve mentioned in other reviews, if the story is good, classical isn’t bad.

Characters

Kate Davidson: 32, 5’3”, owns a yoga studio, owns a German Shepherd, father dead

Michael: Kate’s boyfriend, owns a pet supply store, blue-green eyes, drives an Explorer,

Emmy: caretaker of Elysian Springs, short blond, 20s

Josh: Emmy’s fiance, caretaker of Elysian Springs, dark hair in a pony tail, beard and mustache

Monica: upper 20s, thin, blonde, smokes, owns a Jack Russel Terrier, Emmy’s stepmother

Bruce: Monica’s husband, 50s, wears glasses, balding, was married once before

Rene: Sam’s wife, Kate’s friend, brunette

Sam: has a mustache, 6′, lean, blond, blue eyes, owns a software company

Helen: Emmy mother, 50s, wears glasses, long graying hair

Dale Evans: bearded, tall, attorney, raises goats, drives a Plymouth pickup

All the usual expected cast. Of course, the story would be pretty blasé without the dog. You have to include Bella. She’s the character who keeps Kate grounded, even more than Michael. Some of the characters don’t have last names.

Dialogue

Some good voices. Dale can ham it up when needed. Monica-before her death-expressed no end of reasons to dislike her-as a baddie, not as an included character. From her first words and every conversation she had, I knew she’d end up dead. Conversations didn’t wander and included some foreshadowing and important information.

Writing

A bit of mild profanity. This took awhile to get to the corpse. The murder doesn’t happen until almost a third of the way through the book. There is some nice set up along the way. Some good humor, fun yoga knowledge.

This probably should go up in the character section but I enjoyed the diversity of Kate. Yes, she’s into yoga and the tranquility and peace it’s supposed to bring. Yet, you see that a lot of aspects of her life tend to foil that peace. From Michael to a grumpy looking student, to Monica (of course), to a hard-nosed detective. It’s nice to see some development throughout the book.

This is wonderful series and I hope it continues.

My Rank:

Blue Belt

Blue

Clear Line Of Sight

ClearLineOfSight_LOWRES

By D. C. Black

www.dcblackbooks.com

Plot

Attorney Frank Miller takes on a case to sue Internet social network companies for the ease in which sexual predators con children into becoming victims. However, the entity funding the case is a mystery. Miller hires a private investigator who is subsequently killed in an auto accident. Before he died, he left information regarding the investigation upon a computer and Sapphire, a teenager stumbles upon it. She pairs with a geocacher and soon, they are involved in something that soon will threaten their lives. And what shadowy organization is working behind the monitor to manipulate people’s lives?

There are some other side stories in this book, each, like the ‘main’ plot dealt with the Internet and some of the problems people experience.

The problem I had was because there were lots of things happening I found it difficult keeping everything straight, remembering the minor plots from chapter to chapter. Maybe if the author had settled on one or two major plot lines it would have been easier. For me, this was a convoluted book with some things having a spiderweb connection to others while other scenes had no connection to anything else.

Characters

Costa: detective, smokes

Frank Miller: lawyer, smokes, married

Sapphire Louise Gray: 16, plays keyboard, has a sister who disappeared, gray eyes, long black hair

Don Redmond: home secretary, married with children

Jake Clarke: geocacher, musician, owns a motorcycle, parents dead, has a brother

Claire: freelance journalist

Hank Taylor: private investigator, former MP in the National Guard, married

…and many, many more, some only mentioned as he or she. The problem here is that because of the plethora of characters, I found it difficult to keep everybody straight and remember, “Oh, yeah, this person was in an earlier chapter doing something.” Many characters are minor or are in part of a scene and, as mentioned below, don’t play a big enough role to be necessary. Through much of the book, there were characters introduced in almost every chapter. Three characters I don’t think were related to each other had the same last name.

One of the characters, Jethro, is a computer guru who helps Jake, Sapphire, and Miller. At first he comes off as secretive, intelligent, efficient. Throughout the book, though, his personality is all over the map. Later, it’s revealed he lives with his mother and tells her a lot of what’s going on. His stable personality falls apart.

Dialogue

The problem with so many characters is that individual voices don’t come through. Problems with tag lines as mentioned below.

Writing

First of a trilogy. Some profanity. A few misspellings. Punctuation problems (Incorrectly used or missing. Some of the missing would help clarify sentences). Commas after an exclamation point or a period in dialogue is not needed. A comma is needed instead of a period when there is a tag line, but not outside the quotes. Capitalization problems.

The prologue is set in 1978 but the next chapter doesn’t say the year had changed. I figured it out after the technology inserted itself into the story, but my mind, for a second, was still in ’78.

POV shifts abruptly at times and threw me because at one point, just when I was starting to be involved with one character, I’m pulled out of it only to discover the character wasn’t an important part of the story. Some of this was due to the various scenarios on the wide usage, good and bad, of the Internet. However, some of it was distracting and pulled me away from the main story.

Continuity problem: Hank is shown in one chapter taking a flash drive from a computer in an electronics store and running out the door only to be run over by a car. Then in a later chapter, Sapphire finds the flash drive still in the computer.

There are a lot of scenes that didn’t make sense or truly didn’t add anything to main story and they served only to confuse and distract me.

I think with everything taken into account I must go with:

White Belt

White