Category Archives: Thriller

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.

Caged to Kill: A Different Gripping Stand-Alone Thriller Novel (Lawyer David Thompson Legal Thrillers Series Book 2) by Tom Swyers

Reviewed by Allen Hott

In answering a tapping knock on his door one evening, David Thompson discovers Phillip Dawkins. He recognizes Dawkins because Thompson, as an attorney, had had some dealings with Dawkins while Dawkins was in prison. Thompson is quickly afraid and threatens to call the police. Dawkins asks him to check the latest news to see that he (Dawkins) had been freed from prison under something called the Innocence Project.

Although he had not only been in prison but actually he had been in solitary confinement for killing a police officer. However how after thirty some years the state was releasing some prisoners as a gesture toward “bettering the entire process”. That gesture appears later to be false!

Phillip had been corresponding with David at one time but after too many lengthy letters David stopped writing. Phillip said however he understood but he knew no one else in this general area and hoped that David could give him a hand or a restart in life outside of prison.

Keep Your Eyes on the Flag by Lucille F. Burgio

Reviewed by Allen Hott

It appears that there is something desperately wrong about a particular candidate who is running for President of the United States. Not only are there several folks who have come out claiming he is a fraud and a fake. But now there have been several instances of snipers shooting at spectators shortly after he has presented one of his campaign speeches to a large mass. Keep Your Eyes on the Flag seems to be Upton’s way of diminishing his own efforts or self.

The current president, who does dislike this candidate, believes that he has to use his staff to find out more about the individual and also about the shootings. He appoints two of his top staff members to dig into not only the shootings but definitely into the presidential candidate-hopeful.

As they dig deeply into the past they find several former POWs and other soldiers who served with Ashe Lipton Upton, that candidate. Strangely enough all of these veterans also believe that something is going on. Upton (the name he goes by) was definitely a POW in Germany and suffered all types of wounds and disfigurements. However there were others who did also. Several of them believe that somehow this man calling himself Upton actually took the place of the real wounded POW named Upton. How he did it and what happened to the original Upton is the question.

The Mother-In-Law by Kiersten Modglin

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The very short book starts with a Prologue which gives the reader a bit of an idea of what is going to happen. But! Why, when, how, and “oh my gosh’ is all wrapped up in the book’s telling. And it is a good telling.

Loren is out walking with her four year old daughter when Rynlee, the daughter, pulls away from Loren’s hand. Rynlee is off chasing a dog and as she catches up to him she drops her ice cream cone which the dog quickly gobbles up. Then the dog’s owner, a man about Loren’s age, comes up and begins to apologize. Loren stops him and says it was Rynlee’s problem and not to worry.

The man, Jack, quickly introduces himself and takes them across the street to his bar or shop, as he calls it. And with that Jack and Loren seem destined to become a perfect pair. Actually they do and meet up with just a few unfortunate incidents that always seem to be triggered by Jack’s mother,

Before we meet Jack’s mother though, another character, Meredith, is brought into the picture. It turns out that she is Loren’s slightly older cousin and she is very close to Loren. Readers need to remember her name because she also plays an important part in the book!

An Equal Justice (David Adams Book 1) by Chad Zunker

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

David Adams is the quintessential rags to riches story. He grew up in a poor family and thru hard work managed to not only go to college but obtain a law degree from Stanford. He is looking forward to his new job at a prestigious Austin law firm. He is shocked to learn that a fellow associate he drove home after a company dinner has been found dead in his home. The associate’s last words to David were a warning to get out while he could. David soon realizes that all is not as it seems at his company. David is determined to find the truth but soon realizes that in doing so he may pay the ultimate price.

Almost Midnight: A Novel (Mike Bowditch Mysteries Book 10) by Paul Doiron

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Mike Bowditch, the Maine Game Warden Investigator, is on his way to the prison to see Billy Cronk, his longtime friend. Mike still feels he owes Billy because when two guys tried to kill both Mike and Billy. Billy was so enraged he beat the one guy to death so even though it was self-defense he did get sentenced to five years.

When Mike visits Billy he is asked by Billy to investigate a new prison guard who was transferred in by the governor. It seems that Billy now feels there is something going on among some of the guards and a few prisoners. He thinks maybe she is possibly there to sniff it out but then again she may be part of it. He wants to know so as to protect her if she is one of the good guys. Mike agrees and says he will look into it if he can.

Shortly after Mike leaves a major battle takes place in the prison and several people (including a guard) are killed. Billy is beaten up pretty bad but still alive. This adds to his theory and inspires Mike to begin looking into the problem. Because not only Billy but the new female guard are in the hospital due to the battle that went on.

The Subway by Dustin Stevens

Reviewed by Allen Hott

An interesting book although a bit long, especially in places, due to number of characters. Also lots of words lost in description as author builds places and things for happening. The story is totally believable especially in today’s world.

Tim Scarberry is in Government Witness Protection because he had given witness against a gangster, Eric Bannister, then during the trial and later his incarceration Bannister and his brother with two accomplices worked on a plan to get ahold of Scarberry for retaliation.

A female police officer, Talula Davis, found the body of Scarberry’s uncle where he had been brutally murdered by the Bannister group. She was fairly new on the job and was having a tough time with her supervisor who it appears did not want any women in his crew. Strangely enough at about the same time Scarberry was being checked on by his officer in charge of him, Deputy Marshal Abby Lipski. One major difference is that Scarberry and Lipski were in Washington where he had been sent to live in the Protection Program while his dad and Officer Davis were in Georgia.

My Sister’s Grave (Tracy Crosswhite Book 1) by Robert Dugoni

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Two very close sisters compete in everything with the younger one, Sarah, usually losing. However after a shooting competition twenty years ago that Tracy lost to Sarah, Sarah went one way and Tracy the other. Sarah however was never seen again until now when her remains were found in a partial grave.

It has bothered Tracy for all these years because Sarah, though she won the contest, had given the first prize to Tracy to make her feel good. What she didn’t realize is that not only did the gesture hurt Tracy’s feelings but then the next day Sarah would not be found.

Tracy had left the small town and was working as a detective in Seattle. When the news gets to her that some of Sarah’s body had been found Tracy heads back to the small town to see if somehow she can be of assistance in solving the mystery. She is doing it more for herself than for the people of the small town.

In the Heart of the Fire (Nameless Book 1) by Dean Koontz

Reviewed by Allen Hott

One interesting, but short, story by Koontz with a lot of his typical writing. He seems to always kind of write about the super natural or else spooky kind of scary stories that hold your attention and leave you wondering!

In the Heart of the Fire a guy who has some sort of amnesia is working for some type of organization that is run by the Ace of Diamonds. Although the amnesiac calls himself Ben Shepherd, the Ace has got him booked on transportation and in hotels as Alex Hurkos. (Throughout the book no revelation is made as to what caused his amnesia and why is he working for the Ace, who is also unknown throughout).

After arriving in a little town in Texas he checks into his hotel and retrieves information, money, and a revolver that he puts into his pocket. He has dinner and settles in for the evening wondering what all is going to happen tomorrow. During the night he receives several text messages with two names and three addresses.

Cheater’s Game (Jake Lassiter Legal Thrillers) by Paul Levine

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

Getting into your dream college can be tough. You have to have the right grades, the right extra-curricular activities and the right score on the SAT. But what if someone could take the SAT for you, for a price? Jake Lassiter, former NFL star turned lawyer, has a nephew offering exactly that service. For the right price, Kip will guarantee a score within the range needed for admission. This service is exactly what gets him in deep water when his “partner” turns him in exchange for leniency.