Category Archives: Fiction

The Big Lie: A Jack Swyteck Novel by James Grippando

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

It’s time for another Presidential election. A widely-supported, if controversial, incumbent is facing off against a younger, more liberal opponent. As has happened before too many times, the popular vote winner appears to be on the losing end. The final result won’t be known until the Electoral College meets. However, the votes of the electors are governed by a myriad of laws, allowing for the possibility of “faithless” electors. One such elector has just surfaced in Florida and hires Jack Swytek to defend her right to vote her conscience and her fitness to serve , as well as against murder charges. There is a lot more to this case than meets the eye and Swytek will have to pull out all the stops to succeed for his client.

Verona by Jeffery Deaver

Reviewed by Allen Hott

VeronaIn this one Deaver has written an interesting short story about a man being killed in Verona while driving home in his automobile. It turns out that he was Donald Lark, a gangster who commanded a good size portion of the Panhandle territory. That territory was wanted by several other gangs and two in particular.

At the funeral parlor Brendon Nagel and his right hand man scouted out the other potential gangs and leaders as to who might be the other gang looking to take over Lark’s territory. It turns out that the most likely group is led by John Yung and Ki, Yung’s right hand man. Both of them were standing by the casket and eyed Nagel and his man quickly and quietly.

Likely Suspects (Alexis Parker Book 1) by G.K. Parks

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Likely SuspectsPretty good read about Alexis Parker who has been working as an Investigator at the Office of International Operations but has decided to now strike out on her own. Her plan is to do security work or even private detective work. A good friend and former supervisor puts her in touch with a James Martin who is owner and active leader of Martin Technologies. After a somewhat strange interview and stranger introduction to Martin’s secretary, she is hired.

The problem appears to be that some one or more than one someone appears to be attempting to be doing damaging things to James Martin, possibly even killing him. As Alexis begins her new employment she finds that Martin expects her to basically act almost like a girlfriend. At dinner on the first day of employment it seems that several gunmen enter the restaurant and plan a holdup of the diners. Alexis and her former boss (Mark), who is along basically to further the introduction of the two, get the word from Martin to go after the gunmen and see how good the new security head of Martin Technologies really is.

To the Bone (A Kate Reid Novel Book 9) by Robin Mahle

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Takes a lot of cops to go after the bad guy in this one. And the cops range from the regulars from the Boston Police Force, County Police, Massachusetts State Patrol, and even the FBI.

It basically starts with Mike Hawthorne, foreman of a construction site along the Charles River in the Boston area. One of Mike’s men calls him over when as they were digging they spotted a hand in the dirt that they are removing. Needless to say after calling the police the digging is done for the time being and the investigating of the area begins.

Detective Terry King begins the investigating which turns up an entire body. King brings in the Medical Examiner and other police officers. They surmise or at least believe that it is another of the victims of the Charles River massacre that was supposedly done by Whitey Bulger some 25 years previously.

That crime was not actually ever solved as they didn’t know if they were mob deaths or normal citizens who were killed by some maniac. Mostly they were younger women and they all seemed to have other injuries or incidents to their bodies prior to their murders.

Today’s find quickly turns out to also have strange conditions so there are questions. However shortly after the body is found and the digging is stopped yet another body with similar circumstances is found. Strangely booth bodies were not from the vintage of the Charles River massacre. One for sure appears to be of recent times.

Joe’s Odyssey by Nick LaTorre

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

When it comes to a road trip brimming with outrageous escapades and misconduct, Joe’s Odyssey by author Nick LaTorre definitely makes an impression. Fueled by testosterone, the overall narrative refreshes the college road trip genre by taking readers along on an action-filled tale with a quartet of hedonistic, pleasure-seeking friends, which includes adventure on the open seas, world travel, mobsters, hitmen, and college prankster antics.

Frustrated and angst-riddled for middle-aged Joe Kerson, life in general, has him in a bad place, perspectively. He finds himself stuck working for a company at a job with no room for advancement and a boss he deeply resents. Also feeling deeply unhappy with his marriage, he no longer desires intimacy with his wife, as well as being frustrated with the stressful financial necessities of caring for teenaged children. As an escape he finds solace in alcohol and his lamentations at the bar he frequents.

However, one pivotal fateful day, Joe’s boss comes to him with a special assignment to meet with a new potential client, Luciano Galdonchino, (a known mobster) on his yacht. Initially, unenthused, Joe meets Luciano and while witnessing some the aspects of his wealth, power, and success decides to seize the opportunity of a lifetime. Joe pushes Luciano overboard, steals his yacht and money, and thusly embarks on the adventure of his life in the stolen yacht on the open sea. However, Joe does not opt to do this excursion alone; he finds himself a crew of three college friends also acquaintances of his kids, known as the Schmorde, Ron, Pirate, and Brute. Together with this mixed bag of oddball, immature characters, he launches a journey to chaos, danger, sex, drugs, and all-encompassing juvenilistic behavior, making stops in Vegas, San Francisco, and Jamaica. Having no remorse Joe easily keeps the adventure going for months leaving his family and old life behind while occasionally sending a nasty letter to his wife.

Tripwire (Jack Reacher, Book 3) by Lee Child

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A very typical Jack Reacher story by Lee Child and another good one at that! Reacher is the former military man who retired and has spent his life traveling the United States with no money in his pocket. He has a retirement account in the bank and draws out some cash as he needs it. But most of the time he works at odd jobs, picking up enough cash to pay for his room and something to eat as he travels.

He hitchhikes most of the time or sometimes rides a bus or even a train on extreme occasions. His claim to fame is that no matter where he goes he runs into some sort of crime and he usually solves it by himself. He is meaner than a one-eyed mountain lion and can pretty much whip any individual who thinks otherwise.

In Tripwire he though working in south Florida ends up again traveling pretty much all over the country. And he does it this time with a young lady named Jodie Garber. Jodie is the daughter of General Leon Garber who not only was Reacher’s commanding officer at one time but also his best friend and best life trainer that anyone could have. It turns out that Jodie who had an insatiable crush on Reacher years ago is looking for him to help her with a problem. Reacher was also somewhat infatuated with Jodie years ago but being she was the general’s daughter and fifteen years younger than Reacher he did not explore it.

The Precipice: A Novel (Mike Bowditch Mysteries Book 6) by Paul Doiron

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A very good read by Doiron using Mike Bowditch, a Maine game warden. Doiron uses Bowditch quite often probably because not only is he a Yale graduate living in Maine, he also is a Maine Registered Guide and lives on a lake in the area.

In The Precipice Bowditch gets very involved in hunting for two lost women who were supposed to be making the hike along the Appalachian Trail. They disappeared in the Hundred Mile Wilderness which is the most remote stretch of the AT. They had been seen in various spots along the trail but now have seemingly disappeared.

As Bowditch and others who travel this area many things can happen. There are some very steep hills that have to be gotten over and some of them have drop-offs that lead down to various types of water areas. Some believe they may have dropped into one of those and then drowned. But others feel some type of animal may have gotten to them. Strangely most feel they are out there and need help.

Breaking Point: A Novel of the Battle of Britain by John Rhodes

Reviewed by Jim Eaton

I had a feeling I might enjoy this book. It was published on my birthday. Which is, I admit, entirely beside the point but one looks for, or is looked at by, signs, nicht wahr?

I finished reading Breaking Point last night at about 1 a.m. I wasn’t planning to finish it; for the last two weeks, I’ve been enjoying it in snippets. Vignettes, if you prefer. And often it was a lot to take in, mentally and emotionally, if you became invested in the characters, the situations, and the stakes, which I did.

The story is essentially told through the perspectives of an RAF pilot and a girl he once knew in college who early on in the book becomes a key player in Britain’s development of strategic defense. They are both quite young—in their twenties, if I read right—and both under a tremendous amount of strain, albeit of different varieties. Eleanor has been tasked, due to her extraordinary brain and capacity for applied mathematics and logic, with assisting the powers that be in their analysis of the Luftwaffe’s attack on southern England. John Shaux is tasked with flying his Spitfire, killing as many of the Luftwaffe as he can, eventually leading his squadron (of which most perish with alarming regularity), and staying alive.

Only the first of these comes easily to him; the man does love to fly.

I read a review of this book on Amazon that poo-poo’ed it because it contained too much romance, too much love. This from a reviewer who admitted plainly he had not read the book (!). And there was romance, I agree. But not of the sort one would expect. Sure, Eleanor and John end up together in some fashion. I ruin nothing for the reader by including that spoiler, however, because their romance is incidental. Instead, the central romance in this book occurs between the author and Great Britain. This story could not have been told without a deep, passionate love of country, not to mention history, and an unwavering admiration for the few humans who defended, against insane odds, the most heinous military power this world has, to date, ever seen.

Murder, She Wrote: A Time for Murder by Jessica Fletcher & Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

“It’s just that the research I did turned up a murder where you used to live, where you were an English teacher.”
“There was a murder, and someone was arrested, yes, Kristi.”
“Were you the one who caught him, Mrs. Fletcher?”

That exchange, between Jessica Fletcher and a young woman she thinks is a reporter from the local high school newspaper, forms the heart of A Time for Murder, the 50th entry in the iconic Murder, She Wrote series. Jon Land, current series shepherd, has chosen to celebrate that milestone by taking us where no reader (or viewer, for that matter) has ever gone before: into Jessica’s past, specifically twenty-five years back in time, and the result is nothing short of a smashing, slam-dunk success unrivalled in the annuls of literary pop culture.

Jessica’s still married to a much alive husband Frank. And they’re raising their eight-year-old nephew Grady at the time, as she tries to carve out a career as a high school English teacher while struggling to get published.

“Is this a mystery?” one of her students asks, as the class dissects one of Jessica’s own short stories that she distributed anonymously.

It’s not supposed to be, but that gets her thinking, as does the murder of the beloved high school principal who was just about to hire her full-time. An office mishap is suspected at first, until Jessica displays her keen powers of observation for the first time while working with Appleton Maine’s only detective, none other than future Cabot Cove sheriff Amos Tupper.

But that flashback to the past is only part of Land’s fourth, and best, effort in the series so far. In the present, the high school reporter for whom Jessica granted an interview turns out not to be a reporter at all; in fact, she’s not even in high school. And when she turns up murdered herself after badgering Jessica about that murder in neighboring Appleton, we’re off to the races on a dead sprint that swiftly reveals a clear connection between these two killings separated by twenty-five years.

73 Things To Do Before I Kill Myself: A Love Story by Doc Longfellow

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

There are at least 73 reasons to read Doc Longfellow’s book, but I will only stop on the highlights. 73 Things To Do Before I Kill Myself: A Love Story is a witty and suspenseful account of a man’s downfall and his struggle to pick up the pieces and reconstruct himself.

Everyone knows a Duncan Jones, he is your friend, colleague or neighbor; he is also the main protagonist of the novel. A pretty nice guy, by all accounts, blossoming in all areas of life: love, career, friendships… or at least until the unimaginable happens and he quits his job and ends a relationship with someone that should have been the one.

So, what next?

Nothing. There is nothing to keep Duncan going.

But as he succumbs to his early end he stumbles upon a bucket list from his childhood. While, this will not be a sufficient incentive in itself to change his mind, at least he postpones the due date until the completion of the list. Although there were originally 100 items on it, as you might have guessed from the title, only 73 remain. It has it all: stealing a street sign, bungee jumping, the Simpsons marathon… but one entry in particular poses a great challenge to Duncan, asking out his first love. For this, he must return to his hometown, revisit friends and console the past with the present.