Category Archives: Fiction

Cooking for Cannibals by Rich Leder

Reviewed by Daniel Ryan Johnson

Cooking For Cannibals is your classic love story. Boy meets girl. Girl gives her mother and her mother’s friends a miracle drug that makes them young again. Corporate hit-men come in search of miracle drug. Drug comes with the side effect of craving human meat. Youthful 90 year olds start killing people of questionable character. Boy starts cooking up a cannibalistic feast. It’s a tale as old as time.

Rich Leder takes us on a wild ride in this darkly comedic thriller and if you are willing to suspend your disbelief a bit you will be joyfully swept along. It’s not the drug that takes the elderly back half a century that is hard to believe. Nor is it the fact that a side effect of the drug is cannibalism. Rather the most unbelievable part of the book is in the insane luck that our protagonists seem to be blessed with as they are constantly jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire while remaining unscathed, with death and destruction looming all around them.

A Steep Price (Tracy Crosswhite Book 6) by Robert Dugoni

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A very good cop story by Dugoni. A good read with action, story line and no sex! Tracy Crosswhite is a Seattle homicide detective who works with Del, Faz, and Kins. In this one Del and Faz are working to break up a drug ring headed by a guy named Little Jimmy. It appears that Little Jimmy has shot and killed a woman in the neighborhood who was spearheading a drive against drugs. The main proof is a hand print on top of an automobile that was left by the gunmen. But figuring out if that ties to the shooting is part of the story.

Faz knows Little Jimmy very well since when he was fourteen Faz had been instrumental in getting Little Jimmy’s dad put in prison. While there he was killed by other prisoners and Little Jimmy still feels that Faz was the one who put his dad in the position and thus he does not like Faz. So far however it has been just a quiet eye to eye battle between the two but Faz watches Jimmy very closely. And Faz works to prove Jimmy is the one in the murder of the woman.

While Faz and Del work on their case they also battle sideline battles. Del has severe back problems that get worse every day by his work and doing things around the house. It causes Faz to have to work alone quite often and he is also having personal problems as his wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer so he is having all sorts of mental anguish.

A Bend in the River by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Reviewed by Teri Davis

From an American, Vietnam is usually from the soldier perspective. Yes, our young men were enlisted and drafted into military service. Many more interpretations of the situation half-a-world away from the United States do exist.

Libby Hellman wrote a realistic fiction novel beginning in 1968 involving two sisters from a small Vietnamese village, Tam and Mai.

This small village is approached by Americans both from land and air. The two know about how the servicemen drop bombs from helicopters leaving their crops burnt and poisoned. Even worse, they are then not able to grow anything on that land for years.

Tam and Mai select two different opportunities leading them apart and not reuniting again until 1978. What could happen in those ten years?

A Bend in the River is a beautiful image of life for the Vietnamese people of the South. Author Libby Hellman vivaciously researched this particular time, the land, and spoke to many people regarding their personal experiences in creating this gem. Her characterization makes real people in this fictional tale of the sisters.

The Innocent (Will Robie Book 1) by David Baldacci

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Will Robie is back and though a lot of us have a hard time believing that our government would hire hit men to take out those opposed to our ideas, here is the guy who does just that. For some time and several Baldacci books Will Robie has been the hit man for the United States who travels all over the world. He works for the U.S. government incognito and takes out the top men in the various groups who oppose the U.S. way of thinking and doing business.

He basically reports to one man who gives him his assignments and these assignments can be anywhere in the world. And as is almost always the case he somehow gets involved personally with individuals along the way. Usually these individuals are women that he meets and falls for. Some of them are good and some are not so his live becomes even more involved than just killing bad guys.

In this story Robie begins having to kill a Russian and a Palestinian who are planning on killing someone high in the U.S. Government. Robie does his job and makes his way back home. Little does he realize that the Palestinian whom he had killed has a relative who will hunt Robie down and eventually find him.

Daniel Scratch: A Story of Witchkind by Don Jones

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Daniel Scratch has the misfortune of being an orphan. Strangely, he is allowed to stay in his family home. Being alone in an old house can be difficult; however, brownies, the little elf-like creatures, clean and cook for him. His father lives as a spirit in the basement, making noise and yelling advice. Also, his great-great-grandmother resides in the attic as a spirit-like creature in another dimension.

Daniel lives inside a world of witches and humans co-existing with each other.

On his thirteenth birthday, Daniel’s great-great-grandmother informs him that he is to take a test. She gives him no other information but directions. Afterward, he is given an unusual glass medallion and discovers himself on an isle with the Tower of Endings. Now his education to fulfill his family destiny begins.

Reading Daniel Scratch is reminiscent of Harry Potter, in that they both begin in similar situations such as being orphaned and no family support. The discovery of their destinies is the adventure.

Once the education begins for Daniel, it also starts for the reader. The sentence structure and vocabulary are both more advanced, allowing the reader to learn along with him. Philosophy is intermixed into his lessons, also increasing the difficulty level.

The story is exceptionally well-organized. Developing the details in the world of the Axis is his destiny. He must learn the responsibilities of each Axis before he ascends to his duties for the Sixth Axis.

Surprisingly, the necessary relationships between witches and humans are compared to any entity dealing with people. The lessons for Daniel are relatable for everyone as he learns from his own and others’ mistakes.

An underlying theme is also the necessity of continuing reading and researching the past.

The author, Don Jones, resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. After years of writing technology books, he now has entered the fantasy world of witchcraft with an obvious continuing story of Daniel Scratch.

Daniel Scratch is an enjoyable story with unpredictable twists and turns that will leave you wondering and always thinking and questioning.

I look forward to meeting Daniel Scratch again in the future of this exciting new series.

The Society (Elizabeth Grant Thrillers Book 1) by C.G. Abbot

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

While Elizabeth Grant is housesitting her grandmother’s house in Mississippi, she is plagued with returning nightmares. Seven years earlier her best friend Loralei, the closest thing she had to a sister, disappeared without a trace. As a child, Elizabeth spent every summer visiting her grandparents. During her first summer visit, she met Loralei and they became best friends spending all their time together.

The summer that Loralei vanished, Elizabeth did not visit Mississippi. Could she have done something to prevent her disappearance? The night her friend went missing, she had a vision of Loralei in her bedroom in Colorado. Loralei appeared bloody and beaten, terrifying Elizabeth. She asked her mother to call Lorelai’s house and learned that she was missing. Loralei was never found and Elizabeth began to have nightmares and visions of her. What terrible thing happened to Loralei?

Now, while at her grandmother’s house, she receives an early morning visitor, Madame Antionette. Madame Antoinette needs to speak to Elizabeth about Loralei as she was having visions of her too. Soon after her visit, the woman is killed and Elizabeth is now in danger too. Someone is watching her, possibly the same person or persons who hurt Loralei and Madame Antoinette. Elizabeth discovers that her friend was in possession of some important documents that endangered her life and puts the nation in jeopardy. Throughout the book, Lorelei appears to her friend helping her figure out the mystery.

Harbor’s Edge by Sanne Rothman

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Sanne Rothman’s young adult thriller, Harbor’s Edge, piques the curiosity while romancing the imagination, with a story that offers mystery, the supernatural, budding romance, and an intelligent 14-year-old heroine on a profoundly insightful journey to self-discovery.

The story is set in beautiful Hawaii with which author Sanne Rothman does a wonderful job of detailing the beautiful environment. She brings forth both its timeless natural beauty as well as artfully presents intriguing aspects of Hawaiian life and culture especially with her incorporation of the lore of the dark and ancient sea monsters called The Mo’o, the legend, and mystery of which is initially contemplated by Harbor early on in the story.

Initially, as the story unfolds, we meet Harbor, a young, resilient, intelligent teenager who finds her life shrouded in mystery and sadness. Having lost both her parents under mysterious circumstances, she fights with feelings of abandonment as she seeks to solve the mystery of what truly happened. She lost her F.B.I. agent father to a cold-blooded murderer and her mother, who disappeared without a trace, leaving her and her younger sister Fig in the care of their TuTu (grandmother). TuTu owns a popular, local restaurant, featuring Hawaiian hamburgers and Harbor works at the restaurant in the drive-thru which allows her the opportunity to practice analyzing the faces of customers based on techniques from her father’s FBI profiling manuals. She works on her skills at analyzing faces in the hopes of finding clues to her father’s murderer and clues to her missing mother.

Big Numbers (Austin Carr Mystery Book 1) by Jack Getze

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Austin Carr is having some problems with his life. Because of monetary problems and a split with his wife, he is living in an old truck-mounted camper. The camper is parked in the lot of a bar where he spends a lot of time and the owner of the bar wants him out of the lot but seems to always succumb to Carr’s charm. Carr has also given him a few stock tips that paid off and he is hoping for more help in exchange along the way to pay for the parking.

Mostly Carr gets along well with Luis who is the bartender at Cruz’s bar and grill so that keeps him pretty well fixed for food and beverages. However Cruz still is very watchful because he isn’t happy with the camper truck in the lot.

It seems as a stockbroker he isn’t doing overly well although he has one client, Gerry Burns, who has been putting quite a bit of work Carr’s way. One day Gerry comes in to see Carr and first complains a bit about the market, like everyone else is doing in this particular slowdown. But then he drops a bigger bomb when he tells Carr that has pancreatic cancer and supposedly is dying.

GREEZERS: A Tale of Establishment’s Decline and Fall by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Greezers is Simon Plaster’s latest and perhaps greatest satirical novel featuring the memorable character, Henrietta, named after a town in Oklahoma, Henryetta, who, previous to Greezers, had the desire to advance her journalistic career and one day earn a Pulitzer Prize. In Greezers, a tale of a chain of lube shops, fast food, and succession, Henrietta seeks a change in her life, and gets a job as an assistant to Leroy (“Lero”) O’Rourke, a private detective. She thinks that as a journalist, she has done a fair amount of deductive reasoning, and that will stand her in good steed in her new career. But what lengths will she go to in her pursuit of truth, justice, and the American way? Let’s just say that in Greezers, chock-full of popular culture and musical references that fans of the series have come to expect, Simon Plaster has Henrietta putting her “assets” out on stage for all to see, even having her briefly working at a strip club in her efforts to surveil a subject, Harry DeGrasso, who is a potential heir of the Trinita Coal Oil & Tar Company.

You may wonder why Greezers is called Greezers. It’s because the book is about the plots and schemes of potential successors to the Trinita Coal Oil & Tar Company’s chain of Greezers lube shops to one day take over control of same from the Company’s elderly 95-year-old matriarch, Nanette GeGrasso. While her son, Charles, being the Executive Vice-President of the Company, looks like he would be the obvious choice as the heir apparent, he has fallen out of favor with his mother, and he has familial rivals who also would like to dethrone Nanette, like her nephew, Joe DeGrasso, who is also an Executive Vice-President. Nanette acts scornfully towards all of the potential successors, with the exception of Harry, who is her grandson and a junior executive in the Company, under both the watchful eye and thumb of Charles. Charles, however, does not think that Harry is trained fully enough or is nearly as experienced and worthy as he is, and he believes that he, rather than Harry, should be the one to take over after his mother dies.

Strong from the Heart: A Caitlin Strong Novel (Caitlin Strong Novels Book 11) by Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

“Central, we’ve got a potential level one event.”

Good thing such things are nothing new for Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong. And with that line from the prologue, her latest adventure Strong from the Heart is off and running at a breakneck clip that doesn’t let up until the final page is turned. This is the best thriller of the year, in large part for how it confronts Caitlin and company with challenges that are exceedingly rare for a genre novel.

I say that because not only does Strong from the Heart place the opioid crisis front and center, but the book does so with the series’ tried and true regulars front and center. Start with Caitlin’s surrogate son, now high school senior Luke Torres, being rushed to the hospital after snorting Oxycontin. Add to that Caitlin’s own dependence on Vicodin to get her through the pain from recent gunfight-related trauma and you’ve got the recipe for a thriller rife with characters at war with themselves as much as the bad guys who’ve hatched a typically nightmarish plot, typical for Caitlin Strong anyway.

These particular Washington-based villains have formed a drug cartel of mammoth proportions under the auspices of the government itself. Their dirty dealings are brought to light when an entire town on the Texas-Mexico border is wiped out in minutes. But a Caitlin Strong thriller is far more comfortable in the darkness and Strong from the Heart is no exception there, as we’re treated to a seemingly endless succession of morally challenged types, most notably a monstrous Native American named Yarek Bone who sports a condition that keeps him from feeling any pain.