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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 »

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 »

The Guilty by David Baldacci

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Quite a beginning to this one as Will Robie, a professional top-grade sniper for the CIA, is waiting to get off his shot at an intended target. Although he has been doing this for some time he never actually knows who the target is or why that person is the target. He only knows what his orders are and he has always obeyed and then fulfilled his orders.

This one turns out differently and changes Robie’s life drastically. Yes, his shot is perfect and he hits and kills his target. However as he looks on from his perch he notices that behind his target was a young girl who was completely covered by the target until the bullet went through the target and right into the little girl’s head killing her also!

Robie does get away from the shooting area but he can’t get over the feeling of what he has done. His supervisor understands and tries to help out by not only helping to console him but also by granting some time off so he can get hopefully back together and return to his position.

But as it turns out on his next assignment Robie doesn’t take the shot because he believes he sees a small boy on the scene. Turns out there was no boy and Robie’s supervisor definitely decides it is time to give him a break.

His supervisor also tells him that they have gotten word that Robie’s dad, Dan Robie, has been charged with murder down in Mississippi. At first Robie doesn’t seem to care as he and his dad have not spoken since Robie left Mississippi some years ago and they were never overly friendly or close. But Baldacci uses the murder, etc. to move the story not only to Mississippi but also to move the story into a truly great read. Read the rest of this entry »

The Stranger in the Mirror by Liv Constantine

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Imagine yourself with no memory of your identity. This is the situation in which Addison finds herself in The Stranger in the Mirror. Any recollections about her life, before she was rescued by benevolent strangers, are gone. Addison currently lives in Philadelphia and is engaged to be married. She is experiencing fleeting moments of perturbing images. She wonders if memories are trying to break through into her conscious awareness, or if her imagination is conjuring the images. At the same time Addison is dealing with amnesia and its effects on herself and others, another person is facing challenging circumstances. Julian’s wife disappeared without a trace, and Julian has made it his number one priority to track her down. He lives in the Boston suburbs with his seven-year-old daughter. When Julian shows up and claims Addison is his wife, lives are thrown into upheaval. Is Julian’s allegation true? Remembrances of Julian and his daughter elude Addison. What does it mean for Addison and her fiancé? Will Addison stay in Philadelphia or try and embrace her supposedly past life? Will Addison ever recover her memories? Read the rest of this entry »

Deadly Anniversaries: A Collection of Stories from Crime Fiction’s Top Authors

Reviewed by Allen Hott

This is a very interesting concept to writing a book on mysteries, etc. in short form. There are a total of nineteen short stories written by some of today’s top writers. And basically each story is centered about some type of anniversary. The writers include Jeffery Deaver, Lee Child, Sue Grafton, and other notables.

“If You Want Something Done Right” tells of how a woman who wants out of her marriage pulls off various attempts but none work because he figures them out quickly. However he does become overly involved himself in how to protect himself and guess what? You got it right. Now read the story (and book)
to get the whole story. Sue Grafton put that one together and it is good.

“Ten Years On” is about an Indian nurse who is drawn to a dead soldier’s brother and it has a very strange ending.

Lee Child wrote “Normal In Every Way” that tells of a very slow thinking clerk who while working in police headquarters uses anniversary dates of various murders and ties them together in such a fashion as to help solve some crimes that have gone unsolved. 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 »

Fade Away (Myron Bolitar Novel) by Harlan Coben

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Myron Bolitar has been one of the main characters in several of Coben’s books and in Fade Away he again comes to the forefront. The last team Bolitar played for (he is/was a pro basketball player) was the New Jersey Dragons owned by Clip Arnstein. Clip now has called Myron and asked him to not only find Greg Downing, a top Dragon player, but he also wants Myron to rejoin the team in Greg’s spot. Myron had never actually gotten to play in any regular season games due to his injury.

Strangely enough Greg was the cause of Myron’s severe injury which caused him to quit playing. But now Greg is missing and Clip needs help. He feels Myron as an investigator could be a help in finding Greg but also help as a former player returning to the court. Myron decides to give it a shot although he is very leery of his ability due to the injury. Read the rest of this entry »