Category Archives: Fiction

Breaking Point: A Joe Pickett Novel (Joe Pickett Novels) by C.J. Box

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Breaking PointJoe Pickett, the Colorado game warden, always gets involved in situations that are not necessarily related to game warden work. And Breaking Point is one of those situations. In this instance a local man from the Saddlestring area where Joe lives has a nasty run-in with some EPA officials who basically come to run him off his property. The man, Butch Roberson, is defiant because (a) he was given no warning and (b) there does not appear to be a real reason for this to happen. One thing leads to another. The two EPA guys are shot and Butch is on the run up into the mountains.

The EPA brings in all sorts of governmental personnel to hunt him down and Joe happens to get called into the situation because of his game warden status. Joe immediately has problems with the two top EPA officials, especially the top one, who appear to be extremely arrogant and have no consideration at all for what Joe considers to be common citizens. Joe will work that part out later.

They basically take charge and begin an intensive manhunt for Butch that involves working all through the mountains. They also set up rewards that inspire three other individuals, locals known to Joe, to get involved in the hunt. These three folks basically have no hand in the game except that the leader of the trio is intent on getting the reward and also since he used to be the sheriff he wants to reinstate himself at the decimation of the present sheriff.

Dark Sacred Night (A Ballard and Bosch Novel) by Michael Connelly

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Dark Sacred NightRenee Ballard is a hot-shot detective, working night shift (known as the late show) in the LAPD. She is very good but sometimes oversteps her boundaries and gets into a hassle or two with her supervisor.

One evening while filling out a report at her somewhat tucked away desk, she notices a guy getting into the cabinets in the storage room for detective files. She does not recognize him to be one of the detectives. She stops him and is about to question him further when a supervisor comes in and recognizes them both. He introduces Renee to Harry Bosch, a retired cop who used to work out of this office but now freelances and does some work also for San Fernando Police Department.

After the two men leave Renee goes over to see what Bosch was looking at and finds it is a drawer full of old unsolved street crimes, mostly sex crimes. On questioning one of the sergeants she learns that Bosch is still trying to solve a nine year old case of a fifteen year old streetwalker who was found sexually mutilated and dead in an alley.

High Crimes: A Georgia Davis Novel of Suspense (The Georgia Davis PI Series Book 5)

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

High CrimesAfter the 2016 election, America is a nation divided. The new president is a rash, outspoken individual who garnered support by refusing to follow normal presidential protocol. As a result, an active opposition movement is spreading across the country. It’s leader, Dena Baldwin, is scheduled to appear at a rally in Chicago. As Baldwin mounts the stage, gunshots ring out and panic ensues. An assassin has killed Baldwin. Local PI Georgia Davis is hired to try and determine the identity of the killer but it will be a daunting task. Baldwin had a large Facebook following and not all of them are genuine supporters of the Resistance movement. As Davis dives into the crime further, she begins to realize there is more to Baldwin than meets the eye.

I Know a Secret by Tess Gerritsen

Reviewed by Allen Hott

I Know a SecretQuite a story again from Tess Gerritsen! Not only are there murders but gruesome acts after these murders! Hard to believe that people could be capable of taking out a dead person’s eyes nor could they be capable of shooting arrows into a dead man’s chest!

But that is what has happened and now Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles, police detective of Boston PD and county medical examiner respectively, have quite a job! But first off the reader needs to realize that Jane’s mother is about to leave her unfaithful father after many years and also that Maura’s real mother who is locked up for many vicious crimes is bugging Maura over and over. Maura was raised by a different woman and her husband but Maura still feels something for her homicidal physical mother and has some feelings. Gerritsen brings personal events into her heroines!

The Reckoning: A Novel by John Grisham

Another very great story written I would say perfectly by the master himself. Grisham is very good at building stories, often moving back and forward in the time frame of the hero’s life, but never losing the main thread of the story. Perfect dialogue and always enough descriptive plotting to keep the reader alert and anxious for more.

 In The Reckoning the story is about a southern family and is pretty much centered on Pete Banning, the head of that family. Pete is the owner of his family’s cotton farm which has been in his family for many, many years. It all begins with Pete getting up one day and walking down to the family church where he walks in and with one bullet to the chest area kills the family minister.

Pete’s wife, Liza, had been put into a mental institution some time previously and was pretty much non-responsive to anyone or anything around her. So the only people close to Pete to rally for him in his defense were his sister, his children, and his friends. No one however could stand up to the pressure of the state’s judicial system and the feelings of the entire local residents.

 What all happens in the next portion of the book is how Pete is put on trial, convicted, and electrocuted in an electric chair that is set up in the county courthouse! Pete had done the deed for what he believed in his mind was the right thing to do.

The next part of the story actually moves backward and follows Pete’s life before all of this. He had been a very gallant soldier and not only fought hard in the Pacific in World War II but he actually had also been taken prisoner and had ended upmaking it through the famous Bataan Death March. That forced march instituted by the Japanese had killed many U.S. and Filipino soldiers.

However Pete had managed to live through the march.  Later he and another prison managed to escape from the huge prison camp that they were placed in. While hiding in the woods he was rescued by a band of guerillas who were fighting the Japanese from their various hideouts all over the Bataan woods. Pete and his buddy joined the guerillas and were eventually rescued and sent back to the states.

Pete had first been declared a prisoner and then later declared dead by the military so the folks at home had no knowledge of his escapades or that he was even alive until he returned.

 There is so much more of this great book as the Bannings have to fight to try to keep their property from the wife of the slain pastor. It becomes a real part of any Grisham as it gets very involved with the legal system and how it works for and against folks.

But then there is even more as the winding down of the story contains some very important facts that come out from the death lips of one of the Banning family.  And as they always say……And that is the rest of the story!!

The One That Got Away by Joe Clifford

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

The One That Got Away by Joe Clifford is an average novel in terms of quality. While Clifford is the author of the successful Jay Porter series, this book is not nearly as good as those. The plot is interesting enough, although not particularly original.

The story starts out with potential and will likely be intriguing enough to hook most readers. However, by the midway point, the book just ambles along and suddenly ends. While I can and do recommend that readers try out one of Clifford’s Jay Porter novels, I can’t really strongly recommend The One That Got Away. As a result, I can only justify a 2/5 star rating.*

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

Let These Bones Live Again (A Christopher Worthy/Father Fortis Mystery) (Volume 3) by David Carlson

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

Let These Bones Live AgainAllyson Worthy is a criminology student is finally checking off a major item on her bucket list: visiting the city of Venice, Italy. She’s obtained an internship with the Venice police to help catalog non-violent crimes against foreigners. However, when she gets there, her assignment changes to one of investigating some mysterious deaths. Simultaneously, family friend Father Nicholas Fortis has been asked by the Vatican to help investigate the theft of relics from Venetian churches. Neither one knows that their two separate investigations will soon collide.

House of Rose (A Magic City Story Book 1) by T.J. Thorne

Reviewed by Ed Kelly

House of RoseHouse of Rose is a genre–bending novel–part police procedural, part romance, part mystery, and part witch/magic story. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep storylines straight, but for those who like multi dimensional tales, this book fits the bill.

As the plot is complicated, the characters seem less so, except for the main character, Rose. Rose is a new graduate of the Birmingham, Alabama Police Academy, a rookie cop. She has a lonely past: she was orphaned by the violent death of her entire family, mother, father, and sister. She alone escapes the deadly fire, which we come to find out was arson. Rose was placed in an orphanage and adopted by a loving family, but it was not her family.

While she is good looking, Rose does nothing to enhance her beauty; she constantly wears jeans and tee shirts to deflect attention from herself. She’s standoffish, not social, has no friends, and has little interest in men, at least up to the present time. Rose is a definite loner. Sometimes it is difficult to appreciate Rose as she treats people roughly, because of her lack of social grace and skill.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel by Mark Sullivan

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Beneath a Scarlet SkyThis is a really great read. It is the story of a young Italian boy, Pimo Lella, who while growing up in Italy during the World War II Invasion by the Nazis lives quite a life. And one of the most interesting parts is that Pimo is a real life person and the story is his true story.

There were many Italians who were upset with the Nazi takeover of Italy and most of them fought against that takeover in their own way. The Lella family was one group that did all they could by working as a spy network and even used a radio to transmit information that was hurtful to the German army.

However perhaps their biggest achievement was raising Pimo to be one of Italy’s best spies. He started as a guide when he would help people get out of the country by taking them up into the mountains. There they were helped by a catholic priest, Father Luigi Re, who offered a sanctuary to those fleeing and helped them get into Switzerland, a neutral country. Those journeys are an interesting part of the story.

When he got to the age he was going to have to enlist in the ORG.TODT which was a branch of the German army that Italians served in. Pimo fought hard against it but was convinced by his family that it was the safest thing for him to do and that they had plans for him to help in their spy network.

Shortly after joining and getting out of boot camp he was summoned by a German general who had seen him repair the General’s automobile when the driver couldn’t do it. General Leyers immediately told Pimo that he was to report to headquarters the next morning to become his driver! Pimo’s family was thrilled because they knew with Pimo’s skills and hatred of the Germans he would be an important part of their spy network from a great spot. General Leyers was one of the highest ranking officers of the German army and actually was close to Adolf Hitler

The story than goes on and tells the true story of how Pimo works as a spy while driving the General all over that part of Europe. He is able to get lot of information back to his family about German troop movements and even some of their planned invasions of other areas.

While the war continues Pimo because of his closeness to the General not only meets Mussolini but many other high German officials. And he also meets the love of his life, Anna! Anna works as a maid for Leyer’s Italian girlfriend and Anna and Pimo within a short period of time fall in love.

There is much more to this great story and how this Italian boy who grew into a freedom fighter for the Italians lived his life. It is not all peaches and cream as there are some very sad moments in the book but it is still a great read. To the best of my knowledge Pimo is still alive at 93 and lives in Italy.

War of the Wolf: A Novel (Saxton Tales Book 11) by Bernard Cornwell

Reviewed by Teri Davis

War of the WolfHow could anyone teach about life in the late 900s or early 1000 A.D.? The time of Saxons, Mercians, Danes all battling over land that would become England. Along side the land issue is the decision of religion. Christianity is being followed by most of the inhabitants while the many of the Danes hold on to their beliefs and loyalties to the Norse Gods. Naturally, among each side are inner battles of ambitious rulers fighting and acquiring loyalties for power and possessions.

War of the Wolf is the eleventh book in Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon series explaining how England became a single country. All of these books feature Uhtred, who in my mind resembles one of the larger fighting men in Game of Thrones with numerous scars and battle wounds from constant altercations.

War of the Wolf is seen through the eyes of Uhtred, now an older and wiser man. In the first book, I viewed him with distaste as his taste of fighting seemed impulsive. Throughout the series, Uhtred grows more interlining from his experiences and challenges so that now he thinks, plots, and attempts to outwit his enemy. Now, it is easier to see Uhtred as wise and even caring and protective of his friends, allies, and family.

Uhtred now has reestablished his life in his northern family home of Bebbanburg which took many years. He is comfortable in his northern home and would rather be home than fighting. He realizes that even though home, peace is always temporary with the constant threat of the Viking invaders, the wild fighting Scots from the northern lands and the battling for power from the Mercians, now in control of England.

Uhtred is summoned to King Edward in Wessex to decide the next king whether through oldest illegitimate sons, legitimate heirs, or other lesser leaders. Uhtred has no intention of going until he discovers the problems of his son-in-law. The needs and vengeances of the family outweigh the dangers.

In War of the Wolf, Uhtred proves his leadership and acquired wisdom in this battle of kings as well as a new challenger proves a threat to him, his family, and his ancestral homeland. His skills or lack of skills in this new world of diplomacy as well as his strategic fighting abilities demonstrates that peace is never permanent. There is always a new, younger, stronger, and perhaps smarter challenger.

War of the Wolf is thoroughly enthralling as Uhtred enters of a world of constant change.

For a reader unfamiliar with this series, I would strongly recommend to read at least the first book or to watch the television series The Last Kingdom before this particular novel. Being acquainted with the characters, especially the names is extremely helpful as well as understanding the people. Personally, I enjoy how each person matures and their previous life choices affecting their life in this eleventh book.

How could anyone learn of life in the 900s and 1000 A.D. in England. Read the Saxon series by Bernard Cornwell. Bernard Cornwell is a master storyteller with this newest book in the Saxon series, War of the Wolf.