Category Archives: Thriller

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.

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.

Toward the Light by Bonnar Spring

Reviewed by James Eaton

This is a well-written book that, for the most part, impresses and engages, and here and there, strains credulity.

I suppose I’d also label it something of a slow burn, so as thrillers go, not substantially thrilling unless you put in the time. So put in the time. Patience rewards here.

Note: If you have seen and worshipped “The Princess Bride” as I have, you might need to take a pill to wipe Inigo Montoya from your memory banks, or you may find that wry swordsman haunting you, particularly at points in the story where I’m sure the writer of this novel did not envision invoking Mandy Patinkin.

Now that that’s out of the way, I will say that I, ultimately, enjoyed “Toward the Light.” The details, always in abundance, were essential to the illustration of the Guatemalan setting. I don’t feel, having just finished the book, that I’ve been to Guatemala, but I am quite sure the characters lived their lives and made their choices there, and that is what matters.

Lies She Never Told Me: A Novel (Historical Fiction Book 3) by John Ellsworth

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A historical type story that begins on the Great Lakes in July of 1915 when an excursion steamer capsizes and sinks. Hundreds of people are thrown into the water and many drown. However quite a few are saved and many by Knowles Graham a seventeen year old who jumped from his motorcycle right into the water to help out.

Strangely enough his bike and clothes had already caught the eyes of a group of “not too law abiding” cops. They ended up stopping Knowles and not only arrested him but pretty well beat the tar out of him before throwing him in jail. Shortly thereafter the same cops brought in another young man and threw him into the cell with Knowles after beating him pretty badly also. Knowles gave a lot of aid to the new man and together they made it through the night.

The other young man was Alphonse Capone who would later in life again run into Knowles Graham when they were each on opposite sides of the law. Knowles through some more good work that he does in saving a cop becomes not only a cop but moves all the way up through the system of government to eventually become Senator Graham from Illinois.

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.

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.

Choice Cut (The Cut Series Book 3) by Arnold Eslava-Grünwaldt

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Book three in his penetrating “Cut” series, Choice Cut by author Arnold Eslava-Grünwaldt dispenses to readers yet another fast-paced, and intensely exciting addition to his well-received crime thriller series, within which, he capably continues to delve into the activities of the criminally debauched in Yonkers, New York, and the skilled team of detectives that pursue them and bring them to justice.

Maintaining the pace of excitement, drama, and thrills author Grünwaldt artfully continues the general storyline from book two, populated with most of the same characters, particularly the resilient and tough, Detective Sergeant Hamilcar Hitchcock and members of his general assignment squad. With a challenging mystery brewing, the story moves quickly and flawlessly into new and twisted scenarios calling for Sergeant Hitchcock and his team to move into action.

This time, the story starts out with members of the general assignment squad finding themselves coming to terms with the end result of their previous investigation which led to the nearly fatal shooting of a revered fellow officer and the unfortunate and temporary loss of another valued officer. However, the thrills and twists are just beginning with the discovery of a recently deceased male who may possibly be the casualty of a serial killer known as “The Butcher” whose victims are referred to as “one of the butcher’s cuts.”

A Dangerous Duet: A Novel by Karen Odden

Reviewed by Jim Eaton

This novel is a romantic thriller of sorts, set in London in 1875.

It concerns the comings and goings of one Nell Hallam, a young pianist whose chief desire is to study piano at the Royal Academy. At story’s open, she is employed three evenings a week at the Octavian, providing accompaniment for the various acts (magicians, jugglers, singers, trapeze artists, etc.), disguised as a man named Ed. As a woman, she’d be paid for less to play, if she were allowed to play at all.

Her position permits her access to a host of shady characters, some of which might not the scrutiny of her family physician, who fears for her mental health (her mother was manic-depressive), or her older brother, who is employed as a detective by Scotland Yard. Her daytime world bears little resemblance to her gig at the Octavian, and Nell does her dear best to keep these worlds apart, with, as one might expect, dwindling levels of success as we get deeper into story. Organized crime, corrupt coppers, sniveling schemers, sympathetic rogues, and several Dickensian tropes hop about, all bent on ruining Nell’s days and Ed’s nights.

The yarn pulls one along, no doubt. Odden deftly navigates London of the time with the confidence of a tour guide, reminding me at times of a certain Irish author whose creations stumbled and bloomed about Dublin, those they were notably burdened by a relentless ineluctable cavalcade of proto-post modern modalities and odysseys the likes of which Odden chooses to eschew. Instead, she strides forward and through in the manner of perhaps Ann Radcliffe and the Inimitable Boz himself. Her sense of place, of putting in a scene, made me wish to act (as I sometimes badly do) in a production with her as the director or at least set designer. The specificity of imagery is at times remarkable. The actions are equally excellent.