Category Archives: Fiction

The Furies by Corey Croft

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

The FuriesThis is a book that has it all; friendship, love, violence, and drugs. The Furies by Corey Croft follows the story of a group of Fury friends. In their final year of high school they are faced with a series of tough decisions. It is about them making it just one more year; it is about figuring out what comes next when worlds of possibilities open up in front of them. Or do they? But above all, it is a story about different ways of coming to terms with oneself.

Set amidst the 90’s drug boom, the narrative faithfully encapsulates the spirit of the time. The plot oozes cultural references specific to that period which takes the reader on a playful journey back in time. The city of Fury is where it all happens. It is a city, not unlike any other, where social and racial divide fills the air. And so does the smell of weed. Corey Croft takes you beyond a picture-perfect layout of middle class life which leads you down some dark alleys and shows you what lurks behind closed doors. The Furies is all about forms of struggle and adaptation to what life throws at you. And the furions sure know how to throw back a punch. But there is also a softer side to their wild nature – a childhood naivete that lingers on in their adolescence.

The Eighth Sister: A Thriller (Charles Jenkins) by Robert Dugoni

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Eighth SisterThis is quite a story that basically that wraps around the concept that there are or were eight Russian women who have fought against the KGB or its current counterpart the FSB for many years. Supposedly there were seven who lived for years but then, again supposedly, three of them were killed or died in some fashion. Now there is a new one looking to join up with the survivors and she would be The Eighth Sister. However there is at least one Russian FSB agent, Viktor Federov, who is looking earnestly for this theoretical eighth sister. He hopes by finding her he can find the other remaining sisters and bring them to Russian justice!

However in the United States Charles Jenkins, a former US CIA agent, was contacted by his former CIA boss who wants him to go into Russia undercover and convince the FSB that he knows who and where the original sisters are and that the eighth sister will come forward allowing the FSB to capture her and try to track down the others. However before they can do that the CIA plans to step into Jenkins’ place and kill the eighth before she can do any talking.

The Experiment (The Kinship Series Book 3) by Robin Lamont

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

The ExperimentRobin Lamont’s The Experiment, the third addition to her well-received Kinship series, traverses the rough terrain of animal rights in a story that not only takes readers seamlessly into a world that brims with webbed mystery but also exposes the horrific aspects of a subject that is not often visited – the protection of animals.

Promptly, from the narrative’s outset, the suspense begins to build, as we meet the story’s engagingly complex protagonist, Jude Brannock, a senior investigator at The Kinship, an organization specializing in undercover investigations of large scale / industrial animal abuse. Jude anxiously broods about a recently hired investigator, Time Mains her trainee, who suddenly seemed to be mysteriously missing in action. Investigative Trainee Tim Mains embarked on an independent mission to go undercover to gather, document and report violations at a targeted company Amaethon Industries. After a spate of little to no contact from Tim, Jude embarks on an intense mission to find the missing investigator determined to get to the truth of his whereabouts, especially after his cryptic message of being on to “something big”. However, Jude’s interest in the mystery of Tim’s disappearance turns out to be more than just a “platonic” or “comrade in arms” type of concern for him as it turns out the two had started an affair that had to be kept out of sight.

Establishing Presence: A Chip Fullerton/Annie Smith Sports Novel – Book Three by T.L. Hoch

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Establishing PresenceWhat is the purpose of a softball game? Is it the same as a basketball game? Is there a difference between the two? Is winning the goal of both sports? Is winning everything? Can you learn more than the techniques of a competition by not winning?

Between the junior and senior years of high school, a few exceptional female athletes are invited to assist at a sports camp for women’s softball and basketball. Annie, Chip, and Jenny are from the small town of Reston, Texas and joined by Cheryl while rooming together at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.

Cheryl’s uncle is in charge of the camp and is thrilled to have these exceptionally talented high-school seniors joining her.

The four girls enthusiastically work with the younger campers teaching them the technicalities and techniques needed to improve their skills. Including becoming better players, they also quickly learn that building their game skills are as necessary as building their personal and interpersonal skills.

Ninth and Nowhere by Jeffery Deaver

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Ninth & NowhereAnother of Deaver’s short stories that appears to be published for Kindle type readers. This one may fit that category but it is still a very good read. As usual Deaver kind of starts “nowhere” in the story with a mix of characters who seemingly do not know each other. But bang! They all come together and the reader finds out exactly what is going on.

Ninth and Nowhere has seven supposed strangers who are pretty much described in detail by Deaver but the reader doesn’t know what is going on and how they will interact. One of them is a young man who wants to buy a gun, another is the gangster who wants to sell him the gun, and then there is a good police officer who is working his last patrol.

Also one is a lady executive who is keeping things from her husband, a single father in a custody battle for his child, and a very impressive looking businessman who is on his way to a new job that he really needs. And finally there is recently released veteran who is having a hard time getting over some of the horrors of war that he has just recently witnessed.

The Burning Man by Phillip Margolin

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Kind of a combination of lawyering, murdering, and many other things to keep the reader involved. Peter Hale is a young attorney who while working for his father kind of screws up a case. The attorney father heads up a prestigious firm and is so upset with his son’s mistake that he chases him from the firm. He does set Peter up, however, with a job as a public defender in a very small town working for a very small law firm. Peter is torn at first as to whether to even accept the job or get into a completely different field.

However when he gets to his new job and meets the owner/lawyer who he will be working for he is stupefied! It turns out the job he will be doing is as a criminal lawyer. He is used to working on business deals etc. not chasing down and defending people who broke the law by some criminal deed. However he takes on the challenge and strives to show his father he can do it.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Reviewed by Allen Hott

I have been reading and hearing about this one for quite a-while and was not too sure that I wanted to read it. Thought it would be too poo-poo or womanly if you prefer. But not only was I surprised but really I have to agree with everyone else. Where the Crawdads Sing is truly a great read.

“Marsh Girl” or Kya Clark which is her real name lives quite a different life from most folks. She grows up in the marshland outside of Barkley Cove, North Carolina. She has one of the strangest lives that can be imagined. Her family lives in a run-down shack and is pretty much bossed by the father of the family. But one day her mother leaves (because of the father’s actions) and never returns. Then as time passes each of Kya’s brothers and sister also leave.

Zintara and the Stones of Alu Cemah by Dominic Bohbot and Michel Bohbot

Reviewed by Ray Palen

The debut novel from brothers Michel and Dominic Bohbot is a dynamic fantasy tale inspired by the love of speculative fiction instilled in them by their father. This is seen not only in the dedication of ZINTARA AND THE STONES OF ALU CEMAH but also throughout the narrative.

We are taken to another world, one that contains mythical and imaginary creatures alongside human characters. There is a synopsis of many of the characters at the start of the novel and I admit I had to turn to it several times during the reading as there are a lot of names and relationships for the reader to juggle. The Prologue finds a young Zintara, human in all features aside from the great black wings that thrust out from her back, being sent away by her mother as her family and their empire falls in a violent manner. The antagonist of this tale, Korban — human warrior and sorcerer — is on a quest for the three Stones of Alu Cemah which will purportedly bring him the ability to rule over all.

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.