Search

Mayhem, Murder and Marijuana: The Los Angeles Marijuana War by Arik Kaplan

Reviewed by Ray Palen

Mayhem, Murder and MarijuanaThe back cover of this novel tells a story almost as chilling as the one found between the covers. The author — Arik Kaplan is a pseudonym to maintain his true identity— literally lived this story. In 2011, immediately following the relaxing of laws in the State of California allowing medicinal marijuana dispensaries to open, he began aggressively purchasing legal medical marijuana locations in Los Angeles county.

The problem with things that sound too good to be true is that they usually are — or, at the very least, they come at a big price. ‘Kaplan’ found out that his involvement in this new industry was the literal equivalent of drawing a target on his own back. If he went through even a smidgen of what the characters in his novel experience it is indeed a wonder he lived to tell this tale.

MAYHEM, MURDER AND MARIJUANA: The Los Angeles Marijuana War makes “Boyz In the Hood” look like an episode of “Sanford and Son”. The fact that our humble author has received death threats at the mere thought of revealing what is contained in this book speaks to his and the stories credibility. Read the rest of this entry »

Deep Freeze (A Virgil Flowers Novel) by John Sandford

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Deep FreezeJohn Sandford takes one of his favorite characters, Virgil Flowers, back to Trippton, Minnesota where Flowers has worked in his capacity as an agent for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation in previous books. His last visit was when Virgil busted up a crime ring that somehow was created and run by a crooked school board. Virgil hadn’t made a lot of friends at that time but he did have a few who believed he did the right thing.

This time however it involves a female president of the local bank who was found floating in the Mississippi which was actually pretty much frozen over. The woman was pretty much clothed except for having on only one shoe and it was actually twisted on the wrong foot! Read the rest of this entry »

Broken Chord: A Music Row Mystery by Alice A. Jackson

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Broken ChordAlice A. Jackson’s Broken Chord: A Music Row Mystery, offers a compelling collaboration of love betrayal, passion, intrigue, and murder set in Nashville’s famous Music Row.

Captivating from the outset, we meet relatable protagonist, the beautiful but middle aged-beleaguered, Sarah Ann Boswell. She finds herself beset by the throes of a middle of her life crisis, when not only does she turn fifty years old, loses her husband to unfaithfulness and divorce, and feels largely ignored by her children, as well as finding herself unceremoniously fired from her job. At a loss for direction or self-esteem, Sarah Ann does the unthinkable and tries to take her own life; nevertheless she survives with the staunch love and support of her long time friends, her prayer group.

While hospitalized Sarah Ann meets godsend, the savvy, smart and talented, Jill Edgerton, who offers her the promise of a renewed life with an offer to join Edgerton Group, her Nashville based talent management firm. Accepting the offer, Sarah Ann embarks on a new and happier journey through life and into the alluringly lucrative world of the country music business. They strike country music gold with the advent of newly discovered artist Jared Parson. Although he’s handsome, talented, and virile he also seems to harbor a secretive side. Besides turning out to be a cash cow for Edgerton group, Jared also starts to cause a divide between partners Sarah Ann and Jill, as an illicit relationship forms between him and Jill. Moreover, events take a turn for the twisted and mysterious when Jill Edgerton is found murdered, leading to an investigation focusing on multiple, possible suspects including Sarah Ann. Read the rest of this entry »

The Gate Keeper: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery (Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries) by Charles Todd

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The Gate KeeperThe Gate Keeper opens with Inspector Rutledge’s controlled life about to be upset as his sister has married and is off on her honeymoon. Following the ceremony, Rutledge starts home but decides to go for a short drive to sort out his feelings on his life with his sister now married. The drive turns out to take him quite a distance from London and ends with him coming across a woman standing over a body lying in the middle of the road. Rutledge stops to help and doesn’t quite know what to make of her story that a man stepped out in front of their car. Her companion got out to ask what the fellow needed and was shot. The man in the road then vanished. Although the woman is visibly upset, he sends her in his car into town to get the constable while he stays with the body and their car. The constable comes and takes over the crime scene and sends Rutledge and the woman on their way. Rutledge books a room at the inn in town. The next morning he goes to see how the woman is and after hearing from her and speaking with the constable, urges him to request Scotland Yard be called in. He then calls his boss and arranges to be assigned to the case. Read the rest of this entry »

Need to Know: A Novel by Karen Cleveland

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Need to KnowThis book was very highly rated by some of today’s top writers, such as Grisham, Child, and Cornwell. I would recommend that you read it and see if you can discover what they saw in it that I surely missed. If you enjoy spy stories it does fit that genre without a doubt. But overall I didn’t find the tenseness or excitement usually found in spy novels.

Vivian Miller works for the CIA and has been tabbed to be quite a worker with a brilliant future already being touted by some of the higher-ups in her section. Her forte is finding and tracking Russian secret agents who have come to the United States to get as deep into the U.S. intelligence network as possible. Vivian’s abilities allow her to ferret out and identify these agents primarily through intercepting messages from people who have been identified to have some Russian connection. Many of these folks are just normal every day type individuals who are in the U.S. for many varied reasons but the vast majority of them are not spies.

Being able to sort and then really investigate the potential spies is a tough job but Vivian does it while raising a family. She has been married for over 10 years and has four young children. She met her husband, Matt, quite by accident while they both happened to be shopping. He and she collided in an easy manner but then the circumstances provided the opportunity to become friends. This they did and then over the years along came the children. Read the rest of this entry »

The Bengal Identity (A Cat Groomer Mystery) by Eileen Watkins

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The Bengal IdentityAs book two of the Cat Groomer series opens readers find Cassie McGlone hard at work planning her booth for the upcoming Chadwick town festival. Business at Cassie’s Comfy Cats Grooming and Boarding has picked up significantly since the events in book one. So when a nervous acting man brings in a cat desperate to board it for a few days saying he had suffered a house fire, Cassie was lucky to have a kennel available for the Ayesha. The man paid for a week’s boarding in advance then left. Cassie became suspicious of the young man’s story when upon bathing Ayesha a few times a beautiful coat with rosettes began to appear. After Mark her veterinarian boyfriend, examined Ayesha he told Cassie that this was not just another domestic cat,, but that Ayesha was most probably a Bengal and worth quite a lot of money.

There are a couple of side stories going on including the local festival, “funny” crops being raised at the organic farm and the developing relationship between Mark and Cassie. But the main plot is the cat. Who owns the cat? Why did the young man who brought the cat in have her, and what happened to him? And who is after the cat and why? Read the rest of this entry »

The Savior’s Game (The Daniel Byrne Trilogy) by Sean Chercover

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

The Savior's GameDaniel Byrne has left both the Vatican and the Foundation to fight the Council for Peace on his own. The plague they have spread robbed him of his uncle and nearly killed the love of his life. Now he is showing symptoms himself. He now has visions of a world outside of, yet connected to, our own. The Foundation has plans to upend society and take it over, using the AIT plague they now possess. In order to stop them, Daniel must learn to harness the new powers this other-worldly place gives him.

The Savior’s Game by Sean Chercover, is the concluding volume of the Daniel Byrne trilogy. While Chercover did a great job with the first two books, the third book isn’t as good. I found the plot to be somewhat rambling and disconnected from the previous books. It was almost like the author tried to take the story in a completely new direction while forgetting he was writing a trilogy. There are large portions of the book that seem to have no connection to the primary story line of the trilogy. Honestly, this book was a disappointment, which is why I can only give it 2/5 stars.

*A copy of this book from BestsellersWorld was the only consideration given in exchange for this review.*

The Painted Queen: An Amelia Peabody Novel of Suspense (Amelia Peabody Series) by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The Painted QueenThe Painted Queen finds Amelia and Emerson in Cairo on their way to another seasonal dig. While staying in Cairo before departing for the dig, a stranger intrudes upon Amelia while she is bathing, although he poses no threat given that he has a knife in his back. He is holding a piece of paper with Amelia’s name and room number as well as a card with “Judas” written on it. The beginning of this book is so typical of the series that I had great hopes. Alas, as the rest of the book unfolded, those hopes were dashed.

The Painted Queen is the final Amelia Peabody book. Joan Hess was contracted to finish this after Elizabeth Peters’s death. It was my understanding before I read the book, that Peters had left behind the book in an unfinished form and Ms Hess was to finish the book. That does not appear to be the case. I cannot imagine that anything other than a very rough outline was left behind, because, sadly, the characters in this, the last chapter in a long running and well written series hold on the shell of a resemblance to the Peters’ characters. Read the rest of this entry »

A Death in Live Oak: A Jack Swyteck Novel by James Grippando (Review #2)

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A Death in Live OakBeginning with the finding of a young black man all bound up and floating dead in a river, A Death in Live Oak, takes the reader on an interesting ride through the North Florida area. It covers not only college students and their fraternities but it also is a good look back into history at the things that happened due to racism and its events.

Mark Towson, the president of the white Theta Pi Omega fraternity, is taken in by the police for questioning when the president of the black Alpha Kappa Delta fraternity turned out to be the body that was found in the river.

Supposedly someone texted a message to Jamal Cousin, the dead black student, a few days prior to his being found in the river. The message, “watch yo ass on the float, nigga, strange fruit on the river” was known everywhere as a threat that the person would be found hanging from a tree on the river banks. It was a familiar threat to folks in the area as it was tossed around for many years. Read the rest of this entry »

Dead Calm (A Mattie Winston Mystery) by Anneliese Ryan

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Dead CalmDead Calm opens with Mattie Winston and her new husband Steve Hurley’s life is anything but calm. As readers of the series know, they are recently married, are in the process of building a larger home, have a two year old and to cap it all off Steve’s teenaged daughter has recently come to live with them. Add to that, Mattie’s office is short handed requiring her to work long hours. Dead Chaos comes closer to describing their life. However, readers who have not read the series before will have no trouble jumping right in. The author uses parts of the first few chapters to give readers a bit of background on their lives. Read the rest of this entry »

Murder on Black Swan Lane (A Wrexford & Sloane Mystery) by Andrea Penrose

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Murder on Black Swan LaneMurder on Black Swan Lane is the debut book in a historical mystery series set in Regency England. The series brings together one of the most unusual pair of protagonists found in the mystery genre. The Earl of Wrexford is, besides a wealthy nobleman, a chemist. His soon to be counterpart is about as unusual as one can imagine. Charlotte Sloane is a poor widow making ends meet by masquerading as a political cartoonist under her late husband’s pen name A.J Quill. And readers here might ask what would bring people from such different world together? Fate I suppose, but really it is human nature, the cause of so many problems.

The Earl of Wrexford’s comfortable life allows him plenty of time to enjoy his interests, one of which is chemistry. Life should be good. His unseemly behavior combined with his fiery personality however brings trouble to his door. Such is the case when Reverend Joseph Holworthy, a local and rather overly pious man of the cloth decides to publicly call out the Earl on his sinful ways. The Earl responds and so the public back and forth between the two becomes a bit of entertainment for the public to follow. The widow Sloane, acting under her late husband’s pen name begins drawing cartoons lampooning the battling pair. But when the Reverend is found murdered in his church with chemical burns the fun is over. The Earl is in serious trouble. The Earl eventually discovers who the cartoonist really is, but rather than exposing her, he enlists her help in exposing the reverend’s shadowy activities involving pseudo science. The two team up and manage through science and intuition uncover the real murderer. And the team of Wrexford and Sloane is born. Read the rest of this entry »