Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Connelly is simply the best

Jack McEvoy met the same fate so many people are experiencing today. He's given his pink slip from "The Los Angeles Times." There must be 100 cuts and he's number 99. However, he's given fourteen days to train his replacement, Angela Cook.
As Jack is mulling over his fate, he gets a call from Wanda Sessums, Alonzo Winslow's grandmother. She tells him that the paper has the wrong info. Lo did not confess to murder as the paper claims. Please check the facts, he's being set up.
Jack sees a chance to write one more story. Maybe he'll save his job, or maybe teach the paper that they're letting the wrong person go. He even thought that it might be the chance to write the book he's wanted to do.
After checking, he learns that Lo only said that he saw a purse on the front seat of a car so he stole the car and after taking the money from the purse, he opened the trunk and found the body of stripper, Denise Babbit.
Angela Cook does some research and learns that another woman died in the same way as Denise. This woman was also a stripper and was found in the trunk of her car with marks on her arms similar to Denise's.
The reader learns about a place called the Farm and a man named Carver. He is one of the killers. He has a web site for trunk murder search and learns of Angela's inquiry.Thinking things were getting too close, he uses his spy ware and sees that Jack is coming to Vegas to interview the man convicted on killing the first victim.
Carver wants to disrupt Jack. He gets Jack's credit card numbers and calls the company saying they were stolen so put a stop on them, then he finds Jack's email to his boss and deletes it. Finally, he calls the prison and says the prisoner Jack is coming to see, has a hit on him and they need to put him in isolation for his safety.
With all the things going wrong, Jack turns to the only person he could trust, Rachel Walling, the FBI agent he had an affair with when they were working "The Poet" case.
Rachel hears what's happened to Jack and her intuition kicks in. She thinks he's being isolated to be framed or killed so she flies to Vegas and waits for Jack in his room. She doesn't know then but this spoils the attempt on Jack's life by Carver's protege.
Jack and Rachel return to Jack's home and find Angela Cook's body under Jack's bed. Angela calls in the FBI investigators. They are able to trace the emails to the Farm and begin the investigation on Carver.
As usual, Connelly is at his best when dealing out the suspense. The plot was somewhat confusing with Carver and his assistant both being killers. However, Jack is a nice protagonist. He is sincere and shows his ethics in not taking back his job at the expense of another employee. He is also brave and heroic. Rachel is also a good character and reminds me of Jodi Foster in "The Silence of the Lambs."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Death's mirror shines light on the living

4 1/2 stars!

Michael Sykora felt this world collapse when his love, Christina, was raped and strangled. Her killer was a steroid abuser with a history of sexual assaults. Michael knew he needed some closure so after his associate, Sean, found the murderer, Michael made sure the killer would never bother another person. Michael found killing evil doers was providing a new reason to live so began his career as a part time hit man pursuing those who prey on the weak.

One day, Michael got a call from an old friend, Nicki. She was a former prostitute who Michael had a relationship with. Now, Nicki had gotten out of the street life and returned to school. She achieved her associate degree and worked at a women's shelter. One of her clients, Isabel, was constantly being beaten by her boyfriend, Antonio Lott. Nicki recommended that Isabel leave Lott before he hurt her even worse. Antonio thought that Isabel was telling Nicki about his cocaine dealing and child pornography distribution and wants to silence her, permanently.

Nicki can't go to the police because of her former occupation "Who'd believe a former hooker?" In addition, Lott had hidden some cocaine in her apartment so if the police came there they'd find the drugs and discredit her statements.

Michael agreed to help Nicki but learns that Lott has a gang that includes two cousins and two others. He also learns that police are investigating Lott and want to find who he deals with in the pornography so they are following him. How will Michael get to Antonio before Antonio can silence Nicki?

This is a well developed plot. The author states that she is influenced by Tami Hoag and James Patterson and her sense of drama might be due to that influence. Michael is a good protagonist. He has his humane features seen in dealing with his father's terminal illness, yet he cares for those less able to care for themselves. Nicki is also a well developed character. The author, Darcia Helle, states that she is also influenced by Janet Evanovich and Nicki seems like she could have jumped out of one of Evanovich's books to this one.

Overall, well done and recommended.

Friday, September 25, 2009

One generation plants trees, the next gets shade.

Gillian Flynn has created a novel with such a powerful ending that the reader will want to reread the book immediately.
Libby Day is only 7 when her mother and two sisters are massacred. She is the witness against her brother, Ben, who is found guilty of the crime.
Now, twenty five years have past and her money is running out. She gets a letter from the Kill Club, a group of crime solving wannabees. They feel that Ben has wrongly been sentenced for the crime. Libby agrees to meet with them and for a fee she agrees to look into the deaths of her family and report her findings to the club.
From this point the story flash backs in alternating chapters so we can see where Libby is with her investigation and back to the time just prior to the murders. We see what the family was going through. Libby's mother, Patty Day, was going through tough times in attempting to raise four children by herself. She feared the farm was going to be lost to foreclosure. Ben was fifteen, a lonely teenager with few friends and a meddling sister, Michelle, who taunted him.
As Libby gets closer to the answers of what happened that night, she is suddenly cast back to the same position she was in twenty five years ago, running for her life with a killer intending to make her a final victim.
There is power and uniqueness in this story. Libby is a dark, yet interesting character. She is flawed but brave and determined to find the answers to what happened to her family. The pace of the story is well conceived as if it had a heart-beat that sped up as the story draws to an end with the reader moving to the edge of their seat to see what happens to Libby.
The author, Gillian Flynn, has been nominated for an Edgar award for her novel, "Sharp Objects" which won two British Daggers. Movie rights to that novel have been sold and the author is working on the screen adaptation.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Shattered" might keep you up at night.

In England, Joe O'Loughlin just finished teaching a class in psychology when the police ask his help in preventing a woman who is considering suicide. He goes with them and finds a naked woman on a bridge. He attempts to dissuade her but she says "you don't understand" and jumps.
Joe is a decent sort of guy and troubled that he couldn't save the woman. Later, a sixteen year old girl comes to his door. She says she, Darcy Wheeler, is the daughter of the suicide woman, Christine. Darcy tells Joe that she can't believe that her mother would commit suicide in such a manner since she was afraid of heights. She asks Joe to look into it.
He agrees and one person he speaks to is Sylvia Furness, Christine's business partner. However, he doesn't get anywhere so calls his friend, Victor Ruiz. Victor is a retired police investigator. Together they look into Christine's last hours. They find a note in her car "Help Me" and when they show that to the police, the investigation turns from suicide to murder.
Another body is found. Sylvia Furness, is the victim. She is also naked and handcuffed to a tree. She died of exposure. In the following chapter we read what Sylvia went through and learn that the killer checked facts on her daughter and then called Sylvia, claiming the he had her daughter and was going to rape her unless Sylvia would change places with her and agree to his demands.
With this death, the lead investigator, DI Veronica Cray, asks Joe's official help in finding the killer and stopping him before another woman dies.
The story moves well and in alternating chapters we learn the killer's plans and his history. The man is Gideon Tyler, an Afghanistan vet who worked in Intelligence and was a ruthless investigator. We eventually learn that Gideon's wife and daughter have vanished and he is looking for them while taking his hatred out on her old friends.
Joe is a nice character. He is intelligent but has his humaneness with his imperfections such as the Parkinson's disease and inability to help the first woman. He is also having difficulty with his wife and we don't know if this is the stress of his work or if something else is going on. Darcy Wheeler is also an interesting character and since this book is part of a series, I hope to see her in a future book.
"Shattered" has been nominated for a Barry Award and for the 2009 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger and CWA Library Dagger award.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"The Fire" a washout

When I received an advanced reading copy of "The Fire" I anticipated an enjoyable read. This is the long awaited follow up to Katherine Neville's well reviewed "The Eight." However, I was disappointed with the book.
In "The Eight" the characters are unique and energized. In this work there is a lack of character development and the characters come across as stereotypes and cardboard figures.
Alexandra Solarin was in a chess tournament at the start of the story. If she won, she would become the youngest chess grandmaster while still under the age of 12.

Later, she is a young woman, she is attending the Culinary Institute and she is recruited by the CIA. Is this a play on letters? Culinary Institute is also CIA.
She travels to her mother's home in Colorado to attend a birthday party. The odd thing is that her mother never has birthdays. At the party is a room full of chess champions. The mother has disappeared but has left clues to her disappearance in the form of a chess game and riddles that must be solved. There has been some comparison of this novel to "The Da Vinci Code" with the puzzles but "The Fire" doesn't measure up.
There are alternating chapters where we are in present time and go back to ancient Persia. In many novels this is an effective tool to give background and history but here, in a slow moving story, it lessens any suspense and makes the novel more ponderous.
In addition, I had difficulty with the premise of the Magdalene Chess set that was the search in which the novel centered. The possession of the chess set contained a curse but also gives great power to the possessor. Therefore the set was scattered around and now Andrea was attempting to find the final pieces. She was also deemed to be the white queen. Preposterous.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Read the books in this series in order.

This is the fifteenth novel with the Troubleshooters, Inc. To the author's credit, it has become an immediate bestseller.
Alyssa Locke is a former Naval officer and FBI agent. She is the team leader for the nation's leading personal security company, Troubleshooters, Inc.
She's contacted to give a course in public safety to newly elected New York congresswoman, Maria Bonavita. The woman has had a number of threats against her.
Alyssa and her team, made up of former navy SEALs travel to New York and set up security around the congresswoman.
At the same time, the reader is given privy to the thoughts of a killer only known as The Dentist. Alyssa has hunted this man for a long time. Now his latest kill has been ruined and he wants to give himself up. He sees Alyssa enter a Starbucks and feels he can only surrender to her. However, when he enters the store, she is talking to someone else and The Dentist's moment is spoiled. It was so close, the last victim's body is still in the trunk of his car. However, now he feels that he has been given permission to kill again. He selects Alyssa as his next target.
Since the novel is the fifteenth book with this group of characters, the author must assume that the reader is familiar with the character's backgrounds. In this case, this novel is the first time I have read of the Troubleshooters. That being said, the characters do not have any real character development and come across stereotypical.
In addition, I felt that the antagonist's near invincibility until the end of the story was a reach. With the many SEALs and the New York police department after him, he goes on his hunt as if he didn't have a care in the world. Implausible.
I'm sure that the readers of previous books in this series would have a different opinion.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reading history just makes me realize I'm old.

1897 in New York, someone attacks Senora Isabella Linares, the wife of a Spanish official. They hit her on the head and steal her baby.

The story is told from Stevie Taggert's point of view. Stevie is a former street urchin who is street smart but book ignorant. He is in a team of characters, Sara Howard who totes a derringer and has just opened a private eye business, John Schuyler Moore, a crime reporter, Marcus and Lucas Isaacson, New York City detectives.

They find details of the kidnapping and have Isobella go to an artest to make a sketch of the attacker. With copies of the sketch the Isaacsons check the police files and find a match for a nurse, Elspeth Hunter, aka, Libby Hatch, who was investigated for due to a number of infant deaths of the same respiratory ailment when the children were in her care. She is questioned and resigned.

The group go to her home. She lets them in but they don't have any evidence of the child. Later Stevie breaks in with a friend who has a dog that can smell scents. They find a hidden room but can't open the door due to the steel frame. The group gets hair fibers that they can identify but need more proof so travel by boat to upstate New York to learn more of Libby's background.

The book goes into such extensive detail that it becomes too long. The slow reading led to less interest in the resolution. It was very historical but the characters were somewhat enjoyable but also rather cardboard figures. Not much character build up but much historical information.

The ending was satisfactory but also a relief to get there.

Not for the meek at heart.

Emily Stone has a mission in life, she tracks down child killers and then anonymously emails evidence against them to the authorities to lead to the killer's arrest.
After one such report, she's run off the road in a hit and run accident. Her car is badly damaged and she's taken to the hospital. Officials want to know about the weapons and laptop in her car. She tells them it's because she's a writer. The weapons are registered and for safety, the laptop for writing.
When she arrives home, her neighbor and friend Theresa Blandon, tells her about a new neighbor, Donald Everett. He's crazy and has been intimidating the other neighbors.
Emily goes to the police department. She sees Det. Ray Lopez, who is looking at a homicide report when she arrives. Em tells Ray about Everett and asks him to run a check on him. At first Ray is preoccupied but later runs the check and sees many complaints against Everett. He knows Em has a right to be nervous but there isn't enough for a search warrant.
Emily is drawn to danger. She learns about a recent homicide and that it appears the work of two serial killers.
The reader doesn't know her motive at this point but she goes to the scene of the murder to look for clues. When she enters an old building, someone slams the door shut and locks it. Then she hears a dog and sees it's a pit bull who is trying to get into the building. Em notices that the walls are not that sturdy and kicks one out and gets to her car before the dog can reach her.
As if the scene with the dog wasn't enough foolishness, Emily dissatisfied with the police help, breaks into Everett's home. She searches the home and his computer and when he arrives, she surprises him, overcomes him and ties him up. She tries to threaten him and has a mask on but he recognizes her and she leaves.
What she thought she could accomplish isn't clear and leaving the crazy man near her neighbors was, at least, a careless act.
Ray has shown some interest at this time and seems drawn to Emily. She knows where he's staying and goes to his room. They talk and she tells him that the reason she seeks killers is that her parents were murdered and this is her promise to them, to catch other killers. Ray and Emily become intimate and she asks if he needs another pair of eyes to help his case.
"Compulsion" has good action and suspense but the protagonist's actions are bewildering. How could she go to a crime scene without her weapons? Also, how could this investigator not anticipate what Everett would do after she antagonized him?
That being said, it is also a hard story to read due to the sensitive material of serial killers who murder so easily. For those interested in crimes against women and those who can stomach serial killers, they would find the book interesting, other readers might find too much murder.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What are the makings of a killer spy?

Evan Casher had a normal life until he gets a call from his mother that she needs to see him immediately. He gets to her home and someone has murdered her. The killers are still there and put a noose around his neck, it looks like the end but he's saved by a man who says he's a friend of his mothers.

Jargo Steven is the man who killed Evan's mom. He works with his son, Dezz. Carrie Lindstrom is a girl posing as Ev's girlfriend to find the files he has on his computer.
The man who saved Evan is ex CIA named Gabriel. He tells Evan that his mother hired him to get her out of Austin. He tells Evan that Jargo is an information broker and freelance spy. Gabriel also knows about the files on the computer and when he keeps asking about them, Evan gets nervous overcomes Gabriel and runs from him.
Evan learns that everything he believed about his family and his past has been made up. By checking the names on various passports of his father that Evan finds, he finds one name that sounds possible. His research shows a stroy of a family who disappeared years ago. The story mentions a concerned neighbor. Evan calls the woman and asks her to check the photo of his mother on "CNN. The woman recognizes her and Evan learns that his name was Robert Peterson.
Next, Evan looks up an acquaintance who owes him a favor. He gets money and the use of a computer from the man, Shady. He calls Jargo and learns that he's holding Evan's father, Mitchell Casher. They arrange to meet. He also calls a person who says he is with the CIA and is looking for Jargo and tells the man, Bricklayer, about the meeting. When he spoke to Jargo, Evan pretended that he had the info on the computer and he learns that it is supposed to be Jargo's client list. At the meeting, there is a shoot-out and a major plot twist that is nicely done and adds drama and realism to the plot.
Carrie tells Evan that she is really a CIA undercover and she is working with Bricklayer. They need the client list to stop Jargo.
The story gets convoluted at the end and there is a somewhat unbelievable transformation of Evan from the documentary film maker at the start of the novel to a super spy at the end. However, it was fun reading it and enjoying the drama.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Send Horvath to Afghanistan and our war will soon be over.

Dr. Julia Gallo is kidnapped in Afghanistan. The Taliban want her for a prisoner swap. They want mass murdering terrorist, Mustafa Kahn, released.
The president, Robert Alden, is grateful to Stephanie Gallo who helped orchestrate his campaign but now her daughter has been kidnapped and she wants the president to help get her back. He has a new approach to dealing with terrorists and doesn't believe in direct action. When he hesitates to help, Stephanie reminds him that she has info on the president's accessory in the deaths of four innocent people and the conspiracy to cover it up. Not far away, secret service agent, Elsie Campbell, overhears this conversation.
They summon Scot Horvath, counter terrorism operative who has been put out of action by the president's new laid back plan. They ask Scot to deliver Kahn to the terrorists as payment for Dr. Gallo's release.
When Scot gets to Kabul, he looks up an old associate, former recon Marine, Greg Gallagher. Scot also meets Greg's partner, Tom Hoyt, and their associate, Flower, an Afghan. By bribing a police official, they find out where Kahn is being held.
Meanwhile, the head of the local Taliban is Mullah Massoud. He is holding Julia captive. An Afghan boy inappropriately touches her and Mullah's brother breaks the boy's jaw. When the boy's father complains, Mullah has his Soviet advisor kill the man but make it look like an accident. Unfortunately for the Soviet, Serge
Simonov, two men from the father's village see him kill the father and he has to kill them. Now that village wants revenge on the Taliban.
Scot and his team free Kahn. Then with the help of the men in the father's village, go in search of Julia.
In Washington, D.C. Elsie Campbell has done her investigation of the president's cover up. What will she do with this information? How will Scot save Julia?
This is a wonderful action thriller that had me sitting at the edge of my chair and holding my breath to see what would happen next. Scot Horvath is a hero and admirable in a similar manner as is Lee Child's protagonist, Jack Reacher. Only major difference, Horvath deals with terrorists and takes the team approach.
Both are excellent.

A well written story that is strongly recommended.

An oldie but a goodie

This novel was the setting for the film of the same name in 1996.
Erin Grant, a former FBI employee has had her daughter Angela taken from her and given to her husband Darrell Grant in a custody dispute. Darrell made up some lies about Erin and got a couple of buddies on the sheriff's department to back him up so the judge gave him custody. Now she's been dancing in a strip joint to raise money to pay for an appeal.
One night, Congressman Dave Dilbeck attends the strip club. Another patron is with friends celebrating a bachelor party. The soon to be married customer gets on the stage and begins groping one of the dancers. Dilbeck is incensed and drunk. He jumps on the stage and begins hitting the celebrant with a bottle of champagne, knocking him senseless.
Another customer, Jerry Killian recognizes the congressman and takes a photo. He knows about Erin's daughter and sends her a note that he may be able to get her daughter back. He thinks he's going to persuade the congressman to use his influence to get the judge to change his mind and the photo will make the congressman agree to his demand.
Malcolm Moldowsky is the congressman's "fix-it" man. He learns that Killian is planning to use the photo in a detrimental manner and since this is an election year that can't be good. He makes a call and Killian turns up dead.
A subplot has the club bouncer, Shad, working with attorney Mordecai to sue Dilbeck for the trama he caused at the club. Mordecai is also working with the fiance of the bachelor and wants to sue Dilbeck for damages.
Sgt. Al Garcia is a moral character. He is the one who finds Killian's body and promises to catch his killer.\
This is an excellent novel. It had me smiling as one funny segment led to the next. Dilbert is such a timely character and reminiscent of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. I wonder if the author has a sense of the future.
Nicely done and sure to give the reader many enjoyable moments.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"The Chalk Circle Man" is Hercule Poirot back?

"The Chalk Circle Man" introduces detective Commissaire Jean Baptiste Adamsberg who uses his brain to figure things out rather than old fashioned detective methods. He suspects something sinister when he spots blue chalk circles appearing in the Paris neighborhoods.

Adamsberg and his assistant, Adrien Danglard are tracking the chalk circles and what is being placed in them. It gets progressively serious, a dead mouse, a dead cat and finally, it happens. A woman, Madeline Chatelain, is found with her throat cut, inside the chalk circle.

In another part of the story, Mathelde Forestier, an oceanographer becomes friends with a young man, Charles Reyer. She calls Adamsberg and tells him that she has seen the man who draws circles. From the things she does and other actions, Adamsberg begins to think that she might be the killer. However, he realises that she is innocent. With his knowledge of human activity, Adamsberg feels that the killer is about to strike again and tells Mathelde to stay home that night as a precaution.

It becomes a cat and mouse game with Adamsberg figuring where the killer might strike next and eliminating the suspects in attempt to catch the killer. However, the killer murders another woman. This time Delphine Le Nermord is the victim. Now Adamsberg interviews her family and friends to see who might have a motive for her death.

Painstakingly, the investigation moves on, at times it seems that it is a new version of Agatha Christie and that Adamsberg has studied under Hercule Poirot. Finally, the killer is caught and charged with four murders.

The story was dry, a psychological novel with much thought and little action. A quick read that was a pleasant change of pace.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Not one of Baldacci's best

Ex CIA agents Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are asked to meet Pam Dutton, who wants to hire them.
When they arrive at her home, someone has murdered her and kidnapped her daughter, Willa. Willa is the First Lady's niece and she hires Sean and Michelle to find Willa.

Sam Quarry, a fanatic, is behind the kidnapping. he sent his son, Daryl, and a man named Kurt to carry out his orders. When Pam Dutton fought back, Daryl killed her by mistake. Quarry wants to make the two men pay for their mistake but can't discipline his son so Quarry kills Kurt, as a lesson.

Sean and Michelle are told that Pam's husband has been having an affair. This could be the reason to stage the kidnapping and have Pam killed so Sean checks it out. Meanwhile, Michelle gets a call that her mother has just died. She returns to her parent's home to find that her mother was murdered, so stays home to investigate that crime.

Quarry has also kidnapped another woman, Diane Wohl and the two kidnappers spend time together. Later, Sam tells Diane that she is actually Willa's mother, the child she put up for adoption twelve years ago.

The story takes a long time to develop and the reader must put up with the sub plot around Michelle's mother's murder. This takes away from the suspense of the kidnapping and adds confusion. This is the fourth Baldacci novel involving King and Maxwell, the last being, "Simple Justice." In this story King and Maxwell do not evoke sympathy. Sean clashes with CIA and FBI investigators who are also attempting to find Willa. The all knowing private investigator and the stiff, inflexible federal agents has been done too many times and doesn't come off in this story. Willa, is a charmer and was an excellent character.

Overall, not one of Baldacci's better novels but still enjoyable.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Climb aboard for a good read.

"The Venona Cable" is Brent Ghelfi's third novel with Volk as the protagonist.
Volk is a Russian agent and criminal. He's arrested at the Moscow airport and brought to his warehouse where he's shown the murdered body of American cinematographeer, Everett Walker. He's told that Walker had been looking for Volk and had a photo of Volk's father who had disappeared 30 years ago. The police want to know why Volk killed him. After questioning Volk, beating him and leaving him in his cell, he's finally released in order to find out what Walker was up to.
Volk finds a secret hidden in Walker's driver's license. Since Walker was good with film, he used a photographic technique to hide the document. What Volk found was the Venona Cable, a document that told of a meeting of Roosevelt and Churchill where they discussed opening a second front against Germany. The info from the meeting came from a spy, code named "19".
Later, Volk meets former KGB officer Isadora. She tells Volk that she worked with his father in America. She states that Volk's father worked in the aerospace industry for a firm called Loreli Industries.
Volk continues his investigation and he's summoned to Capt. Oleg Basoff who is high in the ranks of Russian intelligence. Basoff tells Volk that Volk's father worked for him and that his father was really an undercover agent.
Volk knows that Basoff wants Volk to find out if his father was really a spy or was he a double agent. Volk's boss, General Novoskaya arranges for Volk to go to America to where his father spent time. Before Volk leaves, a policeman, Rykov tells him that he just learned that someone killed Volk's father in 2004 and thinks Basoff had Volk's father killed.
When Volk arrives in Albuquerque, he meets NCIX agent Elizabeth Rhodes. She's sympathetic and seems to want to help. Elsewhere at Loreli Industries we learn that the man in charge is Alfred Reese. Reese talks to his henchman, Santorini and tells him to take care of Volk.
As the plot progresses, we learn that there are various spies trying to get information and it's hard to know who to trust. We do find out who killed Volk's father and who killed Walker.
Volk is an excellent protagonist. He's street smart, though tender with his girlfriend, Valya. He's emotional about his father and loyal to his country.
The action paced plot is complex but works well. The various agents are well depicted and properly dealt with. The first two Volk novels have been optioned for screen and this story should make a good addition.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Currently Reading

Volk is arrested in Moscow and brought to his warehouse. He's shown the body of an elderly man who he can tell was an American. Volk is told that the victim, Everett Walker, was a famous cinematographer who had been blackballed by Hollywood. He traveled to Moscow and lived in an inexpensive hotel as if he didn't want to be noticed by the authorities. When his body was discovered, he had a photo of himself with Volk's father. The Russian jailer wants to know the details since Volk's father was supposed to have died thirty years ago.
The officials let Volk out of prison to find out what Walker was up to.
Volk agrees because whatever it is, he wants to clear the family name.

"A Circle of Souls" Update Book cover

Latest cover for "A Circle of Souls"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.

In "A Circle of Souls" a paranormal thriller by Preetham Grandhi, a ten year old child, Janet Troy, takes a shortcut home and is overcome and murdered.

Elsewhere, Naya Hastings, a seven year old, normally happy child is brought into the psych ward after having severe nightmares. She was found on her balcony where her mother believed she was planning to jump, believing that she could fly.

Since Janet's schoolbag was found in her neighbor, Presidential Candidate Thomas Bailey's property, Lisa Bines, an FBI agent with the CAC (Crimes Against Children) team is called in.

In the psych ward, Dr. Peter Graham is attending Naya. He is also fighting with her insurance coverage and is given only three days of testing before she must be released.

Det. Jose Rodriguez of the Newberry PD picks Leia up at the airport and while driving back to Newberry they're notified that Janet's body has been found. When they arrive at the scene they are horrified to find that Janet has been dismembered. Her head is at Elephant Rock and the other body parts are placed as if they represent a stick figure.

That night, Janet appears in Naya's dream. She tells Naya about her death and asks for her help. The next morning, Naya draws a picture if Janet's body at Elephant Rock and shows it to Peter. He is astounded and in disbelief.

Peter knows the area and goes to Elephant Rock to investigate. Leia is also there and at first she thinks Peter is the murderer but then spots someone running away through the woods and tries to follow.

We learn that the slaaf, (slave) had sacrificed Janet to appease Anansi (a figure from a folklore story in Jamaica). The slaaf's father had warned his son abut Anansi and made him afraid. Constantly fearing this spirit, another fortune teller told him he could cut up another animal in such a way that the Anansi would believe that it was him.

Scenes from this story are described in a literary, suspenseful manner. The author, Preetham Grandhi, was born in India, influenced by Alistari MacLean, and being an MD, he gives a realistic view of the hospital atmosphere.

Peter is an interesting character and what is found about him is truly startling. There is almost a connection to TV's "Ghost Whisperer" where a character can communicate with the earthbound spirits of the dead who are seeking help.

Little Naya is a precious, terrific character who lightens up the story.

Well done and recommended.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

There's a lesson in this book.

Derek Cutter thinks he's got it made. His neighbors are going on vacation. He's going to hide in their home and when they're gone, this seventeen year old will have a place to party with his girlfriend, Penny.

Plans are made to be broken and the family, the Langley's, return home because Mrs. Langley, has become ill. Derek is still in the basement when he hears another car pull up. Suddenly, he hears gunshots as the newcomer kills the family.

Derek is ashamed of what he was planning and doesn't tell his father, Jim, what happened.

Jim and Derek have a business cutting lawns. One customer, Agnes Stockwell, had a computer she wasn't using and gave it to Derek. He and Adam Langley explored what was on the computer. He finds a pornographic novel and makes a copy.

After the Landley's are killed, Derek tells his father about the computer and the novel. When Jim begins reading the novel, he recognizes it as one written by his wife's boss, Conrad Chase. Jim also remembers that Stockwell's son committed suicide 10 years ago and that's when Conrad said he wrote the novel. Did he steal it?

The police have evidence of Derek being in Langley's home and arrest him. While he's jailed, Jim hires a man he's just met. The man, Drew, tells Jim that he just got out of jail for robbing a bank but Jim needs the help. Drew also tells Jim that while he was in jail, his teenage daughter died.

The plot has a number of twists as Jim is accusing Conrad of stealing the book, Derek is released when the police find the gun and it's the same weapon used in two other murders. Who could be behind these killings?

Barclay does another fine job with his story. There is a lesson that Barclay's told before about parents communicating with their children and being aware of what their children are up to. However, how parents can do this is unanswered.

There is good character development in Jim and Drew and the Mayor, Randall Finley, is the reincarnation of Burt Reynolds in the movie "Strip Tease".

Very enjoyable read, I recommend it.

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