Category Archives: Thriller

Strong As Steel (Caitlin Strong Novels) by Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

Strong As SteelThe tenth time is clearly the charm for the in dominatable Jon Land whose decennial effort in his Caitlin Strong series, Strong as Steel, cements his Texas Ranger’s status as the best female protagonist in thriller fiction today and maybe ever.

The high-octane plot features the classic thriller staple of a long buried, and of course deadly, secret being unearthed, this time from the Texas desert. Caitlin’s father Jim Strong, apparently, was somehow involved in burying three shipping crates there twenty-five years before as part of a case he was working on. Indeed, a particular staple of this series is the seamless intermixing of the past and the present, with Caitlin picking up on a trail left by one of her ancestors. It was William Faulkner who said, “The past isn’t dead, it’s not even past.” Well, nothing describes Strong as Steel better than that, with “dead” being the operative word.

But Caitlin isn’t the only one on the trail of the contents of those three crates; far from it, in fact. Hot on their trail, and hers, is Molinari, an especially maniacal head of an especially fanatical band of religious zealots out to safeguard a two-thousand-year-old secret at all costs. Being once set ablaze by his enemies has left Molinari almost literally faceless and he has long pursued his quest with a degree of violence and rage befitting the grotesque he’s become.

Splinter in the Blood: A Novel Blood (Carver and Lake) by Ashley Dyer

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Splinter in the BloodHave you ever noticed that murderers who have a touch of creativity in their killings seem to be remembered by a particular nickname making them more infamous? The Son of Sam, The Zodiac Killer, and Jack the Ripper are only a few with this notorious distinction. Add to this list now is The Thorn Killer who slowly poisons his victims from a poisonous ink tattooed to their bodies with thorns, instead of needles. This unusual technique creates the Splinter in the Blood.

Imagine a murder where the hunter becomes the hunted. That is Splinter in the Blood.

Detective Greg Carver is in the sitting room of his home. He has blood on him, obviously from being shot in the chest. His partner, Detective Sergeant Ruth Lake is holding a 1911 Colt pistol. She quickly places the gun, files, posters about The Thorn Killer grabbing anything connected with the case and carrying it to the trunk of her car. All evidence is always left at the police station, not at the lead detective’s home. As she wipes the house of fingerprints, she notices that there seems to be some movement from Greg’s eyes. Could he be alive?

Edge: A Novel by Jeffery Deaver

Reviewed by Allen Hott

EdgeQuite a bit of a different story overall and pretty good except that Corte, the hero, seems to be overly involved with game playing. And mostly board games as he is constantly referring to them or how they are played while he goes about his business.

Corte’s business is working as a undercover federal agent as a shepherd or guard over people who have been targeted by lifters. Lifters are criminals who hunt down (for a price) individuals, who one way or another, have become knowledgeable about a person’s indiscretions. The particular lifter in Edge is a gentleman named Henry Loving and Corte has seen how he works. Loving had recently killed Corte’s buddy and co-worker after using inhumane torture on the man.

Now it appears that Loving is after a D.C. cop named Ryan Kessler and it is up to Corte to protect Kessler and his family. This means he will take them often from one safe house to another and all the while protecting them and their whereabouts from Loving.

In Her Bones: A Novel by Kate Moretti

Reviewed by Allen Hott

In Her BonesThis is a very different book. Edie Beckett, the daughter of Lilith Wade, has a hard time understanding and accepting her mother’s killing instincts. Supposedly Lilith has killed as many as five different women and possibly more. She is now in prison on death row and Edie’s brain seems to be deteriorating every day because of the whole situation.

Edie can’t seem to get enough of the families that have been hurt by her mother’s actions. However as she begins getting closer to them (under pretenses of course) she discovers many things.

In most cases Edie pretty well stays away from too close a contact because she doesn’t want them to know who she is. She actually becomes so infatuated however with one of the men that she meets up with him and things go very far.

Other than that one Edie does seem to just hover in the background scoping the families out. And all the time Edie’s own brain appears to be getting more and more confused. She begins having problems staying in touch with her own brother with whom she has been very close her whole life.

Not too unusual is the breakup, however, as her brother is also having many problems with his own thinking and behaving. The two of them do remain somewhat close, in a strange way, up to the end when everything appears to be falling apart between them.

That breakup at first seems to be really bothering Edie but she not only moves on pretty much on her own but she seems to almost be getting better in some of her actions.

However when she does hook up with that one man from her mother’s past everything seems to not fall apart but actually blow up. And none of it is good for Edie.

Quite a book overall, that I attempted several times to put down and quit reading. Mainly because of all the different characters who kept popping up. Not only did they seem to appear for no reason but they also did not seem to fit in the part of the story where they appeared.

I am not sure that I would recommend this one but also not sure that I would degrade it. So much of it turned out very well in the end but it seems like there were lots of problems getting to that place. Give it a good read (don’t quit on it) and see what your thoughts are!

Vicious Circle by Wilbur Smith

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Vicious CircleA somewhat different book that holds your interest if parts of it don’t drive you away! Hector Cross lived a life of high risks and actual warfare and then he met and married Hazel Bannock. Hazel was the daughter of the founder of Bannock Oil which was one of the largest refinery type businesses in the English Empire. Hazel had previously lost a daughter from a previous marriage but was now pregnant with a daughter to be by Henry. All seemed to be going well until she was brutally murdered while out driving her Ferrari as Hector followed in his Land Rover.

He was able to get two of the criminals who were involved in Hazel’s shooting but one of them got away. This thus became his passion to find not only that one but the entire group that was behind this killing.

Hardball (V.I. Warshawski Novel) by Sarah Paretsky

Reviewed by Allen Hott

HardballThis is quite a story. V.I. Warshawski (known as Vi) is a private detective who is asked to find out what happened to Lamont Gadsden by his aunt. Lamont has been missing for over 40 years. Though his own mother has no hope or desire to find out where or if Lamont is alive, his aunt “hires” Vi to do some searching.

Having worked for the police department and being the daughter of a deceased police officer, Vi does have the ability to do some very extensive searching. Her searching is not restricted to the Chicago Police Department but because of private investigating she is able to get into many areas to delve for information.

Many things happen to Vi though as she begins looking and most of them are pretty scary. There are also people killed and in so of these cases Vi feels it has occurred because of her investigation.

Further clouding up the picture is the arrival in town of her young cousin, Petra, who moved up from Kansas City to be closer to her father, Peter. As the story grows more and more involved it appears that somehow even Peter has some knowledge of the missing Lamont. And Petra, who really admires Vi, gets more and more involved in the whole picture.

Dead Man Switch by Matthew Quirk

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Dead Man SwitchWithout a doubt there is plenty of action in this one. John Hayes is a retired special ops agent for the U.S. government but it seems that he and many former ops agents never retire. They claim to do so and the government claims they are gone but they continue to operate under cover. No one except a few at the very top of the U.S. security system knows how it all works.

This story starts as Hayes is working undercover amongst some Pakistani undercover agents when several U.S. special ops agents are caught by the Pakistani group. One of the special ops agents recognizes Hayes who actually pretends as though he is going to kill the agents. But instead Hayes turns on the Pakistanis and poof the U.S. guys kind of get away. Well, not exactly as the two agents are both pretty well beaten up in their escape. Hayes is even covered by a snow drift caused by the rescuing helicopter’s downdraft.

Hayes is pretty well frozen when he himself is rescued by his boss who pulled all stops to find him and get him back to the U.S. He is supposed to go back into retirement officially but since he is and has always been undercover he is still on call to the top dogs in Washington.

What Remains of Her: A Novel by Eric Rickstad

Reviewed by Teri Davis

What Remains of HerWhen a mother and her daughter disappear, who is the likely suspect? Naturally, most law enforcement would accuse the husband. There is a catch, the husband is a professor of poetry at a local college and seems to sincerely miss both every second of every day. No clues, no evidence, the two seemed to have disappeared from the planet.

Jonah Blum sees his world ripped from him when his beautiful wife, Rebecca and his daughter, Sally vanish. A family of three become a lonesome one. The community along with the media, immediately throw guilty verdicts at Jonah, but there is no evidence, just circumstances.

Jonah’s long-time friends, Maurice immediately enlisted the help of his deputies in the search. Also, questioned was Sally’s best friend, Lucinda, who also happens to be Maurice’s daughter.

Jonah leaves his home and lives as a hermit. For a quarter of a century, life for him is simply survival in a cabin in the nearby woods.

The Emerald Cave (A Vince Ramsey Adventure) by James McPike

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

The Emerald CaveMinistry of Jerusalem investigator Vince Ramsey is assigned to find an arms dealer who may be connected to a theft at archaeological dig in Lebanon. Ramsey’s investigation takes him and his girlfriend to France in pursuit of a way to find him. They find out that the arms dealer is pursuing a powerful artifact supposedly found by the Nazis and hidden in Antarctica. Ramsey heads to Antarctica, only to discover that someone has beat him there and has discovered the exact location of the artifact. It’s now a race against time to stop an ancient weapon from being used against the world.

The Good and the Dead by Seymour Shubin

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Good and the DeadSomewhat similar and yet different. Ben Newman, who is a writer of true-detective stories, has “seen” a lot of different murder scenes and written about the culprits and victims. However as strange as it seems all of this kind of comes home to haunt him as he begins noticing some unusual happenings around his small world.

Starting out with the unusual death of his brother’s wife, Pat, who is found dead floating fully clothed on top of the water in their backyard pool. There doesn’t seem to be any motive nor does there seem to be any real evidence as to who did this. Naturally his brother is suspect but Ben doesn’t believe it to be the case.

Shortly thereafter there are several more deaths of people that Ben has known since grade school. One is a pharmacist, George Havern, who supposedly committed suicide although again the evidence doesn’t seem to really prove that either. Then Ellen Packler-Woods, who had just met and talked with Ben about the deaths of George and Pat, is found dead in her basement from possibly a fall but again nothing is proven.