Search

They Call Me Ms: A Vic Carella Mystery by Terry Adcock

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

They Call Me Ms. takes place in the Washington metropolitan area and introduces readers to Private Investigator Vic Carella. Mitch Goldberg hires Vic to locate his stolen luxury yacht. What Vic thinks is just a simple problem of tracking down a missing vessel turns into a challenging and dangerous adventure as Mitch was not forthcoming when Vic agreed to take on the case. It comes to light Mitch is tangled up with a criminal organization that engages in arms smuggling, money laundering, and human trafficking.

Mitch’s dead body turns up before Vic figures out who might have hidden the yacht and its location. Vic’s inquiries to determine who killed Mitch and his involvement in illegal and nefarious activities bring her to the attention of miscreants. She comes up against seemingly inescapable and life-threatening situations. Concurrently with Vic, law enforcement officials are investigating. Who will prevail? Will the individuals engaged in unlawful activities get away with their crimes or be stopped by Vic and/or police and government agencies?

The novel is a terrific debut in A Vic Carella Mystery series. Vic, the newly featured female private detective, tells the story from her point of view. Terry Adcock’s writing style lets readers get a first-hand look into Vic’s emotional and behavioral responses to ethical dilemmas. All the characters are imbued with distinctive personality traits, which affect their approach and reaction to situations. New challenges and more complications for the characters make readers want to know what will happen next. How complicated will their personal lives become? Can they overcome obstacles in their way? The profanity chosen by Adcock suits the characters. Read the rest of this entry »

Shadow Shinjuku Volume 1 by Ryu Takeshi

Reviewed by Lily Amanda

Shadow Shinjuku” is an adventure-filled crime thriller that is set in Japan and follows the life of a young man, Sato-san. It is the first volume of the Shadow Shinjuku series. As a young homeless child, Sato-san lived one day at a time, begging for money on the streets of Tokyo. One day, his fortune changes when he meets Kobayashi-san, an infamous leader of a crime organization, who takes him in but demands one thing from him, loyalty. Sato-san is gradually drawn into a world of crime, drugs, and death as he falls deeper into Tokyo’s underworld.

Sato-san grapples to honor his allegiance to Kobayashi-san as he begins questioning the effects of his actions as a member of the organization. He further seeks to protect those he cares for from the same people he is working for. The concept of right versus wrong is explored as well as loyalty versus freedom in this fascinating tome. Sato-san soon learns he has to begin making choices and soon.

Ryu Takeshi is a great writer. I admired how he breathes realistic life into the life of his characters. This makes the story plausible and very enjoyable. Buoyed with twists and turns, this book keeps you on edge to the end. The vivid descriptions used display Japan’s sites and sound extremely well. In the beginning, I felt the book was slow-paced but understood this feature as it helped me meld with the characters. Read the rest of this entry »

The RayBright Caper (A Kirbi Mack Novel Book 1) by B.B. Teeter

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

If you are looking to start a new modern detective series with a feminist twist, consider “The RayBright Caper” the debut novel of the “Kirby Mack Series.” The story revolves around the classic tale of thieves trying to pull off a heist and an underdog investigator trying to catch them. However, in B. B. Teeter’s version, this involves a secret military device as a prized possession, an unlikely band of two misfits, and an underappreciated female private security investigator.

Harvey, the man who came up with the grand plan, recruits an unlikely associate, a tech-genius kid named Mark. The start of their professional relationship is a particularly enchanting part of the novel. The tension between the two is palpable, as they each try to size up the other without giving too much away about themselves. Nevertheless, to obtain trust, one must first offer trust.

The two make a great team by complementing each other nicely. There are plenty of moments where they show complete trust in one another. What is more, they seem fully dedicated to the plan. However, throughout the pages, there is a lingering tension, which erupts occasionally.

As their carefully thought-out plan is set in motion, so is Kirby Mack, who is playing for the other side. She is hired by the targeted RayBright Labs, a San Diego Defense contractor. The founders of the company catch on to the fact that something is about to happen but that something seems to elude them.
Kirby proves to be far more resourceful and skilled than her employers thought. Her intelligence and deep knowledge of human psychology enable her to see things in a different light and generally obtain what she wants. In the end, it might even turn out that she was too good for the job. Read the rest of this entry »

Princess Reigns by Roger Williams

Reviewed by Daniel Ryan Johnson

Princess Reigns is a story that puts all of the seven deadly sins on display. Ava Edwards (aka Princess Ava) is a young, ambitious minister from the city of Del Toray. Her ambitions, however, do not align with any spiritual path of spreading God’s love. Instead, they are ambitions for money and power. Ava does not believe the messages that she preaches. Instead, she sees her place in the church as a stepping stone to greater things.

Ava is guilty of many of the seven deadly sins herself. Her wrath is on display immediately, as the book opens with Ava chasing an employee around the room, attempting to attack him. Her lust takes the form of sleeping with her ex-con church employee, Joe, behind the back of her husband, Henry. Her greed is visible in her desire to get a hold of her stepdaughter’s trust fund. Her envy is clear in her hatred for Reverend Holt, the leader of the church down the road. Her pride is shown in her self-praise for her looks and intellect.

The only two deadly sins that Ava does not display are gluttony and sloth. In fact, with the level of work she puts into her evil plans, sloth is the last sin of which Ava could possibly be accused. While she might not be guilty of these two sins, her ten-year-old son Jimmy certainly is. Mother and child are not the only villains of this story. Ava’s lover Joe and his brother Robbie certainly carry their fair share of wicked intent. Both brothers can check off several of the deadly sins themselves. Even our protagonist, private detective and stepdaughter of Ava, Tori Edwards, is guilty of wrath. She is constantly at odds with Ava over the way Ava treats Tori’s little sister, Susy. Read the rest of this entry »

Coldwater Revenge: A Coldwater Mystery by James A. Ross

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Coldwater Revenge takes place in 2002 with the setting in a lakefront community along the Canadian border. Tom Morgan, a high-powered New York lawyer, has taken a break from his job to spend time with his family. He is at a crossroads in his life and trying to choose the path he wants to follow. Shortly after his arrival in the small town of Coldwater, the body of a local man is discovered in the lake. Sheriff Joe Morgan, Tom’s younger brother, recently lost his staff and is the sole police officer in the town. Joe enlists Tom’s help in what turns out to be a high-profile murder case. During a meeting at Tom’s law firm, he finds out that a case from years ago in which he was only peripherally involved could cost him not only his job but also jail time. Time is critical for proving his innocence, but Tom refuses to leave Joe without support.

When Joe becomes critically ill due to his exposure to a deadly toxin, Tom takes over the investigation, and his theories and probing questions put him in the uncomfortable position of questioning the likelihood of whether his brother or Susan Pearce, the sister of the victim, could be involved in the complicated case in which a bio-research company is also entangled. Career choices along with personal and family relationships all point toward Joe’s and/or Susan’s possible guilt. While working on the case, Tom not only is dealing with inner turmoil, possible career implosion, family differences, and his feelings toward Susan, his ex-girlfriend, but he also winds up in precarious situations that lead to life threatening danger. Will Tom escape perilous predicaments and identify the killer? Is there a potential bio-terrorist plan afoot and can it be stopped? Will Joe’s body succumb to the poison? Read the rest of this entry »

Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III Book 1) by Harlan Coben

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Quite a different one by Coben in that he has used one of his secondary characters as the main character in this story. Pretty much the same style of story line in that Windsor Horne Lockwood III is now running the show as the chief investigator. It pretty much came about because Myron Bolitar who is normally Win’s boss is out of the picture for reasons only Coben knows.

Win even though he doesn’t necessarily look the part is quite an investigator. The only thing is he was born rich and as his name states he is of several generations of money. While this story does go on and into some detail about Win’s fortune and how he uses it, the story also shows his ability to be an investigator who can do that job very well.

After a ball game and slight battle with one of his previously designed enemies Win is picked up by the police. He believes they are looking to do something to him about assault but in fact they want him to help them on an investigation of a man who has been murdered. They take him into the room where the dead man is lying and immediately Win notices two things.

First is a very expensive painting hanging on the wall. Win knows it is expensive because he owns it and it has recently been stolen! Right next to the painting is a suitcase which has his initials on it because he also owns the suitcase! Read the rest of this entry »

The People vs. Alex Cross by James Patterson

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A typical Patterson book. The People vs Alex Cross is long and detailed but it is also interesting enough to hold the reader’s attention to the end. Alex Cross is a good long time cop who does have somewhat of a reputation for shooting those who oppose him……but it has always been proven that they provoked the shooting by pointing a gun at him or something that made Alex pull the trigger.

In this one he has shot and killed several followers of a major nemesis of his and he contends that they had guns drawn and were pointing them at him. His entire family is in the courtroom in his support and when it appears to be a closed case Alex’s nine year old son, Ali pulls off an astounding work that actually convinces the court to go on hold and rethink the evidence.

Strangely enough while all of this court room drama is going on Alex, along with his fellow police officers, is being drawn into an even deeper situation. It seems John Sampson, Alex’s former partner who is on temporary has gotten involved a case of missing girls. Not only are they young and very pretty but they also are all blondes. Everyone in law enforcement knows that they have been taken prisoners for those reasons. And they also feel quite sure that nothing but harm can come to these young women. Read the rest of this entry »

Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Then She Vanishes is a high-octane thriller packed with mystery and suspense. Jess is a reporter for the local newspaper in a small seaside town in England. Heather, a former close friend to Jess, is the prime suspect in a double homicide. Jess questions whether Heather is guilty. This puts Jess in a difficult spot for pursuing her own investigation. After Heather’s sister, Flora, disappeared without a trace nearly twenty years ago at the age of sixteen, Jess’s friendship with Heather’s family fell apart. Will the past hinder Jess in her efforts to find answers? Is Flora’s disappearance connected in some way to the unlawful killing of two people? Will the cold and present cases be solved, and the truth revealed?

Claire Douglas has done an outstanding job of creating a many-faceted novel. Topics like violent criminal acts, illegal drug trade, substance use and addiction, and kidnapping are skillfully woven together. Douglas includes other key elements in the story, such as the psychological and physical aspects of dealing with horrifying circumstances outside of one’s control. Readers can also identify with the characters and the tough choices they make in relationships that will have a lasting impact on their lives, both personally and professionally. Read the rest of this entry »

Camino Winds by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Bruce Cable owns a very large and busy book store on Camino Island and he and the rest of the residents are very uptight about the possibility of Hurricane Leo hitting the island. Bruce is very busy right now with several writers that he works closely with and helps them turn their works into best sellers.

However Bruce and the residents are working to “batten down the hatches” as Leo gets closer. Most everyone except Bruce and a few other die hard residents have evacuated the island. The storm does pretty much as predicted or maybe even more than predicted and the damage is intense. Also one of Bruce’s favorite writers (Nelson Kerr) who stayed on the island is found dead right after the storm. And the cause of the death is not the storm but gunshot wounds to the head.

The local authorities do the best investigating that they can under the circumstances but Bruce isn’t satisfied and goes off on his own to do more. It appears that Nelson was deep into writing a new book and it was not just a normal novel but one that was digging deeply into some special type of production of new vitamins or something. And though the book is fiction it does seem to be looking at not only the story. that is interesting. but also looks (or tries to look) at some strange but interesting characters.

Bruce isn’t quite sure how much Nelson really knew or was finding out but he does feel it is up to him and some others to start digging deeper into the entire situation. And since Bruce has quite a following not only among readers but actually various law enforcement groups who immediately take an interest in Bruce’s hypothesis. The involvement of all of these individuals helps to not only make for good reading but also makes the story move along. Read the rest of this entry »

The Guardians by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

John Grisham has done it again! The Guardians is another of his very interesting looks at law and the practice thereof. Grisham himself was an attorney in Southern Mississippi back before he became a famous writer, for books like Time to Kill and The Firm. And then even after his writing skills became known, in 1996 he went back to the courtroom and, as an attorney, won a case for his clients that totaled over six hundred and eighty thousand dollars. However The Guardians is proof positive of his ability as a writer!

Cullen Post and several other attorneys work in what is called Guardian Ministries. It is a very small firm that is based on religious beliefs and works on getting prisoners out of jail. The inmates they work to free are basically those who have been found guilty of a crime by a court that didn’t necessarily have all the facts. Or at least did not have them correct.

Most of those that The Guardians try to help are on death row or at least have been in prison for a very long period of time with no hope of release. Post is a lawyer and also an Episcopalian minister. He is presently working for Quincy Miller who has been in jail for over 20 years for a murder that was committed in North Florida. Read the rest of this entry »

Under Currents: A Novel by Nora Roberts

Reviewed by Allen Hott

To think that all of this happened in a small hill town in North Carolina makes you realize how great a writer Nora Roberts is. She follows various people in the town (mostly relatives of one another) as they go about their lives but the really good part is when she puts the reader into the shoes of those who suffered and some who actually died.

Begins with a wealthy family but the family is headed by a very strange rich man. He seems to enjoy sex with his wife (had several children) but seems as though he likes beating her physically more than he enjoys sex. And then she also tends to get into the fighting part as she fights back. Then together at various times they also beat their children. And that is their downfall!

They are arrested. She gets a fairly light sentence but he, because of the severity of the beatings and the continuity of them, gets a very severe sentence. His children move on with their lives and Zane, his son, becomes an attorney and stays close to his sister.

They have moved away to a small town where they are both moving along with their lives with the help of several extended relatives and also locals in the area. Zane does well in his profession and becomes close with the chief of police. Zane had always carried a baseball with him as he had played all of his life and had dreams of making it to the big leagues. Read the rest of this entry »