Category Archives: Suspense

The Guardians by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

John Grisham has done it again! The Guardians is another of his very interesting looks at law and the practice thereof. Grisham himself was an attorney in Southern Mississippi back before he became a famous writer, for books like Time to Kill and The Firm. And then even after his writing skills became known, in 1996 he went back to the courtroom and, as an attorney, won a case for his clients that totaled over six hundred and eighty thousand dollars. However The Guardians is proof positive of his ability as a writer!

Cullen Post and several other attorneys work in what is called Guardian Ministries. It is a very small firm that is based on religious beliefs and works on getting prisoners out of jail. The inmates they work to free are basically those who have been found guilty of a crime by a court that didn’t necessarily have all the facts. Or at least did not have them correct.

Most of those that The Guardians try to help are on death row or at least have been in prison for a very long period of time with no hope of release. Post is a lawyer and also an Episcopalian minister. He is presently working for Quincy Miller who has been in jail for over 20 years for a murder that was committed in North Florida.

Under Currents: A Novel by Nora Roberts

Reviewed by Allen Hott

To think that all of this happened in a small hill town in North Carolina makes you realize how great a writer Nora Roberts is. She follows various people in the town (mostly relatives of one another) as they go about their lives but the really good part is when she puts the reader into the shoes of those who suffered and some who actually died.

Begins with a wealthy family but the family is headed by a very strange rich man. He seems to enjoy sex with his wife (had several children) but seems as though he likes beating her physically more than he enjoys sex. And then she also tends to get into the fighting part as she fights back. Then together at various times they also beat their children. And that is their downfall!

They are arrested. She gets a fairly light sentence but he, because of the severity of the beatings and the continuity of them, gets a very severe sentence. His children move on with their lives and Zane, his son, becomes an attorney and stays close to his sister.

They have moved away to a small town where they are both moving along with their lives with the help of several extended relatives and also locals in the area. Zane does well in his profession and becomes close with the chief of police. Zane had always carried a baseball with him as he had played all of his life and had dreams of making it to the big leagues.

The Guilty by David Baldacci

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Quite a beginning to this one as Will Robie, a professional top-grade sniper for the CIA, is waiting to get off his shot at an intended target. Although he has been doing this for some time he never actually knows who the target is or why that person is the target. He only knows what his orders are and he has always obeyed and then fulfilled his orders.

This one turns out differently and changes Robie’s life drastically. Yes, his shot is perfect and he hits and kills his target. However as he looks on from his perch he notices that behind his target was a young girl who was completely covered by the target until the bullet went through the target and right into the little girl’s head killing her also!

Robie does get away from the shooting area but he can’t get over the feeling of what he has done. His supervisor understands and tries to help out by not only helping to console him but also by granting some time off so he can get hopefully back together and return to his position.

But as it turns out on his next assignment Robie doesn’t take the shot because he believes he sees a small boy on the scene. Turns out there was no boy and Robie’s supervisor definitely decides it is time to give him a break.

His supervisor also tells him that they have gotten word that Robie’s dad, Dan Robie, has been charged with murder down in Mississippi. At first Robie doesn’t seem to care as he and his dad have not spoken since Robie left Mississippi some years ago and they were never overly friendly or close. But Baldacci uses the murder, etc. to move the story not only to Mississippi but also to move the story into a truly great read.

The Stranger in the Mirror by Liv Constantine

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Imagine yourself with no memory of your identity. This is the situation in which Addison finds herself in The Stranger in the Mirror. Any recollections about her life, before she was rescued by benevolent strangers, are gone. Addison currently lives in Philadelphia and is engaged to be married. She is experiencing fleeting moments of perturbing images. She wonders if memories are trying to break through into her conscious awareness, or if her imagination is conjuring the images. At the same time Addison is dealing with amnesia and its effects on herself and others, another person is facing challenging circumstances. Julian’s wife disappeared without a trace, and Julian has made it his number one priority to track her down. He lives in the Boston suburbs with his seven-year-old daughter. When Julian shows up and claims Addison is his wife, lives are thrown into upheaval. Is Julian’s allegation true? Remembrances of Julian and his daughter elude Addison. What does it mean for Addison and her fiancé? Will Addison stay in Philadelphia or try and embrace her supposedly past life? Will Addison ever recover her memories?

Deadly Anniversaries: A Collection of Stories from Crime Fiction’s Top Authors

Reviewed by Allen Hott

This is a very interesting concept to writing a book on mysteries, etc. in short form. There are a total of nineteen short stories written by some of today’s top writers. And basically each story is centered about some type of anniversary. The writers include Jeffery Deaver, Lee Child, Sue Grafton, and other notables.

“If You Want Something Done Right” tells of how a woman who wants out of her marriage pulls off various attempts but none work because he figures them out quickly. However he does become overly involved himself in how to protect himself and guess what? You got it right. Now read the story (and book)
to get the whole story. Sue Grafton put that one together and it is good.

“Ten Years On” is about an Indian nurse who is drawn to a dead soldier’s brother and it has a very strange ending.

Lee Child wrote “Normal In Every Way” that tells of a very slow thinking clerk who while working in police headquarters uses anniversary dates of various murders and ties them together in such a fashion as to help solve some crimes that have gone unsolved.

Fade Away (Myron Bolitar Novel) by Harlan Coben

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Myron Bolitar has been one of the main characters in several of Coben’s books and in Fade Away he again comes to the forefront. The last team Bolitar played for (he is/was a pro basketball player) was the New Jersey Dragons owned by Clip Arnstein. Clip now has called Myron and asked him to not only find Greg Downing, a top Dragon player, but he also wants Myron to rejoin the team in Greg’s spot. Myron had never actually gotten to play in any regular season games due to his injury.

Strangely enough Greg was the cause of Myron’s severe injury which caused him to quit playing. But now Greg is missing and Clip needs help. He feels Myron as an investigator could be a help in finding Greg but also help as a former player returning to the court. Myron decides to give it a shot although he is very leery of his ability due to the injury.

Hit the Road Jack by Willow Rose

Reviewed by Allen Hott

I thought that this was a follow up to Slip out the Back by the same author and it was. BUT it was not a good follow up. It is a terrible book all the way through. It had high spots and I thought I would keep at it but overall it was not a good read.

It was about Jack who is raising his kids with the help of his parents who own a motel right next to Jack’s house. He is a detective and is searching for someone who is killing women he assumes. Sometimes he finds bodies and sometimes not. But all the women turn out to be women who have lived their lives having affairs with men all around.

The book is too long, too many characters, and has too many loose ends.

Overall it is just a poorly written book as far as I am concerned.

Blue Moon: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child

Reviewed by Allen Hott

By now if you have read Jack Reacher stories by Lee Child you are aware of how they start out. Reacher is traveling (always) and going nowhere in particular but he doesn’t want to stay in any one place very long. As a retired military police officer he feels he has seen the world in that capacity and so now
he wants to see it as an individual. Never travels with someone, always alone, and never really trying to get somewhere in particular. He just likes to move around, meet people and see different locations.

It turns out that the area where Reacher ended up on this bus ride was a municipality that basically was split in two halves. One half was run by the Ukrainians and the other by Albanians. Each leader kept control over his area and didn’t mess at all in the opposite area. About the time Reacher got there it appears that there is about to be a blow-up of some type between the two groups but no one knows exactly why. And Reacher is completely unaware of the situation for the time being.

The Last Agent (Charles Jenkins Book 2) by Robert Dugoni

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Robert Dugoni is a good author and in The Last Agent he has continued (I would not say completed) the ongoing story of Charles Jenkins, former CIA agent. Jenkins is the type of person who accomplishes much but he does always seem to rely on others to give him lots of help. This story pretty much shows how Jenkins though retired and now living at home with his family, cannot stop returning those previous favors. A current CIA supervisor shows up at Jenkins’ door and after several conversations about the CIA and Russia the agent drops a bomb! Literally not figuratively. He explains that a Russian woman who worked with seven other women for the United States as spies in Russia is still alive and imprisoned by the Russians.The name of the woman. Paulina Ponomayova immediately gets Jenkins’ attention. Paulina is the person who helped Jenkins escape from Russia years ago.

Jenkins thought so much of Paulina and her assistance that he named his daughter after her. The thought of her now being held in isolation in Russia very much disturbs him. With the consent of his wife and her prayers Jenkins with help from the CI A heads back into Russia to see how he can somehow get Paulina out of isolation and to the United States or the free world. To make this work Jenkins begins not only working with the CIA but also certain Russians that he had known and worked with while over there. One of them is Viktor Federov who at one time was Jenkins’ arch enemy.

Widowmaker: A Novel (Mike Bowditch Mysteries Book 7) by Paul Dorion

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Mike Bowditch, a Maine game warden, notices an automobile pull up and park opposite his house which is pretty well tucked away in the deep outskirts of an off the road town named Sebago. Even though at first he is somewhat confused by why the driver parked there he becomes much more confused after her goes out to the car. At first the woman driving kind of puts off telling him why she is there by saying she needs to use a restroom.

But when she does actually begin talking sense to Mike she explains that she, Amber Langstrom, had some years ago had an affair with Mike’s father. Mike could believe this because he and his father never got along due to his father’s style of living. Now however she is looking for Adam Langstrom the son that came from that affair.

It seems that Adam is missing and his mother is hopeful that Mike will be willing to help find the person who appears to be his half-brother. As she explains more of the story it turns out that Adam had been sent to a minimum security prison for having sex with a fifteen year old girl when he was 18. He has since been released but she cannot find him as he has basically not only hidden from her but is probably living with the girl in some unknown hideaway.

She pleads with Mike to hunt for him and help her straighten Adam out since they are related (according to her). Mike explains that he cannot do anything full time since his work as a game warden more than keeps him busy especially in the severe winter that Maine is suffering. He does say that he will ask around and keep his eyes/ears open for possible information.

After Mike gets back to work and talks with his girlfriend, Stacey, it seems that Stacey thinks he should do more to help find his half-brother. However at about the same time Mike gets very involved not only with helping folks out with problems due to the terrific winter but he also gets word that a wolf has been spotted. Supposedly there are no wolves in Maine as they have been pretty well eliminated and are outlawed due to their demeanor and effect on other wild life. Turns out that Mike pretty well adopts the wolf that he went to check on since Shadow, the wolf, became very friendly with Mike.

That part of the story goes on while Mike now gets involved with other problems. These problems occur in the extremely mountainous wilderness of Maine. And they involve sexual predators who are actually living in a colony that is tucked away in the woods. However there are also vigilante-type folks

who want no part of the predators and work to not only keep them contained but also hopefully eradicated.

While Mike is doing all of his work around Widowmaker (the name of not only a monstrous mountain that is always covered in deep snow drifts but also a small town in the area), things get very involved with the predator squabble. And all of this goes on while Stacey has gotten herself quite mixed up in her daily life while working at her government job.

Overall a great read with lots of various plots, various characters, and some really great descriptions of what winter/snow is like in Maine. Doiron continues to write well with Bowditch as his main character who is always involved in various happenings!