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Game Piece

Game Piece by Alan Brenham

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Murder,She Wrote: Manuscript for Murder

Murder, She Wrote: Manuscript for Murder by Jessica Fletcher & Jon Land

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BOO! A Chilling Tale of Too-Too #MeToo by Simon Plaster

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Game Piece by Alan Brenham

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Game PieceGame Piece is a gripping and heart-pounding thriller, which keeps readers glued to the pages right through to a spine-chilling conclusion. Short chapters give a fast-moving rhythm to the story line and add more excitement to this crime thriller without it feeling choppy or fragmented.

Barry Marshall, a police detective in Temple, Texas, is a self-described workaholic. When Marshall checks out an anonymous lead involving one of his open cases, he discovers a gruesome murder scene. This is only the beginning of a string of murders committed by a killer who appears to have a personal vendetta against Marshall for some inscrutable reason. The two men engage in a deadly cat-and-mouse game. As the game progresses, the stakes escalate for Barry with an unanticipated effect on his career and family. Can Barry end the perpetrator’s reign of terror before his convoluted scheme succeeds?

Trepidation and conflict have been ramped up by Alan Brenham’s excellent handling of not only the multiple points of view but also the transitions between point of view characters. The majority of the story is told from Barry’s viewpoint. However, the third-person point of view provides an added dimension to the story allowing readers to understand the thoughts and motivations of other characters who play an important role.

Murder, She Wrote: Manuscript for Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

Manuscript for Murder

“What’s the most fun you’ve ever had killing someone?”

So opens Manuscript for Murder, the second Murder, She Wrote mystery to be penned by Jon Land and lofty forty-eighth overall, placing the series in rarified air indeed. And rightfully so, given Jessica Fletcher’s status as undeniably America’s most famous sleuth. While the fabulously successful television show starring Angela Lansbury is primarily to blame for that, Land seems determined to have the books leave their own indelible mark on pop culture.

And he takes a great step toward just that end with Manuscript for Murder, a tale that adds thriller elements to already savory mind snack mix that features a more sharply seasoned Jessica herself. She’s got a bit of an edge now and so does this scintillating series entry that bears some resemblance to Umberto Ecco’s The Name of the Rose and, especially, to the great Roman Polanski film The Ghost Writer.

That’s because Manuscript for Murder focuses on just that: a book that kills. Not literally, of course, but close enough given that anyone who reads the manuscript dies, including Jessica’s longtime publisher Lane Barfield who sees the book within a book as the next Da Vinci Code that can restore him to publishing relevance. Not being one to take the murder of friends lightly, Jessica takes up the case, only to find herself marked as the next victim.

Old-school fans of the book series might raise their eyebrows at the thought of incorporating such thrills and spills into the narrative. But Land doesn’t so much reinvent the cozy formula as tweak it a bit. Cabot Cove is still Cabot Cove and the tried and true cast of recurring characters are well represented from Sheriff Mort Metzger to Dr. Seth Hazlitt to private eye Harry McGraw. Land’s dialogue hums with more rapid and pointed exchanges, true more actually to the spirit of the television show than the voluminous series of books that predated his involvement.

BOO! A Chilling Tale of Too-Too #MeToo by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

BooBOO! by Simon Plaster, featuring a cast of some of the most idiosyncratic and humorously twisted characters this side of Oklahoma City, along with his memorable female protagonist, small town reporter turned big, Henrietta, just might be one of the author’s most entertaining and LOL novels yet. In BOO!, Plaster’s latest novel, the author takes satirical jabs at a variety of subjects, including sexual mores and the “Me Too” movement. It’s a book that will delight fans of Plaster’s and anybody who enjoys reading satirical novels that point out the lighter side of controversial topics. No matter if you’re a supporter of the “Me Too” movement or a critic of it, you’ll find something to laugh and think about in the pages of BOO!

As BOO! opens, Henrietta is working in OKC writing for the OKC SCENE, and she has a new boss, Mr. Nigel Fleetwood, a man who wants to take the publication in a new direction. Affecting an English accent, Fleetwood wants the OKC SCENE to incorporate touches that have long been staples of certain UK newspapers, like including more scandalous stories about celebrities and political figures, along with photographs of naked or semi-clothed ladies.

Henrietta’s boss requests that she writes a story for the OKC SCENE about haunted houses in Oklahoma. During her research online, she reads about a haunted castle known as LeRoy’s Castle that is open to the public and features “‘almost live’ entertainment.” The Haunted Castle is beset with all sorts of rumors associated with it. When Henrietta learns that the famous Hollywood producer/director Deano DeBoffo, a character who Plaster has incorporated in past novels in the series, plans to be there soon, she senses the makings of a good news story.

Fractured by Karin Slaughter

Reviewed by Allen Hott

FracturedQuite a story that illustrates not only how cops work but also how criminal minds work while they are plotting some of the terrible crimes that they perpetrate.

It begins with the Campano family being pretty well torn apart when the mother comes upon a crime scene and sees what she believes to be her daughter, Emma, in a horrible condition with a young man hovering over the girl. The mother, with tremendous force powered by her feelings for her daughter, overtakes the man and stabs him to death.

When the police come on the scene they find that the girl was not her daughter and the man was not the assailant! It turns out that the young man was a boyfriend of her daughter. He had earlier come into the house looking for the daughter, his girlfriend.

Where Dragonwoofs Sleep and the Fading Creeps by A.J. Massey

Reviewed by Diane Pollock

The snow burns! Ben has slipped into another world in his sleep, a very odd and magical world indeed. Fairies are mean, snow is hot, humans are referred to as weeds and the whole place is fading away. He embarks on a quest to save this land and meets fellow weeds along the way, as well as a myriad of other fascinating creatures.

Reminiscent of the Oz books, this land is peopled with creatures that are at once familiar and strange, like dragonwoofs. Small dragons that are very doglike in their devotion and culinary tastes! Friendly robots, cruel fairies, translucent elves and more.

River Bodies by Karen Katchur

Reviewed by Vickie Dailey

River BodiesWhile this is considered a thriller – it has great elements but misses the mark. While crimes were committed, why were they committed? How can an entire town be oblivious to what is going on. There were a lot of allusions to a cover-up but no reason as to why.

Deconstructing Sammy: Music, Money, and Madness by Matt Birkbeck

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Deconstructing SammyQuite a book if you are or are not a music fan but especially if you are a Sammy Davis fan. No, the book doesn’t show the best side of Sammy but if you loved him for his music and his fantastic style you can put aside the other part of the picture that the book paints.

First off he was black at a time when blacks were not accepted very well. Yet when he was a child he performed on stage in the Will Mastin Trio (Mastin was his uncle and Sammy Sr. and Jr performed with him). At age seven he played the starring role in Rufus Jones for President with Ethel Waters. He served in the army in WWII and really began his big time show business career shortly after. He had a terrible automobile accident in 1954 and lost his left eye which was replaced by an artificial one.

Most of this is somewhat glossed over in the book as Birkdeck primarily looks at what happened in Sammy’s life from a financial side and seems to paint the dark side of everything. No doubt that much of what is written is true as he explains about Sammy’s marital and sex life.

The Christmas Scorpion: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child (Kindle Version)

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Christmas ScorpionA very different approach this time by Lee Child as he puts Jack Reacher, everybody’s favorite, in a short story! Much of the concept is typical however as Reacher is heading south (as usual) to be warm for the winter. Strangely enough though, it doesn’t work out that way as the small south California town gets hit with a tremendous snow storm. And that storm forces Reacher to finally seek shelter in a very lonely bar/restaurant where only the owner and two other couples are staying…..also trying to stay warm and out of the snow.

And this is where Child starts building his story. It seems one of the couples explain to Reacher that they are Royal Military Police and they were on their way to the nearby military base (where Reacher had been stationed at one time as a Military Policeman). They were part of a group that not only included a very higher-up in English politics but some other very important people from the United States. The snowstorm had torn up their automobile caravan leaving them far behind the others in the group.

They ask Reacher to use his knowledge and possible contacts at the base to get them assistance and find out if the others in their group had arrived. Right after this discussion started the gentleman from the other couple came over and asked if they could please be considered part of the group so that they could somehow get out of the storm.

Prior Bad Acts (Kovac and Liska #3) by Tami Hoag

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Prior Bad ActsAnother very interesting book by Tami Hoag. A mother is found murdered in the worst possible way and two children are also found hanging from a ceiling beam in the basement of a home. They were found by a man seeking refuge from a tremendous storm that was inundating the area.

The story then moves to a courtroom fifteen months later where Judge Carey Moore decides that she will not pass sentence on Karl Dahl, a drifter who was apprehended near the scene and arrested primarily because of prior bad acts even though none of them were extremely bad.

When Moore decides that she will not sentence him, many in and out of the courtroom are up in arms. The prosecuting attorney basically condemns her for not doing her duty. One particular police Detective, Stan Dempsey, really gets upset because he feels Moore has done this too often in the past and has not allowed good police work to be rewarded by stiff sentencing of criminals.

The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The President is MissingTwo celebrated folks collaborating on a story about the possibility of a worldwide internet attack. In this lengthy tale President Duncan, the president of the United States, is faced with a possible cyber terror attack that will shut down not only the United States electronic systems in total but also do harm to several allied countries as well.

However President Duncan who is a highly decorated former soldier and as he has basically been contacted directly by one of the terrorists he decides to work through this pretty much by himself. He does not allow hardly anyone and especially the press know anything about the supposed attack. He handpicks six of his closest advisers and several high tech folks to work with him on figuring out how to do this work.