Monthly Archives: March 2018

The Impersonator


By Mary Miley

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1924. Leah is a longtime Vaudeville actress whose life is about to change. She looks just like Jesse Carr, a missing heiress from Oregon, and the uncle of the girl has come to offer Leah a deal: come back to Oregon and impersonate the missing girl and share a fortune. When circumstances in the Vaudeville circuit turn against her, Leah accepts the deal. She has a lot of people to convince, some of them very unhappy about the return of a family member and the potential loss of a lot of money. The plans to inherit are fraught with problems, dangers, and death. What really happened to Jess seven years earlier? Who knows the truth and what lengths will some people go to secure wealth?

This plot has been seen many times, but I haven’t read a book quite like this one. First off, I’m always a little wary of stories that occur in the past. I just don’t care for them. I enjoy present day mysteries, or at the most, those that are set within the last couple decades. Now, I will admit that I’ve read a lot of period stories and so far I’ve enjoyed them. This one set in the era of Prohibition is a good one because the author has to remember all the intricacies of the year, the technology, the culture, etc. The extra feature of murders adds the needed attraction.


Oliver Beckett: fifties, thinning hair, fat, Vandyke beard, niece disappeared when she was 14, mother still living, sister and brother both dead

Leah: twenties, vaudeville actress, mother died when Leah was child, father left before her birth, auburn hair, freckles, blue-green eyes, has used various first names and surnames

Henry Carr: three siblings, tall, strong, handsome, athletic as a youth, body turning stocky, liked politics and sailing as a youth, attended Stanford, wants to be in the state legislature, smug

Ross Carr: Henry’s younger brother, 21, wears glasses, dark curly hair, green eyes, thin face, short, attends Stanford, wants to be an academician, suffers from asthma

Buster: stable hand, simple-minded, tall, muscular, missing some teeth, voice low and slow

Benny Kubelsky: plays vaudeville, plays violin, comedian, later changed his name to Jack Benny

Truthfully, these are expected characters, but that doesn’t make them any less worthy. I enjoyed the fact that each had a distinct personality that I could recognize with each scene. Each character, even the minor ones, stood out. And of course, bringing in real people or name dropping real people adds to the fun.


Voices are distinct enough because the characters stand out pretty well. No conversation veered off track. The important material was conveyed.


First person from Leah’s POV. Varying lengths of chapters. The set up to the impersonation went pretty fast. From then on, it was Leah’s challenges and adapting to the new world with a homesickness for the vaudeville scene. ‘Bastard’ and ‘damn’ are the most profanity used. Action was mildly tense but enough to keep interest. The mixing of fact (using real locales, events, and people) and fiction was the key to this book’s success. This won a First Crime Novel award and though I didn’t know the others in the running, this one probably deserved to win.

My ranking:

Brown Belt





by Carl Hiaasen



Noah Underwood’s dad is in trouble with the law…again. This time for sinking a gambling boat in the Florida Keys that may be dumping waste into the Gulf. But Noah decides to take up the charge and prove his father was right. He enlists the aid of his sister and the girlfriend of a former employee of the gambling boat. But Noah is up against more than just gathering evidence. The son of the boat owner has a dislike for Noah. Noah’s mother is considering a divorce. And who is the stranger lurking around…saving Noah and his sister from trouble?

I didn’t realize this was a Young Adult novel until I did some investigating. I saw the author’s name and thought this would be another fun adventure. And actually it turned out to be pretty good. A simple plot, but lots to work with.


Noah Underwood: teen, was born on the highway, has a sister, dad drives a taxi but was a fishing guide and has been in trouble with the law many times, rides a bike, mother works at law firm

Dusty Muleman: owns a gambling boat, smokes Cuban cigars, has a son

Lice Peeking: 29, smokes, drinks, worked on Muleman’s casino boat, lost his driver’s license, has a girlfriend, lives in a trailer park

I guess I should also include Abbie, Noah’s sister, and Shelly, the girlfriend of Peeking’s since they feature prominently throughout. I liked Shelly the best. Dusty’s son is a bully and I would have liked to have seen more scenes with Dusty since he was the bad guy.


Not too bad for voices. Again, I noticed Shelly’s the best I think the conversations stayed on point and didn’t stray too far from the plot. YA dialogue stays pretty basic.


First person from Noah’s POV. ‘Bastard’ is the only use of profanity. Hiaasen handles the matters of alcoholism and divorce pretty well. The action is mildy intense but with YA there isn’t much shoot ’em up and body count. I thought the solution to the problem was good but the climax came way too early. Then it was a lot of explanation of the stranger and the wrapping up of the story. Still an enjoyable read. Or listen as I have the audio version.

My Rank:

Blue Belt


The Bridge

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By Toletha J. Dixon


Riya Jordan and her friends are off to the Brazilian jungle after graduation to join a Save the World group. Soon after arriving, some members of the group are killed and the survivors are forced to flee for their lives. To escape, they have to cross a bridge…but instead are trapped between two hopeless situations.

The short story is a lot of back story mixed with the current situation. Maybe in a longer story this would work, but for me, in this story, it didn’t. Not enough tension for the present situation was shown and the back story only added a lot-not always, but a lot-of irrelevant information.


Carlito: 44, former farmer and former drug producer

Riya Jordan: 18, dad dead

Karen Meyers: 18, drives a blue Malibu

Chase Prince: 16

Luis De Sousa: muscular, married

Larry Maverick: 56, president of Salvor O Mundo, tall, slim

And more characters. Too many for this short story. Too many to adequately have development. Stick with one or two. Heck, there were even two jaguars who had names and scenes and internal thoughts. Again, this didn’t work for me.


Typical older teen stuff. Not much dialogue, but okay nonetheless. Tags on dialogue where it’s: said Riya, asked the man, the said and asked should not be capitalized.


Profanity. Tense problems, a couple punctuation and capitalization errors.

The narration was 3rd person distant but every so often the narrator would say ‘you’. As in: If not careful, you could fall in the river. (Not an actual sentence in the book, just an example of the type that showed up).

Otherwise, what didn’t work for me was that the people are trapped on this bridge and there are different scenes of back story. Not much tension with the danger on the bridge.

Here’s something that just didn’t seem believable. This bridge was too dangerous to cross to the far end to get away from the danger because the ropes were unraveling and some of the boards had fallen away. Apparently, though, it was safe enough to hold the weight of several people for what seemed like hours and then also a large feline. A bit of a stretch of the imagination.

36 pages in my epub version, so a quick read.

My Rank:

Camouflage Belt


Cannibal In The City

cBy Antwan Floyd Sr.

me in hoody


Black Love is thinking about becoming a private investigator. He accepts a case to find a police detective’s missing daughter. Then he discovers a pattern of missing girls. Then an old friend, fresh out of prison, shows up with more trouble. Can Love keep everything straight…and keep his romantic entanglements from knotting up his life?

I enjoyed the relationship angles of this book. However, the title of the book didn’t play into the majority of the plot. A bit at the beginning, but the track down of the missing girls and the cannibals didn’t really start until near the end. This spent too much time on an improbable investigation and a subplot that also didn’t seem quite…believable.


Black Love: former Illinois District Attorney, 5’3”

Charles Tyner: 21, black, curly hair, dad is a senator

Avery: Tyner’s common law wife, drives a grey Acura Nsx, tan, brunette, freckles

Trigger Brown: Black, Love’s girlfriend, amateur MMA fighter, building contractor, 5’5”, curly hair, 145 lbs.

Jon Edwards: police investigator, married with daughter

Parker Harris: 6’5”, 200 lbs, black, receding hair line, ex con, suffered a mild stroke

Varied characters which makes for distinctive personalities. My main question throughout the book was: What is Love’s profession? He wants to be a PI, but somehow has enough money to get through this story without being paid by anybody. This question isn’t answered. Edwards became a bit upset by the questions he was asked…which he himself might have asked other parents. Plus, I think it was out of character for a cop to hire a citizen not yet licensed as a PI to find his daughter.


Nice cultural speaking from the characters. Good inner city, ‘black’ give and take. However, tags were written incorrectly. The punctuation was incorrect a lot and …” He said. is incorrect. Don’t capitalize ‘he’.


Profanity, but not too much. Relatively short chapters.

The problem with this book was a plethora of mistakes. Weak writing, misspelled words, incorrect words, punctuation problems. The last problem resulted in incomplete or run on sentences, some of which lost their way and sense. I had difficulty ferreting out the meaning. Many sentences start with one character, then runs on and then mentions ‘he’ but the ‘he’ is another character. This made for a difficult read, especially in the fight scenes.

Wrong words: weary when I think the word meant was wary.

Wrong words: I was amused by constant use of prescient for precinct. “I left my car at the prescient.”

Continuity problem: Trigger tells Love that Edwards’ daughter is thirteen. Then, when talking to Edwards, the investigator says the daughter is preteen. Then, when found, the daughter is fifteen. I don’t recall any reference to the daughter being gone two or more years.

Tense problems. POV problems.

Once Edwards is named as a Detective, there is no need to keep calling him Detective Edwards every time he’s named.

The opening scene is in the present. Then the story goes back a couple days to lead the reader up to why Love is in the situation. Near the end, the opening scene is repeated almost word for word.

This story could have been longer to include more scenes with the bad guys. As mentioned above, the main mystery, supposedly the cannibals, didn’t really come into play until the end. I thought the resolution of Parker’s problem was a bit non-believable. The missing daughter thing ended with no explanation of why she disappeared in the first place and no mention of aftermath.

My Rank:

Orange Belt