Monthly Archives: March 2016

Judicial Indiscretion


By Michael Arkin



Who killed a prominent New Mexico judge? Was it a developer? A Mexican drug runner? The law thinks the killer is David Madrid, attorney. David’s sister reaches out to her friend, Matt Lucas for assistance. With his team in place and some help from friendly cops, Matt sets out to discover who really is the guilty party.

Nice legal plot involving a wide list of suspects. Good personal stories are included which help.


David Madrid: attorney, divorced, alcoholic, dad dead, has two children, 5;7:, brown eyes, brown hair

Linda Lawson: Madrid’s half-sister, newspaper reporter, brunette, blue eyes, athletic, widow

Matt Lucas: Private investigator and lawyer, 57, divorced with three children, drives a Corvette and a white Toyota truck

Jeffe Saizman: District Attorney, dark complexion, black hair

Brian Nichols: felon, 6’2”, ex prison guard

Amber James: lawyer, large eyes, light brown hair with red/blonde highlights

There’s another P.I. and some shady characters in the cast. Most of the cast is well used. Some physical descriptions help.


This is where the biggest problems lie. Most of the dialogue is not natural to how people really speak. Most of the dialogue is made up of long paragraphs, long explanatory paragraphs, long detailed paragraphs. A lot are the telling of previous conversations and have direct dialogue from the other party included. Because of these long paragraphs, I lost interest in them because most of the interviews and investigations that were done and then explained could have been shown at the time they were happening or summarized a lot quicker.

I found it amusing that after chapters and chapters of lengthy dialogue, Lucas becomes irritated near the end with an explanation from a professor – which wasn’t nearly as long as some of his colleague’s conversations.

Some of the internal dialogue used italics, some didn’t and this needed to be tightened.

Most of the characters tended not to use contractions when normal dialogue would include them.


Book is separated into Parts.

Some profanity. 1st person from Matt’s POV during his scenes and third person POV other times.

Little tension throughout with only one action scene. Okay, two, but nothing very dangerous about the second. Most of this book, as described above, was lengthy conversations.

I didn’t quite understand Nichols’ role other than his ex wife is Matt’s girlfriend and Nichols hangs around trying to pick up information regarding her whereabouts. He’s a felon on the run, and takes off after he recognizes Matt in a diner, but there was no indication that there was any danger. Matt didn’t find out who Nichols was until much later. Nichols comes and goes and his role is a bit confusing.

Another thing I didn’t think worked was the extensive focus on Madrid’s alcoholism and his working through the 12-step program in jail. Some of it revealed some insight into his character and the mystery, but a lot of it, I felt, was not needed. Plus, the book covered only the first 5 steps so it’s unknown whether David went on to complete the program.

My Rank:

Camouflage Belt



After The Evil


By Cary Allen Stone



A serial killer who castrates her victims. A homicide investigator trying to recover after the justifiable shooting of a young girl. An FBI agent thrown back into the presence of her former employer and boyfriend.

A good plot. Well thought out. Not sure if I like knowing who the killer is right away because it takes away from the suspense at the end.


Nick Parker: airline pilot, married, drives a Lincoln Navigator

Anthony Moralli: priest, dark hair and eyes, olive complexion

Jake Roberts: homicide investigator, American Indian

Thaddeus Abrams: 46, psychiatrist, married, 190 lb, 6′, brown hair, green eyes, scar on right elbow

Ed Fairchild: Roberts’ supervisor, married with children, smokes cigars

Mika Scott: FBI agent, black hair

Lori Powers: flight attendant, daughter dead, blonde, cyan eyes

Harmon Blackwell, black, Roberts’ partner, large man

A nice cast. Not too much physical descriptions for the main people so it was a bit difficult getting a mental image. I think Roberts and Harmon play well off each other. It might have been nice to get into the former relationship between Mika and Jake more.


As mentioned some nice interchanges between Harmon and Jake with Mika thrown into the mix sometimes. Lori’s internal dialogue with her daughter is a nice touch and adds to her ‘badness’.


Here’s where I have some problems. No profanity which is okay, but it might have added something with just a bit. I know that’s rare to say, but it is a cop/killer story and profanity adds realism.

Some misspelled words: you’re daughter should be your daughter and I don’t know how you can pea on a wall.

The major issue was POV and tense. When in first person from Jake’s POV the tense is present, although it changed at one point near the beginning when I was trying to figure it all out. With scenes other than Jake it’s third person past tense. The problem I had was when it was first person present with Jake the POV shifted to other characters. For instance, in a scene with Jake and Lori, Lori leaves the room and the POV shifts to her. Still in present tense. This happens a lot and for first person, using the word ‘I’, the POV can’t shift. I don’t think it works.

Too much physical distance and time passing between the good guys and the killer at the end. I knew the ending before Jake and Harmon arrived on scene which lessened the suspense.

This is the first of a series and Jake has a lot of potential.

My Rank:

Green Belt


The Conspiracy Of Silence


By Augustine Sam

Augustine Sam


Benjamin Carlton, television star, is on trial for the murder of the wife of the California’s governor. Carlton’s girlfriend, Rita Spencer is his lawyer, but she has stumbled into a conspiracy spanning Washington politics.

Okay, this is the basic plot, which is fine, but once I delved into it, I discovered there were a lot of problems that went beyond basic.


Benjamin Carlton: black, television star

Rita Spencer: Carlton’s girlfriend, attorney, slender, hazel eyes, long mahogany colored hair

Frank Talbott: 40, mobster, smokes cigars

Bruce Travis: smokes, former FBI academy instructor

Manuel Ernesto Rodriguez: drives a Jeep

Brent Greenburger: homicide investigator, married, two sons

There’s also a guy named Leland, who works for a branch of the FBI. Except for Rita, no real physical descriptions. Many people don’t act as one would expect them to. Talbot, who I thought was an interesting character, is brought in early, then never seen again. The two bad guy flunkies are ridiculous in their actions and dialogue. Speaking (no pun intended) of dialogue:


Major issue here. Everybody talks to him/herself. A lot. They speak in complete sentences out loud…to themselves. Where a narrator should be explaining this, the characters think in complete sentences, which isn’t normal. There are some B-movie lines. Characters’ dialogue don’t match their personality or their profession.

Example: Greenburger in a disagreement with his superior – “With all due respect, let me oppose you,” he whined while gathering courage… No cop speaks like that.

Rita, standing in line for popcorn after speaking with Leland who was telling her a shocking story. “Lord!” she cried. “They are closing in on me, the sinister cartel, the FBI, and worst of all, the Shadow of Death-the greatest mob hit-man of all time-according to Leland; a phenomenal killer who entered a hotel sauna, plunked down his towel like a normal steam-bather, strangled the senator while they were both naked, and then dissolved into thin air without being spotted.” – Okay, let’s move past the fact this is one of the worst examples of a run-on sentence and realize, she’s saying this aloud…to herself…while in line for popcorn. Really? And nobody gives her a weird look? The governor, too, has his own scene of walking around having a conversation with himself.

While I’m here with Leland and Rita, their entire conversation is inane. In the midst of this fantastic story about political murder and other nasty business, Rita asks him his age and he wonders that Rita, the lawyer, uses profanity.


Profanity. Not much, but just enough to be unnecessary.

I think the author tried too hard to convey the ideas in the book with language and words that were off.

The plot dumps the reader right into the murder case, then backs up and shows some of the investigation.

Abrupt POV shifts. At least one misspelled word. Misuse of semi-colons and commas. In one sentence there is a mixture of past and present tense. Repetitious words. A lot of people ‘pause’. Leland ‘pauses dramatically’, and an attorney ‘turns dramatically’, which is weak writing.

The FBI is portrayed as inept and this is not believable. The FBI bodyguards are worthless as they can’t keep Rita from sneaking in and out of the hotel each day for court. Leland, hospitalized, is frantic that there’s a mole inside the FBI and he can’t trust anybody, including his bodyguards. Yet, a scene later, both the guards and Leland allow the bad guy posing as a doctor to waltz right into the room without a suspicion.

Part of the plot involves Rita possessing a diary that both the baddies and the FBI want. The baddies can’t seem to kill her and the FBI are apparently stymied by her refusal to turn over the diary to them. So much so the FBI Director makes an appearance and he is denied. Really?

Not believable – a high profile trial involving a celebrity and the governor’s wife would take longer than one morning session to choose a jury. Also not believable – An alibi given the governor at the very end of the trial, is not challenged by the prosecutor. Most of the court proceedings were not believable.

Part of the plot involves Carlton being part of a secret spy organization. Okay, but that’s not followed up on later in the book. What happens? Is the organization shut down? Does he leave it or continue to be a member? This a cool plot point, but the author never goes into the intricacies of it.

This shadow of death assassin isn’t dealt with either.

The ending is weak.

This entire book was a mess with weak writing, bad and unnatural dialogue, confusing and convoluted plot points, and characters who aren’t believable.

My Rank:

White Belt


Death’s Door


By David Reichart



Fresh out of the military and after a short stint as a truck driver, Jesse Yates joins Palm Court Detectives. His first assignment: figure out who’s hijacking trucks for the cargo. Yates goes undercover but soon things turn serious and he finds himself delivering a cargo of death.

I think this is a good intro to a new series. The plot holds it own for the most part, is well thought out with only a few glitches here and there.


Jesse Yates: former Navy SEAL, former Marine, former truck driver, private detective, knows martial arts, former smoker, has a sister, dad was a paratrooper

Ernie Donovan: runs Palm Court Detectives, priest, 50s, black hair

Sheila: former actress, P.I. who works for Donovan

Jimmie Flynn: owns Flynn Transportation, almost 50, tad portly, brown hair, married, 2 sons, has a brother

Donna Grey: dark hair, ponytail, former Army, dad was a Marine, works at a bowling alley

There are a bunch of baddies and a couple are pretty involved. There are also some bit federal players I would have liked to have seen in more than one chapter. This book dealt mostly with Yates but I would like to have seen the other members of the PCD involved more. Maybe in future stories.


Pretty good voices. Yates tends to be hesitant a lot, asking questions, and almost overboard with his doubts and fears. The grit and character to have become a SEAL doesn’t hold over here in the detective world except in the action scenes.


Some profanity, but not a lot.

Speaking of actions scenes, they’re tight and well coordinated.

The author shows his knowledge of trucking and fighting. There were some slow parts building up to the climax and this is a short (er) story than a lot of mysteries. For instance, I thought there was too much back and forth between Yates and the bad guys in the final part of the book. Too much arguing.

I mentioned the feds. I wold have liked to have seen them again at the end, just to wrap it up with their part of the whole story.

Shorter meant a faster read.

Again, the rank I give does not mean I didn’t like it. I think this series has a lot of potential and this fills a good niche in the mystery genre.

My Rank:

Green Belt