Monthly Archives: August 2017

The Case Of The Invisible Souls


R. Weir



The homeless in Denver are disappearing. Well, they’re accepting offers from strangers and never seen again. Didn’t they understand the rule about not accepting rides from strangers when they were children (okay, that’s not part of the plot. I’m having fun here). When private investigator Jarvis Mann accepts the case to look into the disappearances, he runs into trouble almost from the beginning. But that’s the nature of Mann’s cases.

For a short story, it’s a good plot. Very well laid out and presented. It might have made for a longer story, but for what it is, it’s pretty good.


Jarvis Mann: private investigator, drives a Mustang

Parker Turner: homeless, former military

Louise: silver hair

Brandon Sparks: construction company owner, 50s

Samantha: pastor, black, muscular, former military, tattooed, lavender/blonde hair

Some good characters. Jarvis might have been given a bit more background, but if you’ve read the previous books in the series, you would know.


Characters don’t speak in contractions. Not so much as other books, but enough to notice, but this is common with Weir’s novels. A couple ‘ly’ adverbs on the ‘he said’ tags, but not enough to get upset about.


Clean, no errors that I could see. No profanity. Pretty straightforward with some insight on the homeless issue. I have enjoyed several Mann plots and this one is no exception.

Yeah, pretty short review this time, but when there aren’t any major issues to point out, it’s just a matter of saying this is a good book and I wish more of my review books were as good.

My Rank:

Blue Belt



Deadly Decision


By Gerald Darnell



1962. Tennessee. When Nathan Battle comes up on an accident, he meets a man with a briefcase full of money. There’s a fight and Nathan shoots the man and ends up with the money. Thus begins the tale of one decision that results in multiple murders, betrayal, and greed. The local police call in Carson Reno, private investigator, from Memphis to help track down the answers. Things start heating up when Nathan enters the picture and starts gathering clues.

I think this is an interesting plot with lots of angles. In some ways it’s simple, yet, in other ways, there’s complexity.


Carson Reno: Private investigator

Joe Richardson: associate in Reno’s agency

Lydia Longstreet: associate in Reno’s agency, has a sister who is dead, is a P.I. of her own, tanned, black hair

Leroy Epsee: county sheriff

Nathan Battle: married, has a brother

Titus Dunwoody: smokes, tattooed, drives a ‘55 Mercury, black hair

Joey Moretti: works for the mob, smokes.

I think the characters are fine except Carson didn’t show up until page 48 (in my epub version), and there are only 156 pages. Plenty of background information which isn’t bad, just a lot of it.


Here’s where some of the problems arise. There are a lot of tag lines that aren’t tag lines. Smiling, laughing, and such are actions, not pieces of dialogue. And there were others that were complete non-dialogue tags. There were punctuation and capitalization errors in the dialogue.

Maybe this goes toward character, but some of Reno’s dialogue showed a lot of over confidence.

Another problem with dialogue was there was a lot of repetitious talk within conversations. At times I wanted to jump in with, “Get on with it.”

Back to the tag lines, there was too much he shouted and he yelled.


Titled chapters. Profanity. Carson’s scenes are 1st person from his POV. Third person POV when other characters have their scenes w/o Carson.

This is one of the very few books I’ve read with pictures. Pictures of items (guns, beer, cars), and pictures of buildings read about in the book (motel, grocery store). They were okay, although no need to repeat them.

Ah yes. There was a LOT of repetition in phrases. Way too much. Once you have a character established, there is no need to use the first and last name of that character again except maybe at the beginning of a chapter where that person hasn’t been seen for awhile. Joey Moretti was introduced with the nickname Joey ‘get out of town’ Moretti. Great. Interesting nickname. But the author used that nickname almost every time Moretti was in a scene and some scenes had multiple uses. Once or twice is fine, but over and over gets tiring.

Ditto with the phrase everybody used, including the narrator when speaking of the mob. Every time ‘the boys on Beale Street’ was used after the first two times, I cringed. Enough already. This repetition became old and turned me off.

There was a bit of tense problems here and there.

Some other problems include:

– no explanation for how Joey survived at the beginning

– capital letters to stress words instead of italics (this was over the top when a couple characters had to yell at a deaf proprietor.)

– there’s a fight at Nathan’s brother’s house that involves Titus and Joey. After Titus shoots Joey, he yells to his girlfriend and the brother’s wife to get into the car, and yells where they’re going. Huh? You just shot a bad guy, don’t know if he lived, but you’re going to yell out your destination before you escape?

– there were a couple of surprise characters that were mentioned, but not enough, for me, to make the ending scene work. Hello? Where did you come from and how did you know all the particulars?

– Carson has a dog…named Carson. In a couple places, I had to read the sentence twice to be clear which Carson was being described.

– I don’t know, but I’m not sure if another name for Carson’s agency might have been better. It’s a bit schmoozy (can I make up a word to describe something that is a bit wrong, kinda, but doesn’t really work?) that he’d name it the Drake Detective Agency because, as he explains, the Reno Detective Agency would be confusing and not sound right, but everybody, at that time, was familiar with Perry Mason. Okay, but then to have a slight change in the woman from Della Street to Lydia Longstreet?

So, the rank. Now, this book is part of a series, and one that is farther into the series. Although I haven’t read the others, I would expect with each one, that earlier errors and problems would have been solved or severely minimized by this stage.

I thought for awhile to give this a Camouflage, but I think I have to be fair to those other Camo books.

My Rank:

Yellow Belt


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