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Miguel Traveler

Miguel Traveler: The Man from Texas by Daniel McFatter

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Murder, She Wrote: A Date with Murder by Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain and Jon Land

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The Trinity Knot: Releasing the Knot of Silence by DonnaLee Overly

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Bound by My Choices: How a Death Nearly Broke Me But the Navy Saved Me by Keshawn A. Spence

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Campanile: A Novel by Peter Melaragno

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Broken Chord: A Music Row Mystery by Alice A. Jackson

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Shortcut (The Cut Series Book 2) by Arnold Eslava-Grunwaldt

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Monthly Archives: August 2017

The Force: A Novel by Don Winslow (Review #2)

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

The ForceThe Force,” by Don Winslow, introduces the reader to Denny Malone, a highly-decorated detective with the NYPD and lead detective of “The Force.” Winslow has created a vision of the world of law enforcement in the same way Puzo created a vision of the world of the Italian mob with “The Godfather.” “The Force” is the story of a detective who, while at the top of his game, made a few bad choices. Before long, Malone finds himself in a hole that he can’t get out of and he is forced to make a heart-wrenching choice. I have read hundreds of crime novels in my life and this one is by far one of the most realistic, keeping me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

Don Winslow is an accomplished author, having been nominated for such awards as
the Barry and Dily’s and winning the 2000 Shamus Award for Best Novel and the 2016 Steel Dagger. In 2012, Winslow won the Raymond Chandler Award, Italy’s top
Lifetime Achievement Award. Few authors have such an outstanding resume and
Winslow really shines with “The Force.” This novel deserves 5/5 stars.

*A copy of this book was the only compensation received for this review.*

Brooklyn Wars (Erica Donato Mysteries) by Triss Stein

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair
Brooklyn Wars
Erica Donato is student a mother and has a full time job working as a historian. Often it is her job which leads her to research interesting places or things in her Brooklyn neighborhood, but in Brooklyn Wars, it is writing her thesis which has Erica prowling around the old Naval Yards. And once again, her research lands her smack in the middle of a crime.

After attending a public hearing on a redevelopment plan for the former shipbuilding site, Erica decides to walk over to the part in question and look around. It is dark, deserted and frankly a bit spooky. Readers may quibble with whether it was a smart move on her part to walk down that path, but she did and that is where the story begins. While she stands looking at one of the old row houses, she hears a noise, catches a glimpse of someone running and finds a man critically injured. Erica immediately recognizes the man from the meeting she just left. The man dies and the police understandably want to talk with Erica, but they are not the only ones. Before long, what started as research for a chapter in her dissertation has morphed into a murder investigation and Erica immersed in the past life of the victim.

Without Fear or Favor: A Novel (A Butch Karp-Marlene Ciampi Thriller Book 29) by Robert K. Tanenbaum

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Without Fear or FavorThe black community vs. the police is not a new idea in today’s social environment.

Tony Cippio is an ideal New York Police Officer who attempts to create positive relationships between the community and law enforcement. This white policeman enjoys playing basketball with neighborhood teens.

Tyrone Greene is a thirteen-year-old with basketball skills that surpass the officer’s successful high school and community college recognition. Tony sees the possibilities for this talented youngster with dreams of playing professional ball. Considering how well Tyrone could play with an old over-inflated ball, the teen was thrilled with the gift of a new ball.

The Quiet Child: A Novel by John Burley

Reviewed by Vickie Dailey

The Quiet ChildThis is most likely the hardest review I’ve ever done. The story has elements of mystery yet a thriller like atmosphere to what appears to be a quiet town. The story starts out normal enough – a 1950’s family with Dad Michael, Mom Kate and their two sons Sean and Danny. You soon learn that Kate is ill and son Danny has never spoken a word. On a seemingly innocent trip to the store for ice cream (no spoilers) their happy (or not) family is torn apart.

Without Mercy: A Body Farm Novel by Jefferson Bass

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

Without MercyDr. Brockton is called to a murder scene that shocks him like no other one ever has: a body found in a rural Tennessee county, chained to a tree and badly mutilated. There are clues that would lead one to believe this murder to be a hate crime but the anthropological evidence says otherwise. As Brockton works with the local and state authorities to try and solve the case, he receives some unsettling news: Nick Satterfield, a savage serial killer with a grudge against Brockton, has escaped from federal prison and appears to be on a quest for revenge against him. As the investigation progresses, Brockton begins to wonder if the murder case he’s working on is the work of Satterfield and realizes he must find a way to both solve the case and protect his family.

Golden Prey (Lucas Davenport Mysteries) by John Sandford

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Golden PreyLucas Davenport, the former officer of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is now a U.S. Marshal. This all came about because of his great work helping the former governor of Minnesota who is now a presidential candidate. For Lucas it is a great career move because he is not only a loner but thanks to a few breaks early on he is also quite wealthy and really doesn’t need to work. But he loves law enforcement and lives for catching the really bad guys.

The Falcon at the Portal: An Amelia Peabody Mystery by Elizabeth Peters

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The Falcon at the PortalBecause Joan Hess was contracted to finish a manuscript left upon Elizabeth Peters’ death, some of the earlier books are being released. The Falcon at the Portal is the eleventh book in the series and just past the midpoint of the books completed by Peters. For faithful readers, it is a good book to reread to sort of jump back in with the extended Peabody clan. That said, of all the books in the series, it happens to be the one I enjoyed the least.

The Force: A Novel by Don Winslow

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The ForceDenny Malone is a hero in many people’s eyes. He and his crew tagged “the force” have made one of the biggest heroin busts in the history of the NYPD. Malone and his crew’s rise to stardom was fast in coming. His elite unit was given pretty much free reign to do whatever it took to keep Manhattan North safe for the good people living and working in the area. But time and again, history has shown unchecked power leads to abuse. So while many herald Malone as invincible and untouchable, rumors start to surface, because not only does unlimited power lead to corruption, it also leads to jealousy and bad blood. Winslow’s The Force is the story of Malone and his crew’s fall from grace.

Corn, Cotton and Chocolate: How the Maya Changed the World by James O’Kon PE

Reviewed by Ray Palen

Corn, Cotton and ChocolateNo civilization in the history of our planet existed longer than the ancient Mayans. The historic period that they were at the forefront of lasted for 3500 years. This is an unheard of figure and, arguably, one which will never be beat. This civilization reigned from roughly 2500 B.C. to 900 A.D. However, most of what they achieved went all but unnoticed. There was no written or oral news to traverse the globe to describe their exploits and the impact they had on the planet and the rest of mankind. In essence, they were the ‘phantoms of history’.

CORN, COTTON AND CHOCOLATE: HOW THE MAYA CHANGED THE WORLD looks like a textbook, something you might have to purchase for your Social Studies class. It could also be a highly quoted text to aid in your term paper or thesis research. Sounds like some pretty dry stuff, huh? I am happy to say that in the hands of author James O’Kon, this eye-opening work was never short on surprises and could gladly hold the interest of any intelligent person seeking to learn more about perhaps the most influential civilization of all-time.

Rather than a straight chapter by chapter review I thought I would make things more interesting.

10 Things The World Can Thank The Mayans For

1. The Mayans were Cosmic Philosophers. They always considered themselves sky watchers and this need to understand the universe above and around us made them the earliest known astronomers. They were able to gain an uncanny knowledge of the harmonious composition of the cosmos. Yes, well before Carl Sagan!

2. They were the greatest agronomists in word history. They made famous the term cultivar. Not just an assemblage of plants or flowers but a natural process honed through careful cultivation. They can thank Columbus for spreading the word around his global journeys about the original ‘flower power’ people.

3. The invention of the number zero. This is nothing to laugh at (no pun intended). Mathematicians have proclaimed that one of the singular accomplishments of the human era, and the greatest intellectual feat of the Maya, was the number zero. This was a culture that was so introspective and intelligent that they were actually able to grasp the concept of something having no value — but still making it the starting point for numerical sequences!

4. Maize. Long thought to be a Native American find, Maize or as we more commonly refer to it — corn — was brought about due to sophisticated cultivation of high yielding grain. Some have called it the Maya’s greatest invention. They were eons ahead of the trend of genetic manipulation in creating food products — particularly, one in which people today cannot go to the movies without enjoying the ‘hot air-popped’ version of Maize.

5. The avocado. The fruit botanically known as Persea americana has grown in popularity in recent years due to its’ health benefits. This tropical delight is the central ingredient in the beloved Guacamole Dip. The Mayans cultivated Avocado trees whose origins may stretch back to the Cenozoic Era.

6. The Cassava and how it changed the way the world is fed. Cassava root was also mass cultivated by the Mayans and the ‘bread of the tropics’ took off in many different cultures throughout the world. This great source of carbohydrates stands behind only sugarcane and sugar beets in that category.

7. Bubble Gum. O’Kon talks about the mass-produced sticks of hard gum that used to accompany every package of baseball cards (long before collectors scoffed at the practice as lowering their value). We can thank the Mayans who took Chicle or the sap of the sapodilla tree and turned it into a substance to be chewed and enjoyed. Not sure if they actually blew bubbles with it or not…

8. Chocolate/Cocoa. Many of us, particularly the ladies, have a very personal relationship with chocolate. Can you imagine Valentine’s Day or Easter without it? It was the Mayans love affair with chocolate and cocoa in general, four millennia ago, that made this the treat of choice. Yes, they even made a warm, frothy beverage from it!

9. Cotton. This has long been attributed to the great cotton plantations of the southern United States. However, it was once again the expert cultivation of the wild cotton plant that turned this into the world’s most valuable and productive vegetable fiber. It also makes for some really smooth and breathable fabric for clothing.

10. Tobacco. Cigarette and cigar smoking, along with the second-hand smoke they produce, may be taboo in recent years due to the adverse health conditions they can cause. That being said, it is impossible to not recognize how every civilization has been touched by tobacco — from Native American peace pipes to the Marlboro Man. Again, the Mayans cultivation of Nicotiana paved the way for a vice that has been enjoyed by every civilization that followed them.

This just scratches the surface on all the terrific research James O’Kon applied to this text. A fun and interesting read. More importantly, you can feel O’Kon’s enthusiasm for the subject in every paragraph and that also elevates it far above your average textbook.

Fallen: A Novel (Will Trent) by Karin Slaughter

Reviewed by Allen Hott

FallenThis is a slightly older book (2011) but somehow I missed it. And now that I have read it I would like others to take the opportunity. Karin Slaughter can write and she really does in Fallen. It is quite a story about Faith Mitchell and her partner Will Trent. Slaughter has written several books about these two Georgia Bureau of Investigation police officers but this one really gets deep into their private lives. In doing so the reader gets to see how being a cop can often get a person’s private life mixed in with their daily jobs. Very interesting tale that keeps a reader’s interest all the way to the end even though there many, many, characters and many, many happenings.