Category Archives: Fiction

Augie’s War by John H. Brown

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Pretty interesting story about Augie Compton who though he is in Vietnam seems to spend a lot of “thinking” time about his life back in Riverview, West Virginia. As the days and weeks go by away from home he continues to go back in his mind to his very close Italian family and his adventures growing up while working part time in his grandfather’s bakery. Those “lookbacks” do a lot for developing this story and keep it moving. Anyone who has spent time not only in the military but also out of the United States while in the service knows how often the reminiscing goes on in the mind.

Augie lucked out in many ways when after graduating from college with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature. First off he was quickly drafted into the Army. Because of his background, however, after basic training he was assigned to Advanced Individual Training. On completion he attained the rank of quartermaster. He had hopes of going to Germany or someplace like that but as he feared he got assigned to Vietnam. Along the way to make matters worse two of his former friends who were already over in Nam were killed and this really made his thoughts grow even darker.

A Textbook Case (a Lincoln Rhyme story) by Jeffery Deaver

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A Textbook CaseA very interesting short story by Jeffery Deaver featuring his favorite detective, Lincoln Rhyme. As usual Rhyme, the quadriplegic former cop who still works “off the books” for the NYPD, is helped out by his assistant/girlfriend, Amelia Sachs, and a bunch of runners or helpers from the department.

This one involves a bad person who uses fire as his method of killing and each fire is set up by some type of explosion. The first one involved the finding of a young woman who had been found in the underground garage of an apartment building. When Sachs and other officers go down into the garage they are completely astounded by the piles and piles of all types of garbage. Broken light bulbs, bags of trash, cardboard boxes that are stamped down, and other pieces of just plain trash litter the entire murder scene. Knowing Rhyme’s method of solving cases she and several of the officers begin gathering together as much of the trash as is possible.

The Ashorne’s Ingress by Seamus Eaton

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Truly a prolific read, Seamus Eaton’s The Ashorne’s Ingress excites the imagination with a multifaceted, and complex fantasy epic which proffers to readers an enticing narrative rich with the craftily blended elements of fantasy, horror, gore, magic, science fiction, and sex.

Initially, events start out on earth, the year is 2020 and we are introduced to the focal character William Gentry, who is in the midst of a softball game when his whole world comes tumbling down as he receives the news that his family was severely injured in a freak kitchen accident, that leaves his wife and son dead, and his daughter’s life hanging in the balance. Meanwhile, as he struggles with his emotions and the devastation of the loss, William finds himself approached by two beings claiming to be ambassadors from a land called Arba, located on another world. Claiming to have knowledge of his true identity and legacy, they extend to him a very odd offer, that if accepted would lead to saving his daughter’s life, and possibly more, they only catch is he has to drown himself in a specific river, at a specific time and carry with him an odd triangle they left with him called the Germ of Reismyl. Distraught, in disbelief and teetering on the edge of insanity, he initially misses the opportunity to take the plunge, resulting in the unfortunate death of his daughter.

Don’t Wake Up: A Novel by Liz Lawler

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Imagine waking up stripped of your clothes, strapped to an operating table, and threatened with unimaginable physical cruelty. This is what happens to Dr. Alex Taylor, who works at a hospital in Bath, England. After Alex’s terrifying experience, she is convinced that she was violated, however, no physical proof exists that supports her story. Alex’s life takes a downward spiral, as she tries to convince everyone the attack was real and not a delusion. She starts drinking too much. When a pregnant nurse dies, Alex is convinced the same person who tortured her is responsible. No one believes Alex’s allegation. It appears as if Alex needs psychological help, and deadly incidents involving her only make things worse. Relationships with her colleagues and boyfriend suffer, and Alex worries she is losing her grip on reality.

In Don’t Wake Up, Liz Lawler expertly utilizes multiple third person point of view. Lawler only switches character perspectives between chapters or scenes, and it is clear whose eyes readers are looking through. The majority of this engrossing story is told from Alex’s perspective, but readers are also shown the viewpoints of key characters and their reactions to Alex’s claim of an attack. The different viewpoints pull readers deeper into the heart of the story in which Lawler skillfully interweaves not only things such as criminal acts, police investigations, prejudice, disloyalty, jealousy, violence, and dedication but also the effects of psychological trauma, overindulgence in alcohol, and reliance on anxiety medication.

The Next President by Joseph Flynn

Reviewed by Allen Hott

This is the first of Mr. Flynn’s books that I have read and it is quite a story. In my eyes, although it is some ways hard to believe, I truly think that most all of the happenings could occur. The entire story is about a new presidential candidate who happens to be black and how there is an involved plot to have him assassinated. How those who are planning this endeavor ever decided the best person to do the job would be a sharpshooter who served in the army under one of the planners is somewhat a mystery. It appears that he might be the best qualified?

Senator Franklin Delano Rawley is the candidate and Jefferson Davis Cade is the original sniper that is set up for the attack. (You have to like the FDR and Jefferson Davis implications in the book if you think about politics while reading.) J. D. Cade has just recently killed a man in his hometown in a very strategic and fascinating way. His former commanding officer in the army knows of this secret and decides to use it to force J.D. to pull off the assassination under fear of being tried for the murder at home plus a threat to J D’s son is implied.

Forgotten Bones (Dead Remaining) by Vivian Barz

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Forgotten Bones is the first installment in the Dead Remaining series. Police Officer Susan Marlan and College Professor Eric Evans play the central characters. The prologue draws readers in with a realistic and dramatic opening that leads to a creepy mystery for law enforcement to solve. It involves the accidental discovery of one child’s dead body in the small town of Perrick, California, and the uncovering of more bodies. The FBI takes over the case, and they zero in on one man as the guilty party. However, Susan questions the validity of the FBI’s rationale and decides to conduct her own unauthorized investigation. Eric is experiencing uncanny and horrifying visions that seem to correlate with the gruesome findings of the corpses. Are Eric’s hallucinations from his own imagination, or do supernatural elements play any kind of role? Eric teams up with Susan to help discover if the police have the right suspect in their sights.

Girl Most Likely: A Thriller (Krista Larson) by Max Allan Collins

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

Max Allan Collins book, “Girl Most Likely” introduces us to Krista Larson, young chief of police of a small Midwestern town named Galena. She is only 28 years old, which makes her the youngest female police chief in the country. She learned from the best, her father, retired detective Keith Larson.

Chief Larson is attending her 10-year high school reunion. The reunion is held over a weekend with several events planned. Sadly, a year earlier one of her classmates was murdered in Clearwater, Florida. Then, during the reunion, another classmate is killed. The second victim is a high-profile journalist for a Chicago TV station. In high school she was known as a boyfriend stealer and not the most well liked. Digging into the past can be tricky and old grudges and drama cause resentments to flare. Keith’s wife, Krista’s mother, recently died. To help deal with his grief, Krista invites him to help with the investigation.

The Better Sister: A Novel by Alafair Burke

Reviewed by Vickie Dailey

I really enjoyed reading this book. I’ve long since enjoyed her father’s mystery novels and Alafair measures up.

We first meet the younger sister Chloe who has the splashy life working for a popular magazine. Chloe is now married to Adam and they have a stepson Ethan; however, nothing is as it seems – the happy marriage is not so happy and the son is not a happy teen.

Cry of an Osprey by Angie Vancise

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Cry of an Osprey by Angie Vancise is, in short, an emotional roller-coaster. Although the main topic seems to be an alternative love story, this is only the backdrop for a bigger picture to which each reader can relate to a certain degree. It is a story about family ties, solidarity and losing a loved one.

At the center of the story stands Jax Vanbeerman who only at the age of 48 suffers a stroke. This is the trigger that unites a dispersed family, a current and a former lover and many more people to share a couple of agonizing days in close quarters. At which point there is a temporal bifurcation, on one hand we are in the present next to Jax in the hospital together with the loved ones, but also in the past, reliving memories of the good old days. It is in this process of remembrance that regret creeps in as characters wonder about alternate decisions and actions, about what could have been. In fact, as Jax fades away from the living, he grows ever stronger in the hearts and memories of the people who loved him. Perhaps this is the most important lesson of the book.

The Summons by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

This, without a doubt, is one of Grisham’s best books! A very well written story of Ray Atlee who is summoned to come back to his father’s home in Clanton Mississippi. His father, Judge Rueben Atlee, is one of the most well-known and highly regarded chancellors in the state. Although he and his two sons, Ray and Forrest, have never been very close the boys have always respected and responded to their father’s wishes. He has sent each of them a very official summons telling them what day and what time they are to be at the old homestead for a meeting.

Ray knows that his father is dying of cancer and fears that this may be the last meeting they will have. What he doesn’t know is what he finds out when he arrives. He goes into the house to find his father asleep (he thinks) on a couch so rather than wake him Ray sits outside on a porch for a bit. Finally when he does go in he touches his father’s hand and realizes that he is already dead! There doesn’t seem to be any criminal type cause of death. He has been taken away by the cancer and it occurred while he waited on his sons to arrive.

As has been somewhat typical for some time however Forrest doesn’t show up and Ray begins to look around the house to see if anything unusual is or has happened since his last visit. As it turns out, in one of the storage closets Ray finds among other things a cardboard box and when he opens it to see what is inside he finds stacks of hundred dollar bills. By a quick overview and observation it appears each box has over a hundred thousand dollars in it. And there are at least twenty of these green storage boxes in the closet! Where did this come from?

Ray also finds a newly written will which his father had just written and was laying on the table by his sofa. The will explained everything was to be handled through the courts and then divided between the two sons. Ray was to act as the executor of the estate. The will only mentions about six thousand dollars in the bank and has no mention of the money in the boxes.

Ray is at a loss as to what to do when Forrest finally does arrive. Forrest is a very addicted drug user who has wasted his money, his wife, and his life on drugs. Ray doesn’t mention to him about the boxes as the two sit and discuss how to handle their father’s funeral arrangement. After meeting with Harry Rex Vonner, an attorney and one of the Judge’s closest friends all arrangements are made and both Ray and Forrest go their separate ways just waiting for the funeral itself.

But from that moment on in the story Ray is saddled with not only the secret of the money but questions as to where it came from, who knows about it

if anyone, and what is going to happen to it. Basically Ray is the “unknown” guardian of the stash and he begins moving it around with him wherever he goes and wherever he stays. However, not too long after the funeral strange things begin to happen to Ray. Someone appears to be following him no matter where he is. And then when he does take the money in bags home with him, his home gets broken into. Shortly after he puts it into several storage units someone begins sending him pictures of the storage units!

How this is all grows into a really great story is one of Grisham’s best! The whole tale will keep any and all readers into the book right up to the end. Oh, yeah and even that may leave most of you stunned! It did me!