Monthly Archives: September 2011

L.A. Mental: A Thriller by Neil McMahon

L.A. MentalReviewed by Nancy Eaton

Dr. Tom Crandall, a clinical psychologist, is awakened late one night by a telephone call. The call was from his brother Nick who is addicted to drugs. Dr. Crandall knew things did not sound good and he had to get to Nick as soon as possible.

When he found Nick, Dr. Crandall witnessed a very bizarre behavior by his brother. Nick kept saying that worms were inside his brain. Dr. Crandall tried to do everything possible to calm down Nick but before he could stop him, Nick goes over the cliff and lands in the water. What is going on with Nick? Test results show some drugs present but they are not the type of results Tom expected.

Many strange things start to happen including Paul, Tom’s brother, allowing a movie company to build a set on one of their properties and threats to Tom’s family. The movie producer is a scientist who is rather bizarre. Could there be some connection between this movie company and what happened to Nick?

Defensive Wounds: A Novel of Suspense by Lisa Black

Defensive WoundsReviewed by Nancy Eaton

Forensic scientist Theresa MacLean receives a message from her daughter, Rachael, who works at the front desk of the Ritz-Carlton. The hotel is hosting a convention for defense attorneys. Rachael informs Theresa that someone is dead. The person murdered is Marie Corrigan, a high profile lawyer, who is not well liked by many including Theresa. Marie was known to do some unethical things to win her case including falsifying evidence.

Theresa begins an investigation and really has a very difficult job to do because any type of evidence found could belong to anyone who has checked into the room. Theresa is very thorough with what she does. She also runs different scenarios through her mind as to what could have happened to Marie. The way the killer left Marie’s body was also very strange.

It doesn’t take long for two more bodies to show up. Is someone killing defensive attorneys on a random basis or is there some kind of link between each person?

Cry for Justice by Ralph Zeta

Cry for JusticeReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Successful Palm Beach lawyer Jason Justice specializes in divorce cases involving prenuptial agreements. Even when the agreement seems iron-clad, he can often find a loophole in it and ensure that justice is done. He’s managed to survive and thrive even under the difficult economic conditions and times America is going through. But, can he survive a case that’s brought to him by his girlfriend (Nora), whose friend’s (Amy Kelly’s) mother has been scammed out of millions of dollars, and was possibly murdered by the same man? The stunning, suspenseful, and page-turning debut novel, Cry For Justice, by Ralph Zeta will keep you reading until late into the night, and you won’t want to put it down.

Life is pretty sweet for Jason Justice. He drives a Porsche, dates hot women, and lives in a yacht he bought from his father’s estate after his father died of cancer. He still owes money on the yacht, but it is well worth it to him to have kept it in the family, and he has plans to travel with Nora on it to the Bahamas. Nora was one of his father’s attending physicians two years before.

Gun-shy in part because of his own parents’ miserable marriage, and in part from what he’s seen as a divorce lawyer, Justice is very jaded about marriage, and feels that most marriages are travesties. He and Nora have lasted longer together as a couple than anyone else Jason’s dated, and they have an agreement not to talk about marriage that both have held to and have seemed satisfied with.

Inmate 1577 by Alan Jacobson

Inmate 1577 Reviewed by Russell Ilg

Alan Jacobson’s latest thriller, Inmate 1577, is by far his greatest work to date—and that’s quite a statement since Jacobson’s novels have been one of the best kept secrets in publishing for nearly a dozen years. It’s clear that Jacobson has hit his stride and that Inmate 1577 elevates him to a new level, but there’s something about Inmate 1577 that sets it apart. The question was, What?

Inmate 1577, which brings us another helping of the irresistible (and irascible) FBI Profiler Karen Vail, is told in two tracks, one taking place in the 1950s and 1960s, and the other in present-day San Francisco—and they alternate. Switching back and forth between time periods is hard to pull off, but Jacobson somehow makes it work to great effect. The first story deals with the downward spiral a man’s life takes when his wife is murdered and he is arrested for the crime. He’s found not guilty, but he’s become such a pariah that he can’t get a job. With a young son to support, he turns to bank robbery, a decision that proves catastrophic. The present-day story takes place in San Francisco, as elderly men and women are murdered in different parts of the city. FBI Profiler Karen Vail is sent to assist the SFPD, and ultimately, this storyline lands on the infamous island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz, and merges with the storyline from the past.

I’ve always believed that the research authors put into their books can be important, but the detail in Inmate 1577 goes above and beyond, making the story that much richer and believable; in a way it almost reads like nonfiction because you truly believe you’re watching history unfold before you. And in a sense, that is what’s happening. Jacobson cleverly brings together a real event that occurred on Alcatraz back in 1961-2 and inserts his character into the action—all while remaining true to the facts of the actual event.

Beauty Has Her Way…Edited by Jennifer Brozek

Beauty Has Her WayReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

“They’re b-b-b-bad, bad to the bone,” to paraphrase George Thorogood. Who are? The beautiful but deadly femme fatales who populate the short stories of Beauty Has Her Way…, an engrossing anthology edited by Jennifer Brozek. Split up into three sections, “Yesterday,” “Today,” and “Tomorrow,” the collection features stories by some of today’s best fiction/fantasy/SF authors. Some of the women have been pushed to their very limits. Some of them just try to do whatever it takes to survive. Some are seduced by dreams of power. Some of them are Queen Bitches. Most are after revenge of one sort or another for having been wronged–and they get it, in spades. This is not a heroine’s book, so much as it is an anti-heroine book, but it’s impossible not to identify with and root for the women in these remarkable stories.

I’ll touch briefly on a couple of the short stories form each of the three sections, just to give you an idea about what sort of tales you’ll find in this anthology. All of the short stories are great, and I apologize ahead of time to any of the authors who I can’t get to in this review. “Yesterday,” has five short stories in it, of the fantasy and historical fantasy genre. “Today,” deals with six tales of modern day urban fantasy, and “Tomorrow,” contains six science fiction or apocalyptic fantasy stories.

The two short stories I’ll mention in “Yesterday,” are Sacrifices to the Moon by Paul D. Batteiger and Dunkle Froline by Ramsey Lundock. Batteiger’s Sacrifices to the Moon is a Robert E. Howard influenced Sword & Sorcery type of tale, reminiscent of Howard’s Conan and Red Sonja novels. I’m a major Robert E. Howard fan, so I really liked reading this story about a city which seems helpless to defend itself against an ages-old curse and monsters (the Children of the Ku) which come out of the river to devour its residents, and a barbarian warrior woman, Sheol, who defends the city and eventually becomes it’s queen.

Dunkle Froline by Ramsey Lundock is either an alternate universe type of historical fantasy short story, or if it’s set in ours, it follows an alternate timeline, like the novels of Turtledove. Humans are kept as slaves by the and are forced to fight and live in the slave pits, subterranean and away from the sun light. The dunkle volks are either magic-wielding alien or fantasy being sorts of overlords that rule over humanity’s remnants. How they came to power is not mentioned in the story, but that is probably not very important, as the tale focuses on the plight of one human in particular, known as Tessa.

All the Pretty Hearses: A Bed and Breakfast Mystery by Mary Daheim

All the Pretty HearsesReviewed by Elizabeth Sheehan

This is the first book I’ve read by Mary Daheim, which I understand is one of a series. The main characters are Judith McMonigle, who with her husband Joe are the owners of a Bread and Breakfast which they also run.

Her husband, a retired police officer, has been hired by an insurance company to follow a suspect that may not have the injuries claimed. Unfortunately the suspect is found shot.

Enter a slew of many characters who are not very likeable. Each one is weirder than the next one and the story becomes extremely unreal. Joe is arrested for murder, guests are climbing out a second story window, and a dog is sleeping in the bathtub and so forth and so on.

Lethal by Sandra Brown

LethalReviewed by Nancy Eaton

Honor Gillette’s four-year-old daughter informs her that a sick man is in lying in their front yard. When Honor looks out the window and sees the man, she runs out to help him. When she saw his face, she was shocked. She recognized him as Lee Coburn, the man who is accused of killing seven people the night before. Coburn has a gun and promises he will not hurt Honor or her daughter if they do as they are told.

Honor’s late husband Eddie, who was a police officer, died in an accident. Coburn told Honor that Eddie had something valuable and he needed to find it. He proceeded to tell her that she and her daughter are in a great deal of danger if what he is looking for falls into the hands of The Bookkeeper, a well-known crime boss. What is this item Coburn is hoping to find? Honor has no idea as to what Eddie could have been hiding. Coburn searches the house but could not find what he is looking for. He also wants to clear his name.

As time goes on, more and more bodies start to show up and Honor does not know who to trust. Is Coburn really the bad guy? Was her husband doing something wrong? Can she trust her father-in-law or is he also involved in something dirty?

Here Comes Trouble by Michael Moore

Here Comes TroubleReviewed by Nancy Eaton

When I started to read Here Comes Trouble, I did not know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised!

Here Comes Trouble is sort of a memoir about Michael Moore’s early life up to his thirties. Why do I say “sort of a memoir”? Michael Moore makes this statement in the foreword of the book. “This is a book of short stories based on events that took place in the early years of my life. Many of the names and circumstances have been changed to protect the innocent, and sometimes the guilty”. The book consists of several short stories about things that have happened to him during these years. Some of them will make you laugh and others will bring tears to your eyes.

I don’t want to go into detail about the stories because it would spoil it for others who read this book. I will tell you that some of my favorites from the book are: A Blessing, Getaway Car and A Public Education.

The Good, The Bad and The Murderous by Chester D. Campbell

The Good, The Bad and The MurderousReviewed by Patricia Reid

At the request of Jaz LeMieux, private investigator Sid Chance agrees to help Djuan Burden, who is accused of murder. Djuan’s grandmother is a long time friend of Jaz’s live-in housekeeper, Marie Wallace. Djuan has only been out of jail for about six months and now he is back in jail on a murder charge. His grandmother is convinced that he is innocent and Jaz wants to do everything she can to help a friend of Marie’s.

Jaz is an ex-cop and wealthy business owner but enjoys being a sidekick on Sid’s investigations. When the two visit Djuan’s grandmother, they discover that Djuan went to a small medical equipment store in Nashville’s Green Hills section. The purpose of his visit was to complain about charges on his grandmother’s Medicare account. Djuan’s grandmother, Rachel Ransom, had not paid a lot of attention to the many notices she received from Medicare but when Djuan saw that she had been charged for items such as a power wheelchair he decided to complain. Rachel has never owned a wheel chair and has no need of one. When Djuan went to the equipment store to complain, he found a dead man behind the desk. Frightened that he would be accused of murder because of his prison history, he ran. A witness spotted Djuan leaving the scene of the crime and the police immediately charged him with murder. A crooked cop who had no qualms about planting evidence didn’t help Djuan’s case one bit.

Besides trying to assist Sid in the murder investigation Jaz was also dealing with a problem of her own. Jaz’ company has been accused of racial discrimination. There was no basis for the accusation, but the fact that it had been made brought about a lot of bad publicity for Jaz and her company.

Nowhere to Run by C.J.Box

Nowhere to RunReviewed by Allen Hott

Wyoming forest Ranger Joe Pickett is up to his neck in problems in Nowhere to Run and those problems follow him all the way to the end of the book. C. J. Box writes about Pickett quite often and in this instance some of the happenings are somewhat based on a true story that occurred to a game warden in Wyoming.

In all of his stories Box has Pickett always in some sort of trouble with the higher-ups in his organization but though he sometimes steps a little out of bounds in fulfilling his tasks he is renowned for being able to solve problems. And Pickett has one ace up his sleeve most of the time as the governor of Wyoming really does appreciate Pickett’s work although the governor also sometimes gets up tight with his questionable maneuvering in solving problems.

Pickett has been somewhat isolated in some of the far reaches of the state and is finishing up his last week in this assignment prior to his new assignment back closer to home. Because of several odd incidents he has decided to make a last full swing through one of the highest and most desolate sections of Wyoming. One of the main reasons is that there was a woman runner who was training in the area about a year ago and she turned up missing. Just recently Pickett had been talking with a local resident who told him that there were strange goings on happening in the mountainous area. He claimed that folks were having windows of cars broken, cabins broken in, and tents getting slashed. Also just recently two hunters who had wounded an elk found that it had been butchered and the bulk of the meat stolen when they found the remains after tracking the animal.