Category Archives: Crime

No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Short Stories by Lee Child

Reviewed by Allen Hott

No Middle NameThis one is not a normal book but is a collection of several novellas and then even more short stories. All of the tales do feature Jack Reacher, who has been the main character in many of Child’s works. No doubt that the title No Middle Name pertains to Jack Reacher. That always comes up in all of the stories that Child writes. Someone invariably asks his name and they cannot get over the fact that he doesn’t have a middle name. Even without a middle name Jack Reacher is a very interesting character. These stories carry that character forward as he makes his trek not only across the United States but even on occasion into Europe.

Reacher is a retired Military Police officer who has a very astute mind when it comes to looking into situations that would probably stymie the minds of most people. Wherever he goes he seems to not only run into things that happen to be at least a bit illegal or scary but then he always seems to also solve the problems or assist in solving them.

Camino Island: A Novel by John Grisham

Camino IslandReviewed by Allen HottCamino Island is a very interesting story by one of the top story tellers of the day. John Grisham writes about law in some fashion or another but the real fashion of his writing is just plain good writing. He gets your interest and keeps it throughout by using great description, good dialogue, and little if any sex or profanity.

Five bad guys steal some priceless original F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from Princeton University. The originals are worth many, many big bucks and these five not only carry off the crime but know who and where to put the manuscripts to keep them safe for a period but also to make their value go even higher.

However they, like most criminals, are not perfect and make several big mistakes which cause them big problems. But they have done the job well enough that no one knows where the papers are so that is in their favor.

This is a Bust by Ed Lin

Reviewed by Mark Moderson

This is a BustA mystery wrapped around a character’s internal struggle to do better for himself.

Robert Chow is the main character in the Ed Lin novel titled This Is a Bust. Chow is a tormented soul similar to Connelly’s Harry Bosch. He is a beat cop who because of his ethnicity is pigeon holed into a role as a glorified public relations officer.

The novel does a good job introducing us to the character who is battling the internal demons of alcoholism and Vietnam. While the novel falls into the mystery genre it is more about Chow’s relationships and his battle with his demons, and the author does a good job highlighting those.

Watching the Dark: An Inspector Banks Novel by Peter Robinson (Review #2)

Reviewed by Mark Moderson

Watching the DarkI was excited to find a new mystery writer to read, and based on some reviews was excited to read this book. Unfortunately this book was not what I expected. It was an extremely slow and hard read that could not hold my interest. I have read thousands of books and this was the longest it ever took to complete the book.

The novel starts out intriguing with a police officer being murdered. Unfortunately the author then spends more time focusing on describing small, inconsequential details of each scene then he does working on the main mystery of the novel. The novel itself is also convoluted because there are multiple different characters following multiple different story lines.

Unsub: A Novel by Meg Gardiner

Reviewed by Allen Hott

UnsubThis is a very interesting, almost nerve-racking, story about a young female detective as she tries to learn about, find, and corral a demented man.
The man called the Unsub has returned to the San Francisco Bay area after a hiatus of 20 some years. On his first appearance he had terrorized the Bay area with his cryptic messages and killings. He also basically ruined a police officer both physically and mentally. This new young female detective, Caitlin Hendrix, is the daughter of that retired and fairly disabled police officer, Mack Hendrix.

Caitlyn basically grew up in a broken home as her mother was unable to cope with Mack’s mental condition after his encounter with the Unsub also known as the Prophet. Caitlyn however decided she wanted to be a police officer and worked her way onto the county’s Narcotics Force. One night while she was at home with her ATF policeman/boyfriend she got a call to report at once to a crime scene.

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.*

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.

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.

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.

She Rides Shotgun: A Novel by Jordan Harper (Review #2)

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

She Rides ShotgunFrom the first sentence in Jordan Harper’s thrilling fiction debut, She Rides Shotgun, you find yourself a willing captive held fast by his audaciously gritty narrative which centers on the corrupted coming of age of young Polly McClusky, an innocent, thrust into the seamy side of life where criminal elements heartily dwell.

The day estranged dad and convict, Nate McClusky reappeared in eleven-year-old daughter Polly’s life, and it was effectively forever changed. Fresh out of jail, Nate didn’t bring candy and gifts like other fathers might do to make up for lost time; instead, he brought trouble, danger and visceral violence hot on his heels.

As a criminal for most of his life, Nate was no stranger to difficult predicaments, especially when he finds himself just before his release out of jail, faced with an irrefusable demand to work for a violent and widely powerful white supremacist organization, Aryan Steel. But, when Nate refuses with a shiv to the neck of the brother of the leader of Aryan Steel, he consequently finds himself, his ex and young daughter on a hit list. Compelled into an intense race against time and the treacherous, as well as forced to use any means necessary to ensure his and daughter Polly’s survival, he instructs his daughter in life lessons that no young girl should ever have to experience. Additionally, to further complicate matters, father and daughter are basically strangers and polar opposites causing personality clashes and breathtaking moments as the two have to learn to accept each other for the sake of their own survival.