Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Judge not less you be judged. Bible proverb.


Did you ever wonder about the background of some of the judges who pass judgment on others?

In "Grant of Immunity" Danny Hart was a teenager who was talked into joining his friend Snake for a night of fun. Danny was age fifteen. He used to babysit for the two little children of Snake's girlfriend, Sarah. On this night, Snake was showing off and after smoking a bit of weed, things got rough. Snake made sexual demands of Sarah and Danny wanted no part of it but Snake threatened to cut her if Danny didn't agree. By the end of the night, Sarah had been murdered by Snake and he had a knife with Danny's prints on it.

Years later, Jake is a Marine vet and had worked for the Chilean secret police. He has joined the police department and is a sergeant in the patrol department using his position to demonstrate power and make women submit to his cruel desires. He pulls women over for minor or made up traffic violations and then forces them to do what he wants.

The reader hopes someone will stand up to him but his victims are chosen for their submissiveness and are intimidated. We have seen crooked police on the TV show, The Shield and are familiar with some characters in Joseph Wambaugh novels so the reader doesn't know what to expect.

Not to reveal plot, Snake (John Babbage) finally picks a woman to exercise his power over but after beginning to have his way with her, he gets a radio call from the department and has to leave.
Later, this person reports him and the drama boosts up.

A case goes to court and Danny Hart is now a judge and he and Babbage have a confrontation.

The plot is very realistic and the author who has over fifteen years of judicial experience, weaves an exciting, fast moving and realistic plot that is hard to put down.

In a case of good against evil, Hart takes a stand but how will he come out of this?  The courtroom action and the behind the scenes moves by the prosecution and defense make this a story that will be hard to put down.  The ending took a bit to reach the finale but otherwise I felt that this was an excellent read and totally recommend it.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

That Lucky old Son has nothin to do but roll around Heaven all day.

Last year I listened to "The Son" on audiobook and found the story unique and addictive. When my book group decided on that book for their next read, I decided to read it and compare it to the audiobook.

The audiobook is narrated by Gildart Jackson who has a slow and deadly pace as the story is revealed, almost as if Alfred Hitchcock was explaining one of his complicated plots.

Reading the story after listening to it only heightened my enjoyment. I could visualize what was going to happen but dwell in the literary descriptions and pacing of story.

After his father's suicide and the publicity that his father was a corrupt cop, Sonny Loftus spent over twelve years in prison after confessing to a number of murders. His only payoff was that he wanted to be supplied with heroin. When another prisoner informs him that his father wasn't corrupt and he only wrote the suicide note to protect Sonny and his mother, Sonny goes cold turkey, breaks out of prison and goes on a vengeful rampage seeking out the people who really murdered the people Sonny took the blame for.

Simon Kefas is a senior police official in the Oslo Homicide Squad. He is the lead investigator in search for Sonny and was Sonny's father's best friend. Simon is a finely developed character with a great love of his wife, Else, who is in need of an eye operation to save her sight.

There are complications and surprises and the events of the story come to light.  The crime scene in Oslo is also brought to life as we see the criminals and their power but then step by step, Sonny Loftus seeks out the various crime lords and takes his revenge.

Well done, powerfully written and a deep and gratifying read.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I Hear the Train a comin' " Song lyrics

Rachel Watson is a creature of habit, taking the Ashbury-Euston train toward London daily. She doesn't have much of a life of her own so watches other people and imagines what they must be like and what they might be doing.

The story is told in three voices, Rachel, Anna and Megan. It also moves back and forth through time periods.

As Rachel is the central character, we view much of the action through her eyes. She is an alcoholic and obsessive about her former husband, Tom and Tom's wife Anna and their child.  She calls them constantly, even late at night and then hangs up the phone.

Tom had an affair with Anna when still married to Rachel, then divorced Rachel and became the father to Evie.

Even though Rachel has lost her job, she still rides the train daily and while doing so, watches the lives of others and wonders what they might be doing. One couple she watches lives a few doors down the street from Tom and Anna.

When a character goes missing, Rachel becomes involved in the investigation. Jess is one of the characters who Rachel watches and is really Megan.

There have been many comparisons of this book to "Gone Girl." Stephen King has purchased the rights for Dreamworld.

I felt that the book was confusing, being narrated by three people. I also didn't find any of the characters likable or characters that I wanted to learn more about. Rachel, in particular, with her blackouts, her alcoholism and her decision making was very unlikable and hard for me to believe.

Monday, April 20, 2015

I'm Dreaming of You, Only of You" Song lyrics

Deborah Crombie provides her fans a mystery that spans all the way back to WWI.

The intricate story tells of Lydia Brooke, a poet. When she was a student at Cambridge in the 1960s, she emulated her namesake, Edwardian poet, Rupert Brooke.

Lydia died five years prior to the events in this story. Her death was attributed to suicide.

Dr. Vic McClellan, Duncan Kincaid's former wife, calls him out of the blue and asks for his help. Duncan and his lover, Gemma Jones, have a comfortable life together. Duncan is a police superintendent at Scotland Yard and Gemma is a police sergeant there.

Gemma is a bit uncomfortable with Duncan seeing his former wife but doesn't say anything. While Duncan hadn't heard from Vic since she walked out on him twelve years ago, he agrees to help.

When he does, the fun begins. The complexity winds up and the literary characters jump out of the page.

Vic is doing a biography on Lydia and something about her death doesn't seem right. She wants Duncan to look at the case.

Although it's not in Duncan's district and he takes vacation to investigate, the facts begin to unravel
There is a major surprise and a cast of characters who might be guilty of murder. Alfred Hitchcock would be watering at the mouth thinking about directing this novel as a movie.

We visit the historical times back to WWI when Rupert Brooke died in 1915. Crumbie tells us that Brooke never saw action during the war. He died of blood poisoning at Division Field Day and when Churchill and other officials read his sonnets about the war, they thought he'd make a good martyr.

There is good insight into the character of Lydia through the newsy letters she writes to her mother.

Overall, interesting, an excellent police procedural and as Duncan and Emma examine the suspects, it is a story that captivates the reader.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Passion to Overcome Evil

Beautiful young women, believing that they are going to modeling opportunities are kidnapped and sold into slavery.

PRIMAL is an organization that his "...hell-bent on bringing justice to those who have evaded it." They are funded by a benefactor who is the CEO of a billion dollar logistics empire.

PRIMAL has a small group of operatives and uses the latest in technology and weaponry to bring down their opponents. Think of a team with four James Bond's.

The edge of seat action in "PRIMAL Fury" is thrilling as this small group of operatives is pitted against the Mori-Kai. The Mori-Kai is one of Japan's most ruthless and deadly families. They are behind the smuggling ring abducting the girls.

We follow the action of two of the abducted girls who are from Croatia. It seems cruel to see a young person's dreams bashed as these two women, like the others, thought they were going to a life as models with lots of glamour.

Karla, the younger sister is just seventeen. She seems particularly vulnerable. William Kurtz, a PRIMAL operative is stymied numerous times as he attempts to rescue her. When he first met Karla, Kurtz became emotionally connected to her and his over enthusiastic attempts at rescue almost spoil a number of situations.

The PRIMAL mission is to search for the smugglers' headquarters, rescue the young women and destroy the organization.

The action sizzles as it moves along. The odds seem against the forces of PRIMAL but with their bravery and superior technology, they overcome.


(I received a free copy of this book in return for my honest review)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"It's not the flying that's hard, it's the landing." saying

Welcome to the world of brain injured Nicky Frank. Her car sails off the road and crashes into a ravine. Then she clamors out of the car, surrounded by broken glass and the smell of Glenlivet Scotch. Nicky reaches the highway and when help arrives, all she can think of is 'Where's Viro?"

Nicky's story is the center of the book. It's packed with as many surprises as a carton of Crackerjax. The first bombshell comes when police Sergeant Wyatt Foster and Detective Kevin Santos attempt to question Nicky's husband Thomas. When they ask about his child, Vero, Thomas laughs and tells them that they have no children. He adds that Nicky has had a number of brain injuries and as a result, her memory is unsound and she often gets mixed up.

Sgt. Foster has been in a relationship with Tessa Leoni who works with Northridge Investigations.  Foster learns that Nicky has contacted them to help find a woman who was a key to her past. They also begin to doubt the veracity of Thomas's responses to their questions.

The story's pacing is excellent as, with Wyatt and Kevin help her remember things from her past. Tessa also helps and becomes an advocate for Nicky. It is during this time that Thomas disappears.

Nicky is determined to learn about her past while dealing with her traumatic brain injury.

The fast moving psychological thriller will keep the reader going while trying to discover what really happened in Nicky's past and the real story behind Nicky and Thomas's relationship.

With a contemporary theme of dealing with traumatic brain injuries, the reader learns how hard it is to deal with this invisible malady and empathy builds for those attempting to cope with it.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

"Baby it's cold outside" Song lyrics

When a young pregnant woman is hit by a car near Flagstaff, Arizona, she's brought to the hospital and opens up a hidden world where a religious cult was active.

At the hospital is Sister Anselm, a patient advocate who deeply cares for those who don't have a voice in their own behalf. The woman gives birth but both she and her daughter are in critical condition.

Before lapsing into unconsciousness, the defenseless woman pleads with the young man who drove the care that hit her accidentally, please don't let them take me back.

With this plea, Sister Anselm stays at Enid's side and tells her friend, Ali Reynolds, who is police academy trained and works at her husband's computer technology company.

Both Ali and Sister Anselm are there when a confrontation occurs by two authoritative men from The Family who have come to bring Enid and her daughter back. This was an excellent scene that is well described by the author, J.A. Jance.

The story continues and we observe the manner in which the man at the cult treat their wives and how certain young girls disappear in the middle of the night.

As this goes on, a parallel story involves a senior citizen, Betsy Peterson  who is awakened by her dog one night and finds the gas has been turned on in her stove. If the dog hadn't awakened Betsy, she might have been killed. Betsy is the grandmother of Athena who is Ali's daughter-in-law.

With two dramatic story lines, the action moves nicely and the characters are well described and easy to root for. It's easy for the reader to feel empathy for both and both parts of the story treat meaningful situations in today's society, elder abuse and human trafficking along with religious cults who go to the extremes in their treatment of the people under their spell.

J.A. Jance is an excellent author and knows how to tell a compelling story. I didn't want this story to end because it was so good but I did want to see the villains get what was coming to them.

The novel is skillfully plotted and recommended. Don't miss it..

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Roy Benavidez, Medal of Honor winner

"Legend" is a military biography of Special Forces staff sergeant Roy Benavidez.

It tells of Roy's younger days in Texas and how he came to the belief to help others and his heroic dedication to a cause.

Roy goes through the ranks and becomes a staff sergeant. He is motivated by the song and story of "The Battle of the Green Berets" and is stationed in Vietnam.

The secret war was a term for the insertion of U.S. troops into Cambodia. Cambodian leader Prince Norodom Sihanouk didn't admit that the North Vietnamese were traveling down the Ho Chi Min Turnpike and U.S. President Johnson didn't want it known that we were sending troops into Cambodia to stop the North Vietnamese from using Cambodia to send troops and weapons to South Vietnam.

The 240th Assault Helicopter Company sends an assault group to Cambodia but they didn't know that there was a concealed and heavily armed base in that vicinity. The men are pinned down and ask for extraction. Benavidez gets on a chopper, goes to the site and rushes nearly 100 yards through enemy fire to reach and help in the rescue.

He was denied the Medal of Honor because officials didn't want to admit that U.S. soldiers fought there but this story tells how added information was provided and Benavidez was given the Medal by President Reagan.

The battle scenes are well described and painful to read as we witness U.S. and South Vietnamese soldiers being shot and killed. Their bravery comes through time and time again.

I read this biography after reading "American Sniper" the Chris Kyle story. It amazes me how brave some people can be in the midst of tremendous odds and I honor their memory.

Monday, April 6, 2015

You give me fever, in the morning

Frances Irvine's life is shattered when her father dies suddenly and leaves her penniless in London in 1880.

She faces moving to her aunt's home and being treated as a nurse and maid for her condescending aunt's five children or emigrating to South Africa where her cousin has asked her to marry him.

Frances isn't in love with her cousin but can't see living with her aunt in Manchester. On the boat to The Cape, she's seduced by William Westbrook, a Machiavellian who promises to marry once they arrive in South Africa.

Upon arrival, Frances is stood up by Westbrook and learns that he's engaged to another. Saddened and alone, she travels the rest of the way to the farm where her cousin Edwin lives. It's is a desolate area and Edwin is gone much of the time, providing smallpox vaccinations.

Frances grows tired of this existence and on a trip to the city, she meets Westbrook again and he informs her of events in his life and that he still loves her and wants her to travel to Johannesburg with him as soon as he gets enough money from the diamonds he's illegally purchasing.

Frances has to choose between the two men and the remainder of the story tells of her choice and the consequences of it.

There is a very good portrayal of live in the Cape, with wealthy diamond miners refusing to believe that the smallpox is spreading for fear that the natives working in the mines will desert them. It is visually described and I feel that it would make an excellent movie.

The supporting cast is well described and that makes much of the book more interesting as Frances visits hospitals and tames a zebra and begins to become accustomed to the life.

"We'll sing in the sunshine, we'll laugh every day." Lyrics

During WWII, an amphibious landing site is established off Florida's Gulf.

Post Executive Officer is Maj. Goodwin a crusty vet who received a battlefield commission during WWII.  Goodwin understands how to get things done and how to deal with military officials and dignitaries.

The reader is there at the birth of the military camp. M/Sgt. Bullock is in charge as the soldiers depart their trains and are transformed from raw recruits into soldiers who will participate in the battles that will win the war. We experience their lives prior to arriving at the military camp and learn some of their dreams. In this, I was reminded to Leon Uris's excellent novel, "Battle Cry," as Marines go through training and prepare for action in the South Pacific.

Since the base is in the south and it has a number of Negro soldiers, we see some of the Klan activities and how rural citizens dealt with Northern Negroes who were in the military and the difficulties in integrating the U.S. Army.

Historical figures also make their appearances, from Carol Lombard to Gen. Omar Bradley and Glenn Miller whose music allows many of the soldiers to put the thoughts of battle aside and enjoy the charm of the music and local girls who they met at various CSOs.

There was good character development and charming characters mixed in with a story that entertained.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Why can't I melt your cold cold heart?

Tami Hoag's novel does a good job explaining the difficulty a person has in dealing with a traumatic brain injury. In the author notes at the end of the story, the author explains that she suffered from this injury herself validating the reality of the story.

Dana Nolan is an upcoming TV news anchor and is kidnapped by a serial killer nicknamed Doc Holiday. She's tortured and mentally abused but manages to kill her abductor and escapes her confinement. The remainder of the story deals with Dana attempting to regain her memory and to find the person who killed her best friend, Casey Grant, who disappeared seven years ago.

As Dana returns home from her rehabilitation, she encounters John Valenti. He's discharged from the military and suffers PTSD from his military experiences. John used to date Casey Grant in high school and was interviewed when Casey disappeared but he was not charges.

Dana has a manner in dealing with her injury and in her attempt to learn what happened to Casey, Dana divides her memory in two. After Dana are the events after her abduction and before Dana is everything else.
There are a number of red herrings and plot surprises.

The characters are fully developed and the story has nice suspense. I think the struggle of Dana and of John dealing with their brain injuries and not giving up provide a good lesson for others dealing with brain injuries or other medical issues.

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