Category Archives: Fiction

No Man’s Land (John Puller Series) by David Baldacci

Reviewed by Allen Hott

No Man's LandMr. Baldacci has brought John Puller back and really tangled him up in a super woven story. Puller, and Army Special Agent and son of a retired three
Star general, is involved in finding out whom or what caused the disappearance of his mother some thirty years ago.

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His father, now suffering from dementia, is fading fast and Puller takes some time off from his military career to track down the clues in the old mystery.

It started because a former friend of the family sent the father a letter basically accusing him of doing the dirty deed to his wife. Puller doesn’t believe it and sets out to find the truth.

Pretty Little Girls: A Novel by Karin Slaughter (Review #3)

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

Pretty Little GirlsTwenty years ago a beloved, young woman disappeared without a trace, tearing her family apart. Julia Carroll’s vanishing has never been solved and after her father, Sam, tries in vain to find her he commits suicide. Her mother, Helen keeps her bedroom exactly how she left it in hopes that she will return home. Her two sisters, Lydia Delgado and Claire Scott, grieve in different ways and eventually become estranged from each other. Lydia turns into a drug addict, although she is clean now, and Claire is put on parole after physically harming a friend.

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The recent disappearance of another young girl brings up memories of their sister. Then tragedy strikes the family again. Claire’s wealthy husband, Paul, is brutally murdered after they celebrate the ending of her parole and removal of her ankle bracelet. She is devastated and tries to put her life back together after the unexpected death of her husband.

While using Paul’s computer to find some files for his work partner, she stumbles across some photos and videos. Photos and videos he has kept a secret from her. She finds very graphic and shocking pornography on his computer. She had no idea that he looked at this sort of thing. As she studies them closer, she believes that the girl in one of the videos is the missing girl. She takes the hard drive to the cop investigating her husband’s murder. He tells her it’s fake, but she has her doubts.

She soon discovers more horrific videos and pictures with Paul in them and sets out to discover why he has kept them. During this time she reconnects with her sister Lydia, and they begin to sift through the layers of everything that the fastidious Paul kept hidden for many years. Evidence is uncovered that could help solve the recent vanishing of the young girl and also lead to discovering what happened to Julia. What other horrifying things will the sisters learn about Paul Scott?

Karin Slaughter writes an excellent novel with lots of surprises and more twists and turns than a curvy road. She grips the reader with a great mystery and keeps them wanting to read more. I caution anyone who does not like to read explicit violence as some of the scenes are very graphic, but the book is definitely worth delving into.

The Burial Hour (A Lincoln Rhyme Novel) by Jeffery Deaver

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Burial HourGreat start to another good Lincoln Rhyme story. This time a young girl sees a man grab a man and put him in the trunk of a car. And while doing so the culprit leaves a mini-noose on the ground. The little girl gives it to her mom and the story begins!

Lincoln and Amelia Sachs, his investigating assistant and about to be wife, get dragged into the case right when they are planning on taking a trip to Europe or somewhere to get married! However with Thom, the great assistant-do-everything-guy will be along wherever they go since Lincoln is a paraplegic pretty much confined to a wheelchair.

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First off they have to find not only the culprit but the guy who was kidnapped. Turns out the victim is all trussed up with a specific type noose that is hooked up to a bucket of water. As more water fills the bucket the noose get tighter and tighter. Can they get to him in time?

But this is only the beginning because next that same culprit turns up in Italy and pulls the same type of stunt. Clever, eh what? At least Deaver didn’t have him turn up in India or somewhere that Lincoln and Sachs would have to go and mess up their wedding plans.

However as the story progresses the reader finds out much about this particular criminal. Also the reader finds out especially about his phenomenal ability to hear sounds and particularly musical sounds at least to him. Quickly he is dubbed the Composer and he is becoming a world-wide entity since he posts videos on something like YouTube to show off his victims.

These mysterious kidnappings also somehow seem to get involved with refugees. Italy like many other countries is so overwhelmed with them that one of their politicians says it is The Burial Hour since there are so many of these refugees that they will eventually bury all the true citizens of the country or countries.

The Surgeon’s Wife by William H. Coles

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

The Surgeon's WifeThe Surgeon’s Wife is split into three parts. Vivid illustrations on the book cover and also preceding the text for each part perfectly complement this engaging story. The book is told from multiple viewpoints which provides valuable insight into the feelings, perceptions, and motives of each of the pertinent characters in the story, and how they are affected by the circumstances in which they find themselves.

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Mike Boudreaux is the chief of surgery at a prominent hospital in New Orleans, and he is called upon to make tough decisions about his partner, Clayton Otherson, who is making life-threatening mistakes in surgery. Mike owes the success of his career to Clayton and wants to help his colleague and friend, a distinguished and influential bariatric surgeon, avoid suspension by the hospital operating room committee. Mike can impact decisions made by the committee since he is the chair, and Clayton believes that Mike should make any complaints about his competency as a surgeon go away. However, the safety of patients is Mike’s top priority. When the committee puts some restrictions in place that affect Clayton in his surgeries of obese patients, this action puts up barriers in Mike and Clayton’s friendship.

Live by Night: A Novel by Dennis Lehane (Review #2)

Reviewed by Laurie Weatherlow

LIve by NightLive by Night by Dennis Lehane is a 2012 William Morrow publication.

At the age of thirteen Joe Coughlin began his ascension of the organized crime ladder. He was born the third son of Thomas Coughlin, a well-respected Boston police captain. Joe’s life of crime began by knocking off paper stands with the Bartolo brothers.

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At the age of twenty, Joe met Emma Gould during the robbery of a speakeasy owned by Albert White. Joe’s boss Tom Hickey and White were heated rivals in the bootlegging business. This was the turning point to Joe’s intensification into the gangster world. A world that was fueled by prohibition and the underworld of bootlegging. Joe was an excellent business man with a compassion seldom seen in a gangster. During this time, criminal gangs were rampant and ethnic prejudices ran high. Rumrunning prospered from the streets of Boston, Massachusetts, crawling with Irish and Italians, to the backwaters of Ybor City and Tampa Florida, with Cubans and Latino’s. Joe’s bootlegging and cigar businesses of Ybor became his life. But the mob bosses make the decisions and give the orders of how you live and if you survive.

Most Dangerous Place: A Jack Swyteck Novel by James Grippando

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Most Dangerous PlaceFrom a fairly simple easy beginning this one grows into a tremendous legal battle and finger pointing plus repetitive denials.

Jack Swytek, the legal whiz, is picking up his friend Keith Ingraham at the Miami airport. Along with Keith making the flight from Hong Kong is Isa Bornelli (his wife) and their young daughter. The daughter is the reason for the return as she has some very difficult surgery to be performed which is to help her recapture some amount of hearing since she was born with none.

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However right from the get-go the story line switches from the daughter to the mother as two police officers stop the group as they are leaving the terminal. They place Isa under arrest for the murder of Gabriel Sosa. This murder had taken place many years ago when Isa was in college but even when it had first worked its way up into the Judicial system Isa was never in the States. She lived with Keith who worked as a high powered banker in Hong Kong but they traveled all over the world with his job. So Isa had never been back to the states for any period of time. This time however the Miami-Dade Police Department knew of her arrival (don’t you wonder how??) and they put her into custody.

Legacy: Book Three of the Fire Chronicles by Susi Wright

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

LegacyThis Young Adult fiction is the 3rd in the Fire Chronicle series. It is very good and thoughtful uplifting even when presenting unsurmountable evil and odds.

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In a fantasy world where races of creatures, usually humanoid, are often fighting each other, order has come to much of civilization. The Alliance was formed in fire with a great battle where Lord Luminor was injured deeply. He leads this group of people beneficently with powers that have been unmatched until now.

There is danger now, a new and fearful evil has begun to invade the Morvians. These people live beyond the Impossible Mountains. Although, this does not affect his domain, Luminor must defend these people from the encroaching menace. He forms his army, the greatest so far, combining many groups into a single fighting force. He heads North leaving hearth and home behind protected by a regent and wise Elders to protect his domain and his family.

This leaves Espira, Essie familiarly, and Ardientor sitting at home and worrying about their father. As hybrids, combining human and Gaian ancestry, they are the first and possibly the only salvation of the domain, but they must overcome sibling rivalry and a confining spell placed by their father. When all seems lost, they find the way, Espira especially, to reconcile the personalities and the powers, first to summon assistance from the Ancient Realm and then to lend its use to the army across the Impossible Mountains.

Tightening the Threads (A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery) by Lea Wait

Reviewed by Teri Davis

A true friend is there when you need them.

Tightening the ThreadsSarah Byrne is in a situation where she needs the friendship of Angie Curtis. The two have discovered their mutual love of antiques and needlepoint.

Sarah recently found her real heritage. Since a single-mother in Australia raised her, she valued her short time with her. When her mother died, she moved in with her grandmother in England. It was wonderful for her to be in a loving relationship again. Fortunately, her grandmother also shared the information leading her to her silent father in Maine. This was the first time his identity was revealed to her. Her plan was to again move to another continent to meet her father. Unfortunately, he died just months earlier.

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Sarah discovered a love for her new home, Haven Harbor, Maine and decided to open her antique business in her new home, the home of her father. How does anyone inform the surviving members that she is also part of the family?

Finding her uncle without revealing her true identity was difficult, but Ted Lawrence quickly figured out her true identity. Ted wisely insisted on a DNA test as proof for the rest of his family. This wasn’t for either Ted or Sarah but the expected disbelief and doubt from Ted’s children.

Ted has cancer and knows that he does not have long to live. He has called his children together. Ted plans a family reunion including each of his three children’s families. His hope is to mend fences, reveal then new relative and to discuss his intended changes to the will. His expectations quickly become an impossible task.

Ted’s father, Robert Lawrence had been an outstanding artist. Teaching many of the techniques to Ted as he grew. Ted is now a reputable artist but will never be the legend of his father.

Sarah is apprehensive about meeting Ted’s three grown children. She knows that the do not get along and their lives take them in varying directions. For support, her friend Angie agrees to go along and assist in any way she can. So how would you react to a new will that is now going to include a new cousin? Apparently, this means that each of them will now receive less inheritance.

Surprisingly Ted dies from possibly eating a bad clam. Did one of his children purposely give him a clam from a restricted area? Did Ted complete the new will? What will happen to the paintings he gave to Sarah?

Lea Wait writes from what she knows. She lives on the Maine coast and is a fourth generation antiques dealer, much like her characters. Her mystery series, Shadows Antique Print have been nominated for the Agatha awards.

Rain Gods: A Novel (A Holland Family Novel) by James Lee Burke

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Rain GodsI suppose Mr. Burke has left New Orleans to write about a happening in Texas. Usually he is in Louisiana but no matter because wherever he sits up a story it all works out! And Rain Gods is proof of that.

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Hackberry Holland, a Texas sheriff, responds to a 911 call and finds a mass grave. Upon digging into the spot he discovers nine women who have been shot to death by what appears to be a machine gun. Closer examination later by the coroner shows that they each were carrying a plastic bag of drugs in their stomach. The 911 call happened to come from a former GI who heard the shooting and went too late to the scene. He and his girlfriend then decided to head out because of what they feared would happen next.

The Cold Moon by Jeffery Deaver

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Cold MoonMr. Deaver has put a full load into the works this time for Lincoln Rhyme. Rhyme is the paralyzed former New York Police officer now working as a homebound investigator for the NYPD. He works with his female aide, Amelia Sachs, who is still employed by the NYPD and several other aides. Most of their work is centered around Rhyme’s meticulous and very observant style. He uses those assets from his wheelchair while the others patrol the various crime scenes and feed him info as they probe.

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This time he is locked in with the Watchmaker, a very sharp bad guy, who is also deeply into clocks and watches. These he uses in his crimes and usually leaves one of some sort at the scene of the crime.

In the beginning the Watchmaker and his accomplice are targeting a group of people who have a strange sort of relationship. He appears to be killing them, and then after leaving various clues moves on to the next. With the help of Sachs, other investigators, and Kathryn Dance they are able to solve the first Watchmaker case or so they think.