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Rag Doll: A Novel by Daniel Cole

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Rag DollDebuting with an embroiling work of thrilling crime fiction, Daniel Cole’s Rag Doll familiarizes readers with its dysfunctional hero William “Wolf” Fawkes, a seasoned but damaged police detective forced to match wits with an insanely depraved criminal whose gruesome acts resound with pure evil genius. As book one of the William Fawkes Detective series Rag Doll
is a memorable read that thrills with its uber-twisted plot as much as it disturbs with its gore.

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A genuinely good man, but nevertheless teetering on the edge with his sanity, Wolf finds himself suspended after exacting his own brand of vengeance on a nefarious criminal that should have remained in jail. Following his return to the police force, a gruesome crime sets everyone on edge with the discovery of a body built from the parts of six apparent murder victims, given the nickname, The Ragdoll. Possibly dealing with the work of a serial killer, Wolf, ex-partner Emily Baxter and her trainee, Alex Edmunds set about finding a connection with the victims, hoping it will lead to the killer before he or she can strike again. Read the rest of this entry »

Killed or Be Killed (4 Bookshots Thrillers) by James Patterson

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Kill or Be KilledA bit different as this book written by Patterson along with other writers is actually made up of four stories. Patterson does write quite often now with others but this is the first one that I have seen made up of novellas. Overall quite interesting although the one was a bit tough to follow due to being basically about Scotland Yard and some devious criminals. And another that was not at all Patterson style.

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    The Trial

The first however is The Trial and features Patterson’s famed Women’s Murder Club. Lindsay Boxer and her cohorts get involved early when Boxer is called to the scene of a major disturbance and subsequent shootout at a place called the Vault. It appears two women were shot dead and then as several bad guys attempt to get away the police shoot two of the bad guys and capture one.

The one they capture turns out to be the shooter of the two women and is quickly identified as Jorge Sierra also known as Kingfisher. Boxer had known of him and was very eager to take him into custody.

However that then really turns into the story as while Kingfisher is in jail all sorts of things happen to thwart his trail and to cause deep concern to the police. These actions are all put together by the underground network of criminals that basically work for and report to Kingfisher.
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The Lost Girls: A Novel by Heather Young

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

The Lost GirlsThe Lost Girls interweaves two stories that involve different generations of the same family and link a tragic moment in the past to events that occur in the present. The central figures in the stories are Lucy Evans and Justine Evans, with the chapters alternating between the two women. Lucy is Justine’s great-aunt, and her story from the past is revealed through her personal journal. Justine’s contemporary story is told from her perspective in the third person. The stories involve family relationships, friendships, hurt, resentment, sadness, grief, loss, betrayal, cowardice, courage, loyalty, and secrets.

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Shortly before Lucy’s death, she decides to write down the events that happen over the course of an unforgettable summer in 1935, when her parents and two sisters are vacationing at their house on a remote lake in Minnesota. Lucy is eleven, Lilith is thirteen, and Emily is six. Each sister is trying to deal with issues in their lives. Lucy and Lilith have been drifting apart, and Lucy is hoping to revive their friendship during the summer. However, Lilith seems to care more about boys and her personal appearance than spending time hanging out with Lucy doing things that she thinks are childish. Emily wants to hang out with her sisters instead of being constantly in their mother’s company, but no one seems to care about Emily’s wishes. Decisions made by family members affect the family dynamic, and this leads to a heartrending occurrence at the end of the summer. The lives of people directly involved and those on the periphery are affected for the remainder of their lives. Read the rest of this entry »

She Rides Shotgun: A Novel by Jordan Harper

Reviewed by Laurie Weatherlow

She Rides ShotgunOpen the door and hop on in for the ride of a lifetime. Polly and her dad Nate will explain everything as we travel along the open road. But be on the lookout for gunfights and shadows lurking in the night. It has become their way of life.

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Eleven is much too young to learn the reality of prison hierarchy and the long tentacles of murderous gangs. But that is just what Polly must face if she is to survive in a kill-or-be-killed world. She has her best friend bear with her for comfort and companionship, but her father thinks she is a little nutty to treat a stuffed animal like he is alive. Polly’s father Nate has just been released from prison after five years. A run in with the fierce leader of the Aryan Brotherhood has set in motion a greenlight being placed on the lives of Polly, his ex-wife and himself. Nate’s sole mission is to keep Polly safe and alive until he finds a way to get the greenlight lifted. But Nate doesn’t anticipate the strength and fight that is in his daughter or the love that begins to bloom in his heart for this little girl. Read the rest of this entry »

Garden of Beasts: A Novel of Berlin 1936 by Jeffery Deaver

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Garden of BeastsThis is one terrific read. Deaver has taken the reader and placed him right back into the 1930s with a fellow named Adolf Hitler building up his empire in Germany. Actually the story is about a German American living in New York at the time and working as a mobster hitman.

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The man, Paul Schumann, is somewhat strange in that he doesn’t kill for the sake of killing but actually does it to rid the world of people who are doing no good. In other words he kills killers or other gangster type individuals who are not good for the rest of mankind.

Schumann is captured by the federal government as he was planning a “touch off” of a criminal. However when they take Schumann into custody they give him a choice. He can either go to prison for what would probably turn out to be a lifetime or he can accept an assignment from the government in exchange for his freedom. Read the rest of this entry »

Opry: A Semi-Musical Tale of Honky Tonk Lifestyle by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Ray Palen

OpryA raucous Oklahoma City Honky Tonk; a relentless bulldog reporter; a City Councilperson on a mission; a couple on the outs competing against each other in a winner take all Karaoke Contest.

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These are just some of a handful of characters in the wild, over-the-top, country music fueled novel OPRY. Did I forget to mention there are also a string of missing women including a prospective competitor in the Karaoke Contest?

Author Simon Plaster prides himself on his satirical novels featuring characters that resemble — or closely resemble — real life characters. OPRY is a big undertaking in which Plaster, from a literary standpoint, has many balls in the air to juggle all at the same time.

V.D. “Moon” Mullins is the sleazy owner of Honky Tonk, a self-proclaimed Texas style beer joint in the heart of Oklahoma City. His place is about to host their nearly famous KaraOkie Opry singing contest. Many have entered this extremely competitive competition and a handful of these ‘talents’ are featured in the narrative of OPRY. Read the rest of this entry »

A Burning in the Darkness by A P McGrath

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

A Burning in the DarknessA P McGrath successfully unites the most important elements of civilization between the covers of A Burning in the Darkness. The pages of the book offer a tasteful blend of crime and romance under the seal of Catholic faith.

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At a large international airport, a small confessional room is filled with secrets. Father Michael Kieh, who is responsible with hearing these burdens and offering forgiveness when it is due, finds himself lured into an intricate web of conspiracy. The spiders forming the web are important men of the society and their victims are whoever endangers their status or brilliant future. Ruthless predators, they hunt under the cover of law and bureaucracy, using the system to their own advantage.

Basically, two institutions – the church and the justice system – test their influence over one another and people. Each offers a certain set of tools which can serve the purpose given by the one who wealds these. Father Kieh becomes the keeper of some critical information, but due to the fact that it was obtained via confession, he is forced to test the limits of church regulation and his own morality. Read the rest of this entry »

No Man’s Land (John Puller Series) by David Baldacci

Reviewed by Allen Hott

No Man's LandMr. Baldacci has brought John Puller back and really tangled him up in a super woven story. Puller, and Army Special Agent and son of a retired three
Star general, is involved in finding out whom or what caused the disappearance of his mother some thirty years ago.

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His father, now suffering from dementia, is fading fast and Puller takes some time off from his military career to track down the clues in the old mystery.

It started because a former friend of the family sent the father a letter basically accusing him of doing the dirty deed to his wife. Puller doesn’t believe it and sets out to find the truth. Read the rest of this entry »

Pretty Little Girls: A Novel by Karin Slaughter (Review #3)

Pretty Little GirlsTwenty years ago a beloved, young woman disappeared without a trace, tearing her family apart. Julia Carroll’s vanishing has never been solved and after her father, Sam, tries in vain to find her he commits suicide. Her mother, Helen keeps her bedroom exactly how she left it in hopes that she will return home. Her two sisters, Lydia Delgado and Claire Scott, grieve in different ways and eventually become estranged from each other. Lydia turns into a drug addict, although she is clean now, and Claire is put on parole after physically harming a friend.

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The recent disappearance of another young girl brings up memories of their sister. Then tragedy strikes the family again. Claire’s wealthy husband, Paul, is brutally murdered after they celebrate the ending of her parole and removal of her ankle bracelet. She is devastated and tries to put her life back together after the unexpected death of her husband.

While using Paul’s computer to find some files for his work partner, she stumbles across some photos and videos. Photos and videos he has kept a secret from her. She finds very graphic and shocking pornography on his computer. She had no idea that he looked at this sort of thing. As she studies them closer, she believes that the girl in one of the videos is the missing girl. She takes the hard drive to the cop investigating her husband’s murder. He tells her it’s fake, but she has her doubts.

She soon discovers more horrific videos and pictures with Paul in them and sets out to discover why he has kept them. During this time she reconnects with her sister Lydia, and they begin to sift through the layers of everything that the fastidious Paul kept hidden for many years. Evidence is uncovered that could help solve the recent vanishing of the young girl and also lead to discovering what happened to Julia. What other horrifying things will the sisters learn about Paul Scott?

Karin Slaughter writes an excellent novel with lots of surprises and more twists and turns than a curvy road. She grips the reader with a great mystery and keeps them wanting to read more. I caution anyone who does not like to read explicit violence as some of the scenes are very graphic, but the book is definitely worth delving into.

The Burial Hour (A Lincoln Rhyme Novel) by Jeffery Deaver

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Burial HourGreat start to another good Lincoln Rhyme story. This time a young girl sees a man grab a man and put him in the trunk of a car. And while doing so the culprit leaves a mini-noose on the ground. The little girl gives it to her mom and the story begins!

Lincoln and Amelia Sachs, his investigating assistant and about to be wife, get dragged into the case right when they are planning on taking a trip to Europe or somewhere to get married! However with Thom, the great assistant-do-everything-guy will be along wherever they go since Lincoln is a paraplegic pretty much confined to a wheelchair.

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First off they have to find not only the culprit but the guy who was kidnapped. Turns out the victim is all trussed up with a specific type noose that is hooked up to a bucket of water. As more water fills the bucket the noose get tighter and tighter. Can they get to him in time?

But this is only the beginning because next that same culprit turns up in Italy and pulls the same type of stunt. Clever, eh what? At least Deaver didn’t have him turn up in India or somewhere that Lincoln and Sachs would have to go and mess up their wedding plans.

However as the story progresses the reader finds out much about this particular criminal. Also the reader finds out especially about his phenomenal ability to hear sounds and particularly musical sounds at least to him. Quickly he is dubbed the Composer and he is becoming a world-wide entity since he posts videos on something like YouTube to show off his victims.

These mysterious kidnappings also somehow seem to get involved with refugees. Italy like many other countries is so overwhelmed with them that one of their politicians says it is The Burial Hour since there are so many of these refugees that they will eventually bury all the true citizens of the country or countries. Read the rest of this entry »