Category Archives: Fiction

The Second Hostage by Jeffery Deaver

Reviewed by Allen Hott

It appears that Deaver has now begun writing the short stories (I suppose for EBooks). If this is a taste I would have to say that it was a great taste! Very short and easy to read but with a great plot, good characters, and great dialogue that are the norm in all of Deaver’s books.

The opening is kind of interesting in that during a meeting a fairly good sized group of deputies in Humble, Kansas receive a call that someone has been taken hostage. The sheriff isn’t available but one of the deputies decides that they as a group need to go and see what is going on.

It just so happens that a fellow named Colter Shaw is in town and was in listening to the deputies talking. Shaw is somewhat unique in that he is a “Reward Seeker”. Not actually a legal cop in any way he does travel around the west looking to earn rewards for finding missing persons or even things. Kind of an unusual occupation but he makes a living doing it and it somehow may be of help here.

Part of the story then goes into some detail as how Shaw is looking for a young teenager named Emma. He used various methods to trace her to the Humble area but wasn’t having much luck getting help from any lawmen as they all pretty much scoff at his occupation.

The Money Shot (A Teddy Fay Novel Book 2) by Stuart Woods

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Basically it is a Teddy Fay story although the cover claims it features Sone Barrington. Teddy is without a doubt the main character and he carries if off pretty well. As a matter of fact even though he is shot by three shots on the first page of the book he not only survives but he goes on to do many other extraordinary things.

Whoops! I guess I forgot to mention that those shots were not real bullets and Teddy was playing a part in a movie! But it is an interesting beginning to a pretty well written and very fast paced story by Woods.

Although Teddy uses several names and does several different jobs in the book he primarily is put to work as a detective. In addition to those roles he is also a top-flight weapons expert and make-uo artist. But in Hollywood he is a stuntman, a producer, and then a former CIA man turned detective. He fills all the roles well and is well accomplished in them especially the detective bit.

It seems as though someone has been able to get some rather or perhaps very risqué movies of a famous female actress. The actress, Tessa Bacchetti, has come to Teddy to see if he can help her as she is being blackmailed by someone. The blackmail involves some film taken of her and her boyfriend in college. Needless to say the film has sexual scenes. Supposedly the boyfriend, with whom she has broken up some time ago, was to have destroyed the film.

She knows of Teddy’s abilities and hopes that he can help her without her having to go to the police because of the damage to her career.

Teddy agrees to see what he can do and then gets very deeply involved with several different groups of villains. The original pair of culprits who have the film are basically after the money but as the plot grows and thickens it really gets deep. There are others who have now gotten involved. And they are looking for ways to get involved not only in the motion picture industry but to actually take over one or more studios.

Teddy, pretty much always on his own, has to not only sort out who is who and what he is doing but he has to stop it. Luckily his background in the industry puts him in positions that most would be unable to get into. Using his circle of friends and overall knowhow of what goes on he is able to make great strides quickly.

But not without injury! Mainly to himself as some of his stuntman work gets screwed around by the bad guys leaving Teddy “to take the fall”.

When you read the book you will figure out what that term actually means! A good fast read without a bunch of sex or profanity!

One Good Deed by David Baldacci

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Shortly after WW II Aloysius Archer ends up in Poca City which is the little town that he is assigned to as part of his parole. He was put into prison for a crime that he didn’t commit. He knows nothing about the town and the townsfolk know nothing about him. While in prison he spent much of his time exercising and actually doing body building so he was in very good shape although not a big man.

Archer quickly realizes that not only does he need to meet with his parole officer but he also needs to find some sort of employment as his room rent is eating up his meager savings.

After getting checked into a hotel he begins to feel the need for a drink although bars and liquor are both listed on things that parolees are not to partake of. But he believes he can control himself so off he heads to The Cat’s Meow. And this first visit is pretty much the beginning of One Good Deed..

While at the bar he meets up with Hank Pittleman who is enjoying his drink with a young lady who turns out to be Jackie Tuttle (though Archer doesn’t know it at the time). Pittleman tells Archer that a man named Lucas Tuttle borrowed some money from him and not only didn’t pay it back but he also didn’t turn over the 1947 Cadillac which was used as collateral for the loan.

Pittleman gives Archer some money to go and get the Cadillac and bring it to him. Archer sees this as a good way to earn some cash and agrees to the task.

The following morning Archer makes his first visit to his parole officer who turns out to be a lady named Ernestine Crabtree. He explains about his new “job” since she tells him there is plenty of work in the area and part of his parole is partaking in three job interviews. She accepts his explanation of his job and tells him that if it doesn’t work out he must do the interviews. He agrees.

All of this is just the groundwork for a very interesting read as Archer gets involved with Poca City residents and especially Pittleman, the two Tuttles, and Crabtree. Those four play interesting roles in this story as Baldacci tells it.

One of the first events is that the Cadillac is actually burned up before Archer can get it or before Pittleman can retrieve it from Tuttle.

However there are many other interesting happenings as Archer begins his new life in Poca City. The ongoing battle for “big man on campus” so to speak between Pittleman and Tuttle is perhaps the largest but the life that Archer lives involving Jackie and his Parole Officer also contribute to the story line.

Another great read by the master, David Baldacci! Read it and enjoy!

Noble Beginnings: A Jack Noble Novel by L.T. Ryan

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Quite an interesting book but I am still trying to figure out exactly the total picture. Jack Noble and his partner, Bear, are deployed Marines in Iraq assisting the CIA supposedly. But as the story deepens it appears that the CIA isn’t really on their side. Or at least someone in the upper echelon of the CIA has developed a really intricate and complicated scheme. Whatever that scheme is never really develops but Noble and Bear suffer because of it.
It starts when the two of them try to save a family from what appears to be an assassination of the father. Noble doesn’t believe that the family and especially the children should be witnesses to this maneuver. He boldly steps forward and stops the procedure from happening.

The leader of the group is a man named Martinez who begins a scuffle with Noble. However Noble and Bear withstand the attempted putdown and Martinez with his men take off leaving Noble with Bear to watch over the family for a short while. Shortly after however is when the main part of this story really begins.

The Nosferatu Conspiracy: The Sleepwalker by Brian James Gage

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

The Nosferatu Conspiracy: The Sleepwalker is the first book in a new series that takes place in both Romania and Saint Petersburg, Russia. Brian James Gage has written a gripping, edge-of-your-seat supernatural thriller with his own interpretation of Russian history involving Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin and the Russian Imperial Romanov family during the reign of Tsar Nicholas Aleksandrovich Romanov II. Rasputin, a powerful and deceptive vampire with extraordinary, otherworldly abilities, has orchestrated an elaborate scheme that will enable vampires to rule the world and use the human population as a food source. Members of the Romanov family are crucial to the success of Rasputin’s game plan. Vampire hunters with special weapons are trying to thwart Rasputin’s efforts in his promise of victory for bloodsucking evil beings to triumph over humankind. The hunters face a time-constraint for trying to put a stop to this calamitous undertaking. Who will be the victor? Will humans serve as vampires’ food supply or will humans destroy any chance of vampires running rampant?

Buried Leads: A Nichelle Clarke Crime Thriller by Lyndee Walker

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Early one morning Nichelle Clarke, a very hard-working crime/political writer for the Richmond Telegraph, gets a call that drives this whole story. A body has been found in a shallow grave. It turns out the well dressed individual in the muddy shallow gravesite was a lawyer. And not just a lawyer but a tobacco lobbyist from Washington D.C.

To be the first reporter on the scene is a great deal for Nichelle as she is constantly battling with other reporters for the top spot in the eyes of the paper’s editors. Her boss, who is an assistant editor, is always trying to get her more and more involved as he likes her style. However the competition is tough and continues throughout the story.

As other events occur, including other deaths, there is little doubt that the original death was part of a very large political manuever. Not only are local politicians but the trail goes higher and higher all the way to the Senate.

There are several people who get involved with Nichelle and one is an FBI agent who is a former boyfriend of hers. Kyle still is pretty well enamored with her though she doesn’t appear quite as anxious for him. But he is a great source of needed information as she gets deeper and deeper into the case.

Strangely enough the other individual who not only helps her but actually saves her from possible harm is a Mafia boss. Joey is a young neighbor who has been very friendly with Nichelle. She never realizes that he is involved with criminal activities at all. It turns out he seems to be a watchdog for several gangs but doesn’t really do much expect spy around and report activities.

Nichelle does get very deep into who and what is involved. It turns out that many of her instincts are correct as politics, graft, and just plain criminal events happen. One of these even include putting Nichelle into the hospital

It is a very good read and all of it seems to be very possible in today’s world. Crime is rampant everywhere, politicians get involved, and quite often it is the work of a “digging” news reporter of some sort to uncover it!

Who’s There?: A Collection of Stories by Dimas Rio

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Offering horror fans a literate concoction of brief yet creatively posed stories woven with a supernatural bent throughout, Who’s There? by author Dimas Rio does well to stimulate the imagination with his collection of Asian culture-centric, eclectic shorts each sure to pique the interest as well as tingle the spine.

Firstly, Author Dimas beguiles the reader with solid storytelling with the title story, Who’s There? which is also my personal favorite. This well-honed tale brings the reader along on a creepy journey through the guilt-ridden conscience of an alcoholic, drug-addicted and particularly egocentric man whose dark psyche leads him into the cold wet embrace of his fiancé.

Continuing the chills is story 2, titled At Dusk within which a high school magazine reporter embarks on an assignment to interview a celebrity mystery writer who shares the ultimate ghost story to his captive, and earnest yet unsuspecting audience of one.

Acts of Faith: Part 1 of The Inquisition Trilogy by Martin Elsant

Reviewed by Ray Palen

The British Jewish historian Cecil Roth, who was educated at Oxford, wrote a book that was of special interest to author Martin Elsant. The book was entitled History Of the Marranos and of the many figures covered in it was one Diego Lopes of Pinancos in Coimbra, Portugal. Ironically, Mr. Elsant is a former radiologist living in Jerusalem and Mr. Roth died in Jerusalem in the year 1970.

While much of ACTS OF FAITH is dedicated to the descendants of Diego Lopes, Martin Elsant includes two quotes prior to his Author’s Notes from different sources. One in particular I found quite interesting: “Folded under the dark wing of the Inquisition…the influence of an eye that never slumbered, of an unseen arm ever raised to strike. How could there be freedom of thought, where there was no freedom of utterance? Or freedom of utterance, where it was as dangerous to say too little as too much? Freedom cannot go along with fear.” – William H. Prescott, The Age of Phillip II and the Supremacy of the Spanish Empire, 1858.

It is easy to pick up a history book or click on Wikipedia to find out about Diego Lopes. I prefer, whenever possible, to read historical fiction — an infusion of actual history within the opportunities that allow for creativity when re-examining historical events. I believe that this is what Martin Elsant is doing with ACTS OF FAITH, retelling historical events during one of the most difficult times in human and religious history — The Inquisitions — in such a way that it feels as if the reader is enjoying a book of fiction, filled with all the expected plot twists and turns.

Guess Who by Nesly Clerge and Joyce L. Shafer

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Guess Who by Nesly Clerge and Joyce L. Shafer is a sultry romance story nicely wrapped in a cop thriller. A pleasant read for these cozy winter nights.

In the center of all stands Tessa, a woman with a tumultuous past and full of contradictions. She becomes entangled with a chain of bank robberies. After her intuition unexpectedly kicks in upon reading a newspaper article about the crimes, she decides to fully immerse herself in the case to help untangle its mysteries. But the task she set out for herself is not easy. Her first major obstacle proves to be the main detective working the case, Max Walker. He seems impervious to her intention and explanations, hanging up on Tessa’s numerous calls. So, what is a girl to do? Get on the next flight to New York, of course, and make the detective listen.

While the pretense of the plot would label the novel as a thriller, the bank robberies and law enforcement setting serve more as the backdrop for romance. In the hectic city of New York, and in the even bigger turmoil of her personal life, Tessa finds herself the object of desire for many potential suitors. Although she tries to maintain her focus on the job she went there to do, the temptations prove to be overwhelming; especially when it comes to detective Walker, who is playing an intense and frustrating game of push and pull. But to what end?

A Case of Need: A Novel by Michael Crichton

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A Case of NeedAn interesting (though somewhat boring book in places) about a young girl who dies or is killed from a botched abortion. At least that is the idea of A Case of Need as we begin working our way through the story. John Berry, a practicing pathologist is alerted to the fact that, Art Lee, an obstetrician friend of his has been arrested. Supposedly Lee performed the abortion that had ended up killing Karen Randall.

It seems that she was brought to Lee by her uncle, Peter Randall, and she requested the procedure. Lee claimed that he told her she was too far along (four months) in her pregnancy and that an abortion could not be performed safely. He says she left and then later died from a botched abortion.

After hearing Lee’s story, Berry gets somewhat crossways with the police, especially a Captain Peterson, when he decides to do some investigating himself. First off he does not believe Lee did it and secondly he realizes that the Randalls are not only an influential family but also a group of well-known doctors that gets their way, one way or another.