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The Summons by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

This, without a doubt, is one of Grisham’s best books! A very well written story of Ray Atlee who is summoned to come back to his father’s home in Clanton Mississippi. His father, Judge Rueben Atlee, is one of the most well-known and highly regarded chancellors in the state. Although he and his two sons, Ray and Forrest, have never been very close the boys have always respected and responded to their father’s wishes. He has sent each of them a very official summons telling them what day and what time they are to be at the old homestead for a meeting.

Ray knows that his father is dying of cancer and fears that this may be the last meeting they will have. What he doesn’t know is what he finds out when he arrives. He goes into the house to find his father asleep (he thinks) on a couch so rather than wake him Ray sits outside on a porch for a bit. Finally when he does go in he touches his father’s hand and realizes that he is already dead! There doesn’t seem to be any criminal type cause of death. He has been taken away by the cancer and it occurred while he waited on his sons to arrive.

As has been somewhat typical for some time however Forrest doesn’t show up and Ray begins to look around the house to see if anything unusual is or has happened since his last visit. As it turns out, in one of the storage closets Ray finds among other things a cardboard box and when he opens it to see what is inside he finds stacks of hundred dollar bills. By a quick overview and observation it appears each box has over a hundred thousand dollars in it. And there are at least twenty of these green storage boxes in the closet! Where did this come from?

Ray also finds a newly written will which his father had just written and was laying on the table by his sofa. The will explained everything was to be handled through the courts and then divided between the two sons. Ray was to act as the executor of the estate. The will only mentions about six thousand dollars in the bank and has no mention of the money in the boxes.

Ray is at a loss as to what to do when Forrest finally does arrive. Forrest is a very addicted drug user who has wasted his money, his wife, and his life on drugs. Ray doesn’t mention to him about the boxes as the two sit and discuss how to handle their father’s funeral arrangement. After meeting with Harry Rex Vonner, an attorney and one of the Judge’s closest friends all arrangements are made and both Ray and Forrest go their separate ways just waiting for the funeral itself.

But from that moment on in the story Ray is saddled with not only the secret of the money but questions as to where it came from, who knows about it

if anyone, and what is going to happen to it. Basically Ray is the “unknown” guardian of the stash and he begins moving it around with him wherever he goes and wherever he stays. However, not too long after the funeral strange things begin to happen to Ray. Someone appears to be following him no matter where he is. And then when he does take the money in bags home with him, his home gets broken into. Shortly after he puts it into several storage units someone begins sending him pictures of the storage units!

How this is all grows into a really great story is one of Grisham’s best! The whole tale will keep any and all readers into the book right up to the end. Oh, yeah and even that may leave most of you stunned! It did me!

Murder, She Wrote: Murder in Red by Jessica Fletcher & Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

“Well, at least I wasn’t murdered.”

So opens Murder in Red, Jon Land’s third effort writing as Jessica Fletcher for the eternal Murder, She Wrote series and one he pulls off with literary alacrity so smooth and suave that I almost forgot he cut his teeth on the more hardcore thrillers he continues to dazzle us with. In fact, I’d venture to say that under his steady hand Jessica Fletcher has come to resemble his Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong without the gun, given that she, too, is relentless in her pursuit of justice.

And there’s plenty of it for her to pursue in Murder in Red, starting with the suspicious death of a close friend Jessica thought she knew far better than she actually did. Secrets, of course, have long been a staple of the mystery genre. In this series, though, more than anything Land has managed to deftly blend the more modern material of Michael Connelly or Robert Crais’s hardboiled mystery writing within the fabric of a classic cozy. Think Phillip Marlowe or Sam Spade if Chandler and Hammet respectively had written them as women. Read the rest of this entry »

The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A somewhat different book for Mr. Grisham. Although it is very involved with the legal world it is a non-fiction book. Grisham had seen some news articles about this unusual case and decided to follow it. And then he turned it into The Innocent Man. From all indications it is definitely a case of an innocent man who gets completely and unfairly tried and convicted by the authorities.

Ron Williamson had been a fairly decent ballplayer in his youth and actually was signed by Oakland Athletics to a minor league contract. Sadly he never had enough talent to hang on in the minors nor make it to the big leagues. He pretty much hung around Ada, Oklahoma and got by. He had many friends and he was always out in public somewhere. Most of his time when he wasn’t working he was hanging out in bars and saloons. Read the rest of this entry »

Redemption (Memory Man series Book 5) by David Baldacci

Reviewed by Allen Hott

RedemptionAmos Decker, he who is long on memory and quick on solving crimes is at it again. This time he has returned to Burlington, Ohio where he used to live. He is there to visit the grave of his wife and of his daughter, who would have been fourteen this day. The two of them were murdered in their home some years ago when Amos worked in that city as a police officer.

While Amos is in the graveyard he is approached by a gentleman that at first is unrecognizable to Amos but then he realizes that it is Meryl Hawkins. Hawkins was put in jail back when Amos lived there. Amos built the case that Hawkins was convicted in and sent to jail for life. He has recently been released due to the fact that he has terminal cancer and the state turned him free to die on the outside. Amos talks with him and Hawkins claims again that he was innocent of the crime. Read the rest of this entry »

Running Blind (Jack Reacher) by Lee Child

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Running BlindJack Reacher at his best! Strangely enough it would seem that the traveling crime solver would be finished with his specialty. He just inherited a house from an old commanding officer of his who had taught him most of what Reacher knows about crime solving and living! It also turns out that after all the years they had worked together Reacher is now almost married to the old man’s daughter. But that may come later, who knows?

As usual however this story begins with a typical Reacher maneuver. He had just finished dinner at an Italian restaurant in Manhattan when he noticed two tough looking guys talking in a harsh way with the owner. They made some gestures that appeared to show they planned to do damage to his restaurant if he didn’t respond to them. Reacher talks to the owner and finds out the two are coming back in an hour to get his first payment for “security” from other gangs. Read the rest of this entry »

You Don’t Own Me (An Under Suspicion Novel) by Mary Higgins Clark

Reviewed by Allen Hott

You Don't Own MeThis is one in the series, Under Suspicion, written by Mary Higgins Clark and is a pretty good read overall. This is also my first read of any of Clark’s books.

Caroline Radcliffe is working as a nanny for Doctor Martin Bell and his wife, Kendra when she hears what she thinks to be fireworks being shot off outside as she watches over the two young Bell children. However as she goes out to check she finds the doctor shot to death in the driveway in his automobile.

Caroline runs into the house and tries to tell Kendra but Kendra is in one of her stupors or at least appears to be. Kendra has been suffering from some sort of postpartum depression for quite a while and she doesn’t always respond very quickly. The police are called and investigations are done but no one can be found to be responsible.

Five years later Kendra is doing much better and is taking care of the children with the help of Caroline. However the parents of Doctor Bell have never accepted the fact that (a) no one was found to be guilty and (b) they suspect Kendra of being involved plus they do not like having her take care of their grandchildren.

The Bell parents decide to contact Laurie Moran of a widely known television program called Under Suspicion. This program with Laurie and her staff do more in depth searching and investigating on cases that though worked on by law enforcement agencies they have never been solved. Laurie had looked into Martin Bell’s murder several years ago but really did not spend a lot of time with it nor did she find out anything of significant value. However now with the pressure of the Bells she agrees to take another in depth look at the situation.
Read the rest of this entry »

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Wrong Light (The Rick Cahill Series) by Matt Coyle

Reviewed by Vickie Dailey

Wrong LightThis was my first Rick Cahill novel – I really like the character – he is a no nonsense PI.

Rick is hired by a local radio station to find out who is stalking their late-night talent via her call-in line. After Rick meets Naomi, he begins the process of finding her stalker – when it walks the Russian Mafia – pulling him in another direction.

While trying to work both cases, Rick spends many sleepless nights which leads to mistakes and death for others. Rick enlists his PI friend Moria to help with Naomi’s case while he pursues the other trying to tie all the trails together toward the final end pulling in favors from the police and FBI.

I really liked the fast pace of the book and waiting to find out if Rick could pull off working two unrelated cases at the same time – lots of story plot to hold your interest.

Splinter in the 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? Read the rest of this entry »

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. Read the rest of this entry »