Saturday, February 25, 2012

"I saw the harbor lights. They only told me we were parting." Lyrics

The harbor district of San Pedro in Los Angeles is the center of action in "Harbor Nocturne." Besides the business activities of the harbor, the area is made up of many ethnic groups, and adult bookstores.

The overworked Los Angeles Police Department is attempting to patrol an area that has many street gangs and other residents who don't speak the same language as the Police.

Dinko Babich, a second generation Croatian. He works on the docks but is currently suspended. He doesn't have much ambition or meaning to his life.

Dinko does a favor for a friend and takes a young Mexican dancer, Lita Medina, to a nightclub for an employment interview.

These two innocent characters have a magnetic attraction toward each other. They fall in love amidst what is going on at the adult dance hall and the trafficking in illegal aliens.

When thirteen Asians are found suffocated on a transportation container of a ship that had docked in San Pedro, police are brought into the investigation. There is a public outcry to find and punish those responsible.

With Joseph Wambaugh there is always humor in the midst of the human drama being played out in the harbor area. In this case, there is a wealthy Russian investor who has an unusual fetish in amputated limbs.

Dinko and Lita's love grows, and is tenderly described. However, one of Lita's dance hall roommates notices something that has to do with the the deaths of the Asians but then goes missing.

To observe Lita, a poor Mexican nineteen-year-old, find apparent happiness with Dinko, the reader is captured by their strong feelings and we have hope for their future together.

The action moves in waves and is interspersed with the stories of the members of the third watch in the patrol division of the LAPD.

The characters are a conglomeration of truly evil people and those who are honest and trying to make a living. In between are the LAPD who observe life around them in a philosophical and humorous manner. Irony exists with some of the action taking place on the Hollywood walk of stars, crowded with criminals planning the elimination of a possible witness.

A very entertaining novel that depicts life and hope and the sadness that exists.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it." Tagore


In this contemporary and far reaching novel, "Bleed for Me," the author describes the world of impressionable teenage girls and the manner in which they can be manipulated by men who prey on the innocent.

Michael Robotham's words are dramatically compelling as we follow the action.

Psychologist Joe O'Loughlin is a terrific character. He suffers from Parkinson's disease but tries not to let this health issue deter him. His wife, Julianne, has left him and his eldest daughter, Charlie, age fourteen, shows her rebellious spirit. He works on finding answers to this case while desperately trying to hold on to his family.

Charlie's best friend, Sienna, shows up at Julianne's home covered with blood but then runs away.

Julianne calls Joe who is able to find her by the river bank, "huddled between the roots of a tree like a discarded doll."

Sienna is almost totally unresponsive and her vulnerability touches Joe. She claims to be unable to recall what happened but a search of her home reveals that her father, Ray Hegarty, has been murdered.

This is only the beginning of this heart stopping story. We learn of Sienna's father's relationship to Sienna and to her older sister. Then we discover Sienna's social life and this includes her seeing an older man - secretly.

The momentum builds as Joe confronts a man he suspects of taking advantage of Sienna and murdering her father. Doors are forced open as the story goes deeper and new suspects are discovered.

This powerful novel is one that shouldn't be missed, not just for a story that packs a punch but also for the message of the vulnerability of young girls and the adults who prey on their naivety.

Giveaway rules:
a. there will be two winners. To qualify you must be a follower of this blog.
b. use above link and see my review of the book on Amazon. At the end of the review, please indicate that the review was helpful.
c. leave e-mail address for contact and indicate you have completed steps a and b
d. U.S. and Canada only
e. Giveaway ends at midnight March 12th.
f. add to Google circles if possible.

Good luck and have fun.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath." Aeschylus


When stressed out Dr. John Meacham goes on a shooting spree, killing a umber of patients and fellow employees, Dr. Lou Welcome is blamed.

Lou had been overseeing his friend, Dr. Meacham, a Physicians Wellness. This organization counsels and tries to help doctors who have psychological problems resulting in their loss of anger. They also council doctors who medicate themselves with drugs and alcohol.

As the story progresses, we observe Lou's compassionate nature wile a number of other characters exhibit unexplained anger that seems to take control of their body for a time, and then, if they haven't done anything fatal, goes away. The person exhibiting this anger seems almost unaware of what happened. We witness a number of tragic events due to this extreme anger. Lou tries to find out what is causing it.

He meets Dr. Darlene Mallory, the First Lady of the United States and they form a bond together, both trying to find answers to this mystery.

The characters are realistically portrayed. Lou's thirteen-year-old daughter Emily is a charmer. The author brings her and Lou to life at moments such as when they are spending time playing monopoly. In reality, Lou is using the game so he can see how Emily is doing with her mother and new step-father. How many parents don't know how to communicate with teenage children? In this novel, the author provides a number of good lessons.

The plot is laid out nicely with some interesting surprises. I found the book to be very entertaining and recommend it to readers who enjoy medical thrillers and good suspense.


1. be a follower of this blog

2. use above link and go to the Amazon review and indicate that the review was helpful.

3. leave email address for contact and note that you have completed steps 1 and 2.

4. Add to Google circles if possible

5. Giveaway ends Feb. 29th.

6. This is for an advanced review copy

7. U. S. and Canada only -sorry, postage.

Have fun.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Amazing Grace how sweet the sound."

When a famous novelist in New England dies violently, family secrets begin to unravel.

Adam Blaine, had been estranged from his father, Benjamin. Now, after years apart, he returns to his father's funeral.

Soon after, Adam learns that his father had recently changed his will so that his home and most of his estate is to go to a young actress, Carla Pacelli. Jenny Leigh, a struggling writer also receives a large sum of money. However, Benjamin's wife - who is Adam's mother, Clarice, and Adam's brother, Teddy, who is gay, are left out of the will.

Adam is in a difficult position in that he is the executor of his father's will and to do justice to the estate, would do injustice to his mother and brother.

The action drags in the story. There were times when I felt like shouting to get on with the story. There doesn't seem to be an urgency to solve the mystery of did Benjamin fall from a cliff, or was he pushed, or was it suicide.

I also didn't find that the dialogue matched the characters as even fisherman spoke with a sophistication of college graduates.

I wanted to enjoy the story more but the plot proceeds at a level too slow to maintain suspense.

The author did have me curious to know what would happen at the end of the story so I rate it 2 1/2 stars moving up to 3 for keeping my interest.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"A person is a fool to become a writer. His only recourse is absolute freedom." Dahl

Luther Whitney is a thief with a conscience.

He breaks into a home of a wealthy family in Washington, D.C. and while there, the woman of the house returns early for a romantic interlude with her lover. Luther hides in the woman's closet but can see what is going on.

The sex turns rough and the man is unable to perform due to his alcoholic state. As the woman ridicules the man he grabs her throat and a struggle ensues. The woman grabs a letter opener and moves after the man when two other men break into the room. They see that the woman is about to stab the man so the two men both fire and kill the woman.

The man is the president of the United States and when Gloria Russell, the President's chief of staff tries to sanitize the room, she leaves the letter opener which have the President's prints on it.

Luther sees them leave, grabs the letter opener and escapes. But the secret service realize they don't have the weapon so rush back to the room to observe it has been taken.

David Baldacci ratchets up the mood instantly as the Secret Service tries to cover their tracks and Luther attempts to set something in motion that will lead to uncovering the President as a killer and exposing the political corruption.

This is my second reading of Baldacci's blockbuster debut novel and it is every bit as good as the first reading. We follow the hunted and await the death knell as the realistic characters collide in their attempt to hide or, for others, to unearth the truth.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

"Defending the truth is not something done from a sense of duty...but as a reward in itself." de Beauvoir

At the start of "Defending Jacob," the prior district attorney, Andy Barber, is facing the grand jury and we realize that some terrible thing has occurred.

Neal Logiudice is questioning Barber about why he accepted the case of Ben Rifkin's killing. Ben was a schoolmate of Andy's son, Jacob.

Andy had been a successful assistant district attorney in suburban Massachusetts for years. As the story progresses, things begin to unravel and the comfortable life that Andy had, begins to shatter.

His son, Jacob is accused of the crime but Andy thinks that this is nonsense. Andy's deliberate approach to solving the crime begins to look like he wasn't giving the case his full attention and should have given the case to another district attorney due to a possible conflict of interest.

Logiudice's blind ambition becomes apparent as he creates enough uncertainty about Andy that Andy is put on paid leave and the prosecution is given to Logiudice.

How far would a father go to protect his son? This is a question that arises in the book. Andy has no doubt that his son is innocent and he makes mistakes in questioning Jacob's friends after Andy had been taken off the case.

There is not only suspense but more. This is a story that grabs at the reader's heart and squeezes it as we wonder what we would do in a similar situation.

Fans of Scott Turow will be entertained by this courtroom mystery. William Landay is a storyteller at his peak. The dialogue is exceptional and as Andy speaks, it is as if we are in the room with him experiencing the moment.

The concluding moments of this novel are such that the reader will gasp with astonishment.
This is a powerful novel that shouldn't be missed.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

"One man's poison is another man's spinach" George Ade


Jane Whitefield has made her compassion for the less fortunate an advocation. She makes a living helping people disappear. In the past she has helped women trying to escape from abusive situations or from various people who were being hunted by killers.

James Shields was framed for his wife's murder and now the people who framed him want him dead. He's in prison but called to testify about a case. While awaiting his trip to the courthouse, Jane stages an escape.

However, she is caught by the people who want Shields dead. In attempting to escape from these people, Jane is shot and taken to a secluded place where they think they can force her to talk about what she knows.

Jane is able to withstand their punishment but at a terrible cost. She's told that other people who Jane deprived of their victims, want to get revenge against her. To do so, Jane will be put up for auction to the highest bidder.

The author has a wonderful talent for bringing to light the situations that some unfortunate people get into. He makes us feel sympathetic for these people who are being taken advantage of without having someone to turn to.

Compared to many of the central protagonists in thrillers today, Jane is unique for bringing her empathitic nature into a story. She's not a super hero but is able to put herself into the position of the current victim and use her skills to help alieviate the situation.

The pacing is fast and filled with excellent adventure as Jane does her best to save herself and the people she's helping avoid their deadly fate. She also shows her other side in wanting to finish the case and get back to her husband and maybe to start a family.

This is a very enjoyable story that shows the strength of one woman and what good things a person can do for others. It is a lesson for us all.

1. be a follower of this blog
2. use above link and go to the Amazon review and indicate that the review was helpful
3. leave email address indicating you desire to enter the giveaway and have done steps 1 and 2
4. Add Mike to Google circles, if possible
5. This is for an advanced review copy
6. Giveaway ends Feb 19th.
7. U.S. and Canada only.


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Broken Promise