Monthly Archives: April 2015

Going Under


By Silas Payton


What is the connection between two murders, an apparent suicide, biker gangs, and the mob? Toronto Inspector Bill Roberts and his team are after the answer to that question.

A straightforward plot, not complicated.


Bill Roberts: Toronto police inspector, 6′, 190, out of shape, recently suffered a broken leg, widower, has two children

Barry Nelson: psychiatrist

Sarah Elliot: married, does triathlons

Cliff Jones: 50, sergeant under Roberts, married with children

Niccola Coppola: married, CEO or the Toronto Port Authority

A lot of characters, most of them minor. Not a lot of physical description other than some on Roberts. One character’s reaction to the situation was not believable. If a person is in front of you, bleeding and saying he’s just been stabbed, your reaction had better be something other than casual.


Conversations don’t wander and some good voices. Roberts’ comes through pretty good. Also Nelson’s.


Fairly short chapters. Chapters headed by the character focused on. Some profanity.

Some tense problems switching from past to present. An easy, quick read. One surprise at the end.

This story could have more punch if it had been drawn out a bit more. This is a relatively shorter book than most novels. There are attempts at humor and I think, for the most part, they’re okay. It moves along fast with no red herrings. The reader knows who the bad guy is pretty much right up front. The ending, while a surprise, might have been set up a bit more, maybe with some foreshadowing.

Still not too bad of a read.

My Rank:

Green Belt



Reagan’s Ashes

Regan's Ashes eBook (mini)

By Jim Heskitt



Reagan Darby’s father is dead. His last request was for her to take his ashes and dump them in a lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. She decides to take the route she and her father had taken the last time. Unfortunately, her cousins Dalton and Charlie have invited themselves along. Along the way, she discovers a secret in her father’s urn. Does it have to do with the real reason Dalton is present?

Meanwhile, Reagan’s injured boyfriend, Liam, is stuck back at her stepmother, Anne’s house with his own problems and wanting to investigate a shady character who is bothering Anne. Are there connections? What do you think?

Decent plot. A little mystery, a little quest story, but I think this settles a bit more on the character driven side.


Reagan Darby: 24, father dead, dropped out of college, works at a restaurant, drives a Honda Accord, suffers from manic/depression

Anne: step-mom, alcoholic, drives a Suburu Outback

Dalton Darby: Reagan’s cousin, gaunt face, thin, tattoos on his arm, smokes, used to sell marijuana, was in the Boy Scouts

Charlie Darby: Dalton’s brother, overweight, uses an inhaler

Liam ‘Spoon’ Witherspoon: Australian, fair-haired, Reagan’s boyfriend, using crutches for an injured knee from Australian football, recovering alcoholic, employed a tech support representative, used to box

Some very nice characters although I didn’t have a mental image of a couple characters (Reagan for example) because of a lack of description. Otherwise, personalities, quirks, conditions, and such al combine to round out the cast. I also like that each is distinct. There’s no blending even with the alcoholism shared by Spoon and Anne. You know the good and the bad, the strong and the weak.


Dalton’s voice comes through as do the parts where Reagan starts experiencing her manic/depressive symptoms. Actually, I think every character has a pretty good distinctive voice. Conversations don’t wander but impart some importance either for the present or foreshadowing something later.


Book separated by Days. Chapters and scene changes headed by time. Profanity. I sort of understand why almost two-thirds of the way through the book, the tense shifts from past to present when it’s Reagan’s scenes but it isn’t necessary.

I enjoy when authors are knowledgeable about what they’re writing. In this book, Heskitt give you tidbits into the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Australians, and bipolar disease. (I know, weird combination, right? Lol). The point is, there’s no vagueness or obvious guessing and hoping that what he writes will be believed. It helped me enjoy it rather than wishing he’d get into more detail.

The one thing that stopped me in my tracks-and I won’t be playing spoiler for the rest of the story-is in one scene, Reagan shoulder blocks an attacking moose. Now before you go nuts, I discussed this scene with the author, and he mentioned that his intent was to show the mental state of Reagan at the time and for the reader to pick up on what is going on with her. I hope other readers will understand, but although I understood some of her mental state in succeeding chapters, I didn’t catch the references to or with this scene. Again, that’s just me.

Pretty solid and tight writing. I found two capitalization errors, but otherwise all good. Very enjoyable story by a fundamentally knowledgeable author.

My Rank:

Purple Belt


Ribbons Of Death

Ribbons of Death

By Edita A. Petrick

Edita 1


There is an ancient legend that one of the gods cursed humanity. A figure known as the Peacetaker is born repeatedly throughout the centuries. Does that legend bear any truth? Professor Stella Hunter, author of a mythology book, didn’t think so. That is until an enigmatic stranger named Carter shows her a video of a women’s rally that turned tragic. This is followed by a suddenly violent Washington demonstration. Is there an actual person who can turn ordinary people into killers? If so, how can he, or she, be stopped. Hunter and Carter must find the answer before the world devolves into chaos.

I enjoy mysteries/adventures with history mixed with fiction. Legends, ancient documents, secret cabals, all that sort of thing. This book is a dip into that pool. Adventure and intrigue abound.


Stella Hunter: 45, professor at Michigan University, published author, married with children, a bit overweight, orange hair, parents-dead-were missionaries, attended Oxford, used to play softball, has a peanut allergy

Nicola Moses: 65, billionaire, dusky skin, black hair, dark eyes, married with children, owns the Meridian Obelisk Corporation, has three sisters who are dead, parents and other family dead, attended Oxford

Timothy J. Carter: 43, not his real name, divorced, has a teenage daughter while the other daughter is dead, former Army Ranger, works as a government contractor

Paige Smith: FBI agent in Washington D.C., used to work in Atlanta, freckled

Kevin Denton: Smith’s partner

Martin Kirsch: director of a museum in Toronto, wears glasses, drives a BMW SUV

Abigail McEwan: museum curator, married with a daughter, Ph.d, had an affair with Hunter’s husband, has similar features to Hunter’s

I like the interplay between Hunter and Carter. Hunter’s the stronger and Carter, I think, enjoys exasperating her often. I kept waiting for Carter’s strengths to come through, but for awhile he basically followed Hunter wherever she thought she needed to go. He made good points this only went to show Hunter’s expertise. For much of the time, he seemed bored by the entire mess. Even though he played hero sometimes, he was less action-oriented than I would have thought.


Good voices. The biggest concern I have with these types of stories is that they tend to become lectur-ish because somebody has to explain to the reader what is going on. Has to explain the history, the legends, etc. Sometimes, those lectures become lengthy and I get to the point of thinking, “Get on with it.” Meaning the story.

This book had some lecturing but each time the conversation didn’t turn into a marathon session. The ‘history’ was concise and to the point with little interruption or digression.

One problem I’ve encountered a lot in recent reviews: sentences used as tag lines that can’t be tag lines. It isn’t a major problem, but an instance or two.


Some chapters headed by location and date and Egyptian mythology.

Profanity. A few misspelled words, but not enough to distract. Okay, it’s a little thing, but I did tire of Hunter and Carter constantly mulling over how their quarry entered the country legally. The author overused the word legally. Yes, it was over several chapters, but find another word or way of saying the same thing over and over.

I enjoyed the action, the ‘chase’ to find the answer by Hunter and Carter. The ending, though, was anti-climactic. Sure, our heroes avoided the danger and saved an innocent, but the rescue was a bit quick and the fate of one of the guilty parties wasn’t explained. Well, it was, sort of, but I would have enjoyed a classic showdown or concrete evidence of the person’s demise. As to the other guilty party, his fate was fitting but I would have liked to have seen it, rather than been told about it. (You know, the old adage about showing not telling?)

Because of the several bits of off-ness mentioned with character strength and writing, and even though I enjoyed the book, I have to be fair. So…

My Rank:

Green Belt


Killer Of Killers

Killer of Killers Cover

By Mark DeRobertis



Master Martial artist Trent Smith is on a mission. He is a dealer of justice to killers who have walked away from murder charges. One problem, though. The men he kills are part of test group for billionaire Abraham Soriah who’s developed and promoting a drug to heal wounds and injuries faster and may reverse aging, but also has tragic side affects. Trent is also wary of a beautiful homicide investigator out of the San Francisco area who knows all about Soriah and would like to know what Smith is all about.

Verrrry interesting plot. There are hints of familiarity from other stories here, but this is something fresh for those who need something a little different.


Trent Smith: not his real name, master of martial arts, 5’9”, 195 lbs,

Josh Jones: Blond, handsome, drives a white Mercedes, played pro football, around 6’7” and 300 lbs

Samantha Jones: Josh’s sister, blonde, blue eyes, homicide investigator, around 5’7”

Silvio Gutto: Samantha’s Captain, middle aged, overweight

Amman Bey: Turkish, has a mustache and facial scar, drug dealer, owns a limo

Karl Manoukian: middle aged, dark eyes, wears glasses, graying black hair but going bald, former employee of Soriah, wealthy

Abraham Soriah: billionaire, elderly, white hair, long and thin face

Susie Quinn: black, stripper, long black hair, small nose, bisexual

Soriah comes across as a classic Bond villain, somebody who believes he’s king but over the top in doing so. There’s the ‘girls’ in Quinn andSamantha, the ‘hero’, of sorts, in Smith (even with a Bond-like sexual prowess), and a nice cast of side characters who pop up to provide some color and intrigue. The one character missing is the quirky baddie with the unique body feature or way of killing people. (lol) Not much physical description of Trent. And his decision at the very end, after all that he’d gone through, didn’t seem quite right.


Susie’s voice comes through. The book is not too long so conversations don’t wander to far afield. Some of the dialogue is a bit off. In one scene, for instance, Smith is being chased by the bad guys and people keep asking him, “Are you the guy they’re after?” What a goofy question. As if they really expect someone to answer with honesty: “Yes, I’m the guy causing all the problems, please report me.” This type of dialogue doesn’t happen often but enough for me to notice and wonder, Huh?


Titled chapters.

The action is quick, even in the longer fight scenes. A couple instances of profanity.

There is a bit of background on Trent and some recollections of his martial lessons throughout the years, but I wondered about the reason Trent left Japan. His motivation for coming back to America to start killing killers isn’t very solid. To mete out justice, I don’t think, is a strong enough motive. It should have been something that affected him on a deep person level. The minor explanation doesn’t make complete sense. Nor is it mentioned how he affords to travel/eat.

There are some good martial arts, martial arts training/reflection, and a ‘trick’ with diversionary smoke. That’s fine. A little razzle-dazzle doesn’t hurt, but the author needs to explain the trick, even if it’s a ‘Doc Savage hidden capsule in the lining of his shirt’ type of thing. Otherwise the reader doesn’t get to enjoy the fun.

There is some medicalese that is explained.

What isn’t quite believable is in one scene Soriah’s associate lets Trent know that Trent is better at killing because he doesn’t leave a mark. However, Soriah had to pay off a pathologist to falsify records so the external marks might not be apparent, but any good post-mortem doctor will find C.O.D.

Part of the ending scenes I didn’t understand. It went from a straight thriller into shades of Robin Cook with a metaphysical something-or-other from Trent that threw me.

It’s a good story, but confusing in some places. I hope sequels will delve into Trent a bit more, explain a bit more. The clean writing (no punctuation, spelling, capitalization errors), kept it from being ranked lower.

My Rank:

Green Belt