Monthly Archives: August 2017

Pretty Corpse


By Linda Berry



A serial rapist is terrorizing teens in San Francisco. Patrol officer Lauren Starkley finds herself involved with the third attack. Having a teen daughter of her own, she is now determined, against the advice and orders or those in charge of the investigation, to track down the culprit. Spending off hours talking to people and exploring the crime scene, she becomes the focus of the rapist.

I like the plot. It’s one with a dedicated and loyal cop after the bad guy. There’s a bit of romance and intrigue. My problem in this section (I guess it belongs here) is that the title doesn’t represent the plot. The only corpse is a cop who is shot.


Lauren Starkley: patrol officer, green eyes, 5’, drives a white Jeep Cherokee, widow, owns a cat, has a sister

Steve Santos: 40, partner of Lauren’s, solid frame, married with 2 children, thick dark hair

Lily Camino: police inspector, greying hair, brown eyes, wears glasses.

Jack Monetti: 40, police captain, dark hair, divorced with child, blue eyes, drives a Toyota Sequoia

Courtney Starkley: 14, Lauren’s daughter, red hair

Peter Duff: reporter, married with children

Some good characters. I wished Lily would have had more than one scene because she was the perfect authoritarian foil for Lauren’s bucking the system. She had one scene then left the story which made her background information moot. I thought she would play a more important role.

The other characters had good roles. Santos and another cop named Wong. There were others to make the sideline issues complete (Lauren’s parents, a teenage boy).


Pretty good voices. Santos and Wong sounded a bit similar. Lauren’s parents were good. Conversations didn’t wander and were kept fairly tight. The investigative side of police work sometimes gets technical, but there wasn’t any medicalese or scientific terms to worry about.


A small bit of profanity that probably could have been eliminated.

Other than that…well, I’m not sure what to write here. No grammar/punctuation/spelling errors that I could find. No improbable scenes or issues with time or action.

The amount of action was just about right and the tension might have been amped up a bit, but otherwise, it seemed to flow well.

I really don’t have any problems with this book. It’s a good, complete story. Okay, it doesn’t wow me to utter exhilaration, but I would read more of this author’s work. I think she has a grasp on solid writing and a decent story, and hope that she publishes more.

So, as to rank, I thought about Green, but based on the ‘clean’ writing and the fact I could sit back and enjoy the story without having to slog through errors and problems, I decided to bump it up.

My Rank:

Purple Belt


Fair Is Foul And Foul Is Fair


By Larry Darter



Ben Malone, P.I., is on the case of an escort who needs protection from a crime lord because she witnessed the murder of one of her clients. At least…that’s what she claims. When Malone accepts the case, he finds more than murder, he finds more murder, and narcotics, and human trafficking. And lies. Soon, he and his girlfriend are in danger. He’ll have to think fast to come out of this one alive.

I think it’s a good plot. There is a lot going on here with just enough complexities and twists to keep it interesting. Plot-wise.


Ben Malone: Private investigator, former homicide investigator, former Army, drives a Toyota Camry

Evania Sterling: escort, married, blonde, blue eyes, tall, drives a BMW Z4

Jaime Reyes: homicide investigator, has a sister

Nick Makara: white hair, portly, sixties, golfer, owns a shipping company

These are the main characters along with Sara, Ben’s girlfriend who is a psychiatrist. Coincidentally, at the same time I was reading this, I was listening to a Spenser novel and there are similarities between the characters. All Darter had to do was put in a large black man to accompany Malone…well, anyway…

The characters are fine. I think they’re well rounded with enough background information and descriptions. I thought Malone wasn’t as serious at the beginning as he might have been, but that could be his nature.


A lot of people don’t use contractions and it was enough to be noticeable and seem unnatural. Otherwise, the conversations went well. A bit long in the scenes with the FBI.


First person from Malone’s POV. Profanity. Small to medium-sized words are incorrect in many sentences.

The biggest problem I had with this is that although the book is a longer one than usual, it’s a fast read. The reason it’s lengthy is there’s a lot of unnecessary repetition and unnecessary information.

Example: Malone goes through a lot of adventure with Evania and Makara and when he finally gets around to spilling the story to Reyes, he spills it all. What I mean is, the author had more than a summary of every single scene when Malone relates the story to Reyes. I’m thinking, “Get on with it!” This lengthy diatribe could have been neatly summarized in about three paragraphs.

Example: There’s a lot of repetition of previous events when discussing things with the FBI.

Example: Evania’s story near the end was too long. After a bunch of slow time, this is an obvious filler before the climax.

Example: There is a scene detailing a meal. Do something with a chicken, cut up veggies, do something else with the chicken, grab a bowl for salad, do something else with the chicken…and so on. This and many other scenes tended to drag down the story. There is a lot of filler between the action parts and meeting with the FBI and before the showdown.

Speaking of the climax – it was anti-climactic. Little action and it ends quickly. Too quickly for the long set up.

Another problem is when Malone rescues Sara and they and Reyes are deciding their next plan of action, Malone cautions Sara not to be going out because he doesn’t want the bad guys to know she’s been rescued. A few minutes later, they all decide to go out to lunch…on a restaurant patio. What happened to being worried about being out in public?

A good plot, but some of the writing needed to be a lot tighter…and shorter.

My Rank:

Green Belt