Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"In our quest for knowledge...we place trust in an...impartial intellect which brings us nearer to destruction."

As the story begins, during WWI, nurse Bess Crawford is helping escort a group of injured soldiers back to England, from France.

One of the members of the group is a badly burned pilot who keeps a photo of his wife on his chest as if she is his inspiration for keeping him alive.

After delivering the patients to the clinic, Bess notices a woman at a train station. This woman is tearfully bidding another soldier goodbye. Bess recognizes the woman from the burn victim's photo and sees the woman's affection for the departing soldier as inappropriate.

When Bess returns from her brief leave, she learns that the woman, Marjorie Evanson, has been murdered. Not only that, but that the burn victim's wife was three month's pregnant. Bess knows that the pilot had been at the front for over four months. Bess's sadness mounts when she found that when Lt. Evanson learned that his wife was murdered, he committed suicide.

Bess feels her old curiosity begin to kick in and she desires to learn more. On her next leave back to England, she visits Marjorie's family and learns of the antagonism that Marjorie's sister Victoria had for her. Bess also meets Lt. Everson's sister, Serena Melton, and finds that Serena is claiming that Marjorie's death was just from a robbery that went too far.

Bess is in contact with the police investigator and examines a photo of the man who Marjorie was seeing off at the station but the photo is not the man Bess saw. However, Bess does feel that the answer to the murder does involve the soldier that Marjorie was with at the train station.

There are more twists and deaths in the story as Bess attempts to find the answers. This is described around the events of the war. Bess returns to the front, caring for newly wounded solders and the reader sees the insanity of the war with the trench warfare and the high cost of life that the soldiers pay for a few hundred yards gained or lost in the battle.

This historical novel was so well described that it was as if the reader could feel the ground shake from the ammunition exploding, smell the gunpowder and hear the moans of the wounded.

Bess is a brave and steadfast character who shows her bravery and determination to find the answers that she feels will ease someones pain.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

"Sometimes I"m frightened but I'm ready to learn, of the power of love." Song lyrics

Michael Lister is a chaplain with the Florida Dept. of Corrections. He spins a disquieting story of the corruption, sexual activity, drug dealing and violence inside a Florida correctional facility.

In the opening scene, Jordan witnesses a prisoner who is killed. It appears that the prisoner was attempting to escape.

Superintendent Edward Stone considers Jordan's law background and position of trust in the facility and orders him to assist in the investigation of the killing. He is to work with Tom Daniels, the I.G. Daniels is an arrogant and condescending official who displays dislike for Jordan's meddling.

Chaplain Jordan treats the inmates fairly and does get information about one prison official who works on the evening shift. This person sees the prison as his own domain and treats prisoners and their spouses in contempt.

While the investigation is under way, we learn of the personal side of the minister as he discusses his alcoholic past and failed marriage. He seems to have put this behind him as he begins to date a young woman from the town.

When complications arise and Jordan is falsely accused of certain crimes, the story becomes a testament to his faith. As in the Biblical story of Job, the pain and suffering that this good man endures, almost makes him despair, but his inner strength and faith, saves him.

This is a story of a man overcoming his past and attempting to improve life for others. It deserves a wide audience. The author uses his personal experiences in the correctional facility to create a realistic and enjoyable story.

Article about my novel "Splattered Blood"

I was thrilled to see this story about my novel "Splattered Blood," which is due to be released in the fall.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

In peace sons bury thier fathers. In war, fathers bury thier sons."

Chris Massi never wanted to enter his father's business with the Mob. Instead, he followed the law and became an attorney, not deviating from his standards when he married the daughter of a Mafia kingpin.

Joe Black Massi had a career as a Mafia assassin.

When Joe is killed and Chris' mother dies of a heart attack, Chris becomes concerned about his thirteen-year-old son, Matt. Matt is developing a swagger and indicating that he is interested in becoming a member of the Mafia, eventually. Chris realizes that this means that Matt would be forced to kill someone to earn the privilege of entering the Mafia.

Chris has a conference with the Don, Junior Boy DiGiglio, who was Chris' former father-in-law. Chris asks what he must do so that Matt is not groomed for that life.

DiGiglio tells Chris the name of the man who killed Chris' father, Barsonetti, the Boat. This man had offered Joe Black a position as capo in his family and a share of some money Joe Black had been holding for someone else. When Joe Black refused, Barsonetti took it as a personal insult and ordered him killed.

We also learn of Chris' childhood friend, Ed Dolan, who has developed a hatred for Chris since Chris' father killed Ed's, even though it was in self defense. Dolan's hatred develops into an obsession and now he is a prosecutor with the Mayor's organized crime task force. He wants to destroy Chris, legally or illegally.

The plot flows very smoothly in the realistic setting of New York and New Jersey. Details of the Mafia family are carefully woven into the story and Chris integrity and goal in his life is challenged as he sees Dolan attempting to destroy him and his family. Excitement built with a well described climax in the New Jersey marshes and then in the offices of the Mafia hierarchy.
Link is for Amazon book review, if you would like to comment there that the review was helpful.

Monday, May 16, 2011

"If you love someone, put their name in a circle...hearts can break but circles go on forever." Unknown

Brad Meltzer has the knack to write a capitvating story. His novels have centered on Washington, D.C. where there is some risk to the United States.

In this story, Beech (Breecher) White is employed at the National Archives and is visited by an old high school girlfriend, Clementine Kaye, who wants help in finding her father.

After Clemmi's mother's death, Clemmi found a document about her father. By bringing the document to the National Archives, researchers are able to determine that the father Clemmi never knew was Nico Hadriam, who was in a psychiatric hopsital after an attempt on the president's life, ten years ago.

At the Archives building, Clemmi, Beech and a security guard are in the president's reading room and discover a document taped to the bottom of a chair. The document apparently was from George Washington.

Shortly thereafter, something happens to the security guard and Beech is questioned about what went on in the reading room.

Clemmi decides to visit her father and the two meet for the first time. Beech follows her and learns that Nico knows about the book they found. He tells them that this is how Washington communicated with his Culper Ring, his own private informational spies.

This story is convoluted and I was confused. Not only is there one Culper Ring, but there are two. In this group of people who give the president honest information, the president's physician and barber are inculded. The story would appeal to puzzle fans who appreciated "The Da Vinci Code."

The characters were well developed as we learn about Beech and Clemmi from their high school days but I didn't find either of them particularly interesting. Neither did I feel the antagonists were villanous.

I was only mildly entertained by this novel and would rate it a 2 1/2 stars, moving up to 3 stars for the attempt at a good puzzle. I've enjoyed Meltzer's novels in the past and am willing to give him another chance in a subsequent novel.


See my Amazon review and comment at the end if that review was helpful.

Friday, May 13, 2011

"Live every day as if it were your last and some day you'll be right." Morant

How does a parent react when their child exhibits violent tendencies? What remedies are there when the mental situation becomes life threatening?

Questions such as these are at the heart of a number of families in the Boston area.

As the novel opens we learn that in a Boston neighborhood that has had its share of violence, four members of a family have been savagely murdered. It looks like a murder-suicide and the father clings to life at the ICU.

The following day, in another part of the city, a new family is murdered. There doesn't seem to be anything connecting the two murdered families.

Lisa Gardner's excellent crime detective, D.D. Warren of the Boston homicide division is brought in and after viewing the crime scenes concludes that there is too much here to be coincidental.

Danielle Burton is a psychiatric nurse whose family was killed by her intoxicated father, twenty-five years before. She was the only survivor and now works in a Boston psych ward, trying to help other traumatized children.

D.D. continues to try to find anything connecting the families and discovers that one child from each family was treated at the Boston psych ward.

When D.D. and her partner visit the ward where Danielle works, they discover that there are a number of connections. Could one of these lead to the killer?

This is an extremely suspenseful story that covers an emotional area that is difficult to read about. However, the story has so much going for it that is is difficult not to continue to learn how things transpire.

There is excellent plotting and character development. We observe D.D.'s outside life and Danielle's life outside of her job and her attempt to go on with her life after her childhood tragedy.

Lisa Gardner writes a story where the reader comes to think that the plot is going in one direction only to be surprised and entertained when the novel changes course.


Monday, May 9, 2011

"There were many times that my pants were so thin that I could sit on a dime and tell if it was heads or tails." Spencer Tracy

Lisa Lutz is the successful author of the humorous Spellman crime stories. In this novel, she has co-authored with David Howard, a poet and Lisa's former boyfriend. Lisa and David write alternate chapters in this zany novel and between chapters, they debate the merits of the prior chapter and the possibilities of plot in the next chapter. It is a wonderful device that gives the reader insight into the writer's thoughts and considerations.

How would someone react if they found a dead body on their front lawn but couldn't report it to the police because they had a field of pot growing behind the house and it was sure to be discovered?

Paul and Lacy Hansen are in their mid twenties. They live in their parents home after their parents died during a vacation. With college debts and a bleak job market they began growing pot and selling it to discriminating markets, i.e. a woman with chronic pain, and patients and staff at an assisted living home.

Lacy is the more curious of the two. As this part of the action is taking place, I pictured the movie "A Weekend at Bernie's." Paul and Lacy bundle the body up and dump it on a hiking path at a nearby rest stop.

After this is done, they expect someone to notice the body but not long after dumping the body, Lacy is startled when she finds it on her front yard again. This time Lacy recognizes a tattoo as that of her old boyfriend, Hart Drexel.

The story takes many turns and twists as Lacy and Paul try to solve the crime themselves. Lacy is a character who is reminiscent of the wonderful character of Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Plum. She bumbles her way through the story attempting to find everyone's alibi. Suspects continue to wind up dead and even the authors argue about what should come next.

This novel describes such a hilarious escapade and was so much fun that I wanted to find who was the killer but I didn't want the story to end.



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Thursday, May 5, 2011

"I'm for a good estate with any man and for any man with a good estate." Wm Congreve

When we imagine the area of Provence, France, we think of a panorama of vineyards and peaceful surroundings.

The narrator of this coming of age novel, Christian Aragan, is seventeen and about to finish high school. His geography teacher, Vivienne Pleyden is age twenty-four. The time of the novel is mostly just after WWI.

Vivienne's husband is Stephane Pleyben, an abusive man who beat her so often, it was normal to see her at school, with make-up attempting to cover her bruises. There was an occasion when Christian was a young boy when he noticed Stephane about to strike Vivienne while in the Village Square. When he saw that he was observed by Christian, he pretended to be doing something else.

Perhaps becoming a man means being able to express yourself and your own thoughts concerning your future.

Christian's older brother, Eugene, was killed during the war. Christian seems to view the war as a time when heroes were made and cowards discovered. While Eugene was killed during a battle, Stephane saw that conscription was eminent and disappeared.

There are conflicts underneath the skin of this village, such as between the local priest, a Jesuit, who preaches hell and damnation and is seen by Christian as a fraud. There is also the conflict between Christian and his father, who assumes that Christian will take over the family vineyards in the future. We also observe the difficulties between Vivienne and her husband. All of these problem relationships are magnified when seen in the apparent serenity of Provence and the fields of grapes and warm sunshine.

Christian and Vivienne become lovers and an incident occurs that was perhaps ordained when Christian was a young boy and received a cut with a knife by another child at his school.

This is a warm story of enduring love and devotion beautifully told full of images and characters who will remain in the reader's memory.


Please see my amazon review. I love comments and if you enjoy the review, please indicate on amazon that the review was helpful.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"The nice part of living in a small town is...when I don't know what I'm doing, someone else does." Unknown source

Martin Clark has created a cast of characters who come alive and are oddly believable in their actions during the course of this novel. The inhabitants of this story generally don't confirm to standard ideas of behavior and tend to do what is necessary to enjoy the moment and disregard the future.

Judge Evers Wheeling, a pot smoker from Norton, North Carolina, is on his way to work when he's approached by a well dressed woman who asks for a moment of his time.

What transpires is almost a scene from the Andy Griffith TV show. The woman, Ruth Esther, insists on privacy and she and the judge end up in a vacant restroom in a local business. Evers thinks he's being set-up and Ruth asks him to be easy on her brother when he comes before the court. She adds that she helped steal $100,000. Her father was the mastermind and has died, her brother was caught and she needs him for his part of the puzzle to find the money. She tells Wheeling that she'll split her share with him if he helps.

Wheeling has a brother, Pascal who lives in a mobile home and seems high on pot most of the time. While Evers did well with his family inheritance, Pascal traveled and enjoyed life and doesn't have a care.

The story relates the attempt to recover the valuables and the surprises that await them as they go along.

We also follow the divorce attempt of Wheeling after he and the sheriff discover Ever's wife at a motel with a local farmer.

Filled with amusing moments this novel certainly entertained. The book is more for those who enjoy unusual characters doing improbably things than the logical path through life.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

"He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune." F Bacon

Armed men enter The Resurrection House and kidnap two teenage boys. The Resurrection House is a residence for children of parents who are in jail.

One of the boys is discovered in a field by a homeless former Marine medic. The kidnappers return for this boy and are about to kill the homeless man when hostage rescue expert Jonathan Grave, who runs the security firm, Security Solutions, saves the boy and dispatches the kidnappers. We learn that the boy had been drugged and left to die before being found.

Brandy Giddings is a special assistant to secretary of defense Jacque Leger. We learn early on that Leger set in motion a plot to make an old problem disappear. He hired Jerry Sjogren, a fixer and the man behind the group that doesn't mind killing and kidnapping, if the price is right.

When Jonathan learns that there is a government connection involved, he figures that the only reasons to kidnap the boys was either to ensure silence about something or to leverage cooperation. Jonathan intends to find out which and bring the other teenager back to safety.

In a complicated plot that is most visual as the action takes place, we follow Jonathan as he learns where the second boy was taken and attempts to rescue him. Members of Johathan's team interview the two fathers and try to learn what the connection might be.

The scene shifts to the jungles of Columbia and a drug factory with employees who have been kidnapped from the local villages. The author, John Gilstrap, has leaped to the front of action writers. This story would easily fit on the movie screen where the audience or readers experience the rescue team face tremendous odds to stop the criminals and rescue a young boy.

I enjoyed the story but did have to suspend my view of reality as some of the action took place. Jonathan Grave is one of the new breed of action heroes that are so easy to like and wish for their success.


See my Amazon review. I love it when readers find my reviews have been helpful.

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