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Windfall: A Henry Lysyk Mystery by Byron TD Smith

Reviewed by Daniel Ryan Johnson

Windfall: A Henry Lysyk Mystery is a well-researched story interweaving real-world intrigue into a fictional tale full of questions. Windfall is not an over the top mystery thriller where every moment is filled with high suspense and the pressing need for action. Instead, it quietly tells a tale about an unassuming former banker, who is somewhat reluctantly drawn into the maze by a love for puzzles and at the urging of his precocious niece and captivating neighbor. The distraction might be exactly what our protagonist needs to pull him out of a dark period in his life – unless the danger catches up to him.

While the book may move at a more casual pace than many modern mysteries, which feel the need to fill every page with excitement, that does not mean it is lacking in tense moments of suspense. The first chapter of the book will hook you before the following chapters reel you into the world surrounding one of the most infamous unsolved crimes. Author Byron TD Smith does a terrific job of balancing these moments with wonderful character development, that leaves the reader feeling connected to those who live between the pages. All the characters feel real, and their actions are believable, which is not often something you find in the genre.

Mr. Smith’s writing flows smoothly across the pages and can make it difficult to find a place to pause your reading session. This can pose a hazard for late-night readers as they may find a short sleep ahead of them. Smith doesn’t rely on the high-octane world of sex, drugs, and rock & roll to sell the reader on his story, although all three do lurk around the edges. Instead, he relies on the compelling storylines and mildly eccentric characters he has created to keep readers engaged. He doesn’t attempt to write down to the reader to appeal to a larger audience, nor does he alienate readers with overembellished sentences.

After finishing the book, I was surprised to discover that Windfall was Mr. Smith’s first novel. The polished storytelling and literary presence read like an author who has honed his craft for years. I look forward to seeing what he will bring us next, and based on the subtitle am hoping to meet up with Henry and his friends again before too long.

The Killing of Faith: This is a suspense/thriller you won’t soon forget by William Holms

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

If you are looking for a fresh suspense/thriller, you should look no further than “The Killing of Faith” by William Holms. This book will take you on a thrilling journey of the rise and fall of a woman.

It all starts and ends with Faith. The story, narrated in the first person by Faith herself, opens to a very grim but vague present setting. A setting that is periodically revisited throughout the chapters and which is in stark contrast to the past. She takes us back to her childhood and patiently goes through the main events of her life: engagement, marriage, motherhood.

Faith is the kind of beautiful girl that is well aware of her good looks and does not hold back from using this to her advantage. She finds little interest in school, instead, she prefers hanging out with her friends, shopping, and boys. One boy in particular. So, she enters into a tumultuous relationship that eventually leads her to drop out of school and move out from her parents’ place to a different city. Faith leaves everything for a man and a fresh start. But she doesn’t get either. Her dreams crumble and so does she. At least until another man walks into her life and she rebuilds herself through him. This becomes a pattern that repeats with some minor variation. Faith seems to have an innate drive to seek out completion in somebody else and this drives her to the edge of life.

The brilliant thing about the book is its growing suspense. And this suspense is a testament to the skills of William Holms. It all starts with the title, “The Killing of Faith”. So, naturally, the reader expects Faith to be killed at some point. But there are so many questions that arise: why? How? By whom? And as the pages of the book seem to run out and Faith is still very much alive, one starts to wonder if it will still actually happen or was it all just a ruse. This tense anticipation is the main driving force that keeps you flipping page after page.

This is not one of those books that get you hooked by a nurtured love for the main character, quite the contrary… yet the author manages to elicit feelings of sympathy and compassion for Faith as she is met with hardships. Also, her childish naiveté remains an endearing quality. The character carefully balances on the verge of a charicaturistic depiction of women and this is one of the elements that awaken such strong feelings of ambivalence toward her.

The Killing of Faith” is a captivating read, but it is not a book for all ages, as there are some explicit scenes and vulgar language. What is more, the sequel is already in preparation by William Holmes.

Buried (Hush Collection) by Jeffery Deaver

Reviewed by Allen Hott

I am not exactly sure why Jeffery Deaver decided to write a short story with this one but not only he did and he did a great job. It involves a man who gets kidnapped and then put away in a basement type prison. Funny thing is as the story goes along he isn’t really the main premise behind the story.

In fact the story is about a person called The Gravedigger who does all sorts of criminal activities and then usually leaves notes of some type for the police to use as they hunt sometimes for the bodies but all the time for The Gravedigger.

While this part of the story is moving along Edward Fitzhugh a longtime newspaper reporter is about to retire but he is so interested in writing the story and hopefully even helping the police that he almost puts off his retirement. (And he actually does but in another fashion). Read the rest of this entry »

Dangerous Bureau by Roger Williams

Reviewed by Daniel Johnson

Dangerous Bureau is a book about monsters. Not the kinds of monsters that hide under your bed or in your closet – hopefully. This book is about the monsters that live next door. The monsters that you see on your television every day. The monsters that we all know are out there, but can never see until it’s too late.

Roger Darrell Williams brings us the story of Tara Helms, mother of two, loving wife, and former computer hacker extraordinaire. Tara quit her job as a hacker to take care of her sick son, and aside from spending more time in the hospital than the mother of a small child should have to, her life was pretty good. Until one evening, when her little girl was abducted by one of these monsters next door. After that Tara Helms’ life would never be the same.

Williams takes us down a dark path as the abduction and murder of Tara’s daughter Cindy continues to pull her further and further into the abyss in order to take down the man who killed her child and the system that supports him. The monsters that fill the pages of Dangerous Bureau grow more and more revolting with every turn of the page, and the reader’s hope for vengeance grows stronger with each word. Read the rest of this entry »

A Time to Kill: A Novel (Jake Brigance Book 1 by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A really good read by Grisham. As usual it is in the south and again as usual it has legal ramifications. Jake Brigance is a young attorney in Ford County Mississippi and is struggling at the moment to make money. Unbeknownst to him at the time he is about to get a tremendously big case even if the income isn’t going to be too great.

It seems that two young very inebriated white guys (one who had already been imprisoned once) grab a little ten year old black girl and do some unspeakable things to her. Not only do they sexually attack her but they also beat her pretty badly and then after the horrible mutilation they threw her into a ravine and hurriedly drove away.

Tonya, the little girl, gets out of the ravine and with some help gets home to where she tells her Mom and Dad what happened. Once the sheriff hears what has happened he goes after Billy Ray Cobb who has been spouting off in the local bar about having raped a young “nigger”. Ozzie, the black sheriff, arrests both Billy Ray and Pete Willard who was Ray’s buddy that afternoon.
Ozzie took them to jail and there the real story begins. Read the rest of this entry »

Tunnels & Caves by Robert Haydon

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Kelly Wren and Angie Morrison are in a serious romantic relationship. They co-own a farm in Willow Creek, a rural town in Texas. Wren is a former sheriff who works on cold cases along with retired detective Wayne Tolleson for the Austin Police Department. Morrison unofficially helps with the investigations, which involve three cold cases: the double murder of a man and his girlfriend, the murder of a teenage girl, and the disappearance of a college student and her boyfriend. While Morrison devotes time to aid Wren and Tolleson, she also oversees the day-to-day running of the successful farm business and deals with a stalker. Wren and Tolleson end up in dangerous and life-threatening situations while pursuing satisfactory resolutions to the unsolved crimes. Will they be successful, or will the criminals get away with their abhorrent behavior? As Morrison’s stalker escalates to more intrusive and threatening behavior, will Morrison become the victor and not the victim? Read the rest of this entry »

A Steep Price (Tracy Crosswhite Book 6) by Robert Dugoni

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A very good cop story by Dugoni. A good read with action, story line and no sex! Tracy Crosswhite is a Seattle homicide detective who works with Del, Faz, and Kins. In this one Del and Faz are working to break up a drug ring headed by a guy named Little Jimmy. It appears that Little Jimmy has shot and killed a woman in the neighborhood who was spearheading a drive against drugs. The main proof is a hand print on top of an automobile that was left by the gunmen. But figuring out if that ties to the shooting is part of the story.

Faz knows Little Jimmy very well since when he was fourteen Faz had been instrumental in getting Little Jimmy’s dad put in prison. While there he was killed by other prisoners and Little Jimmy still feels that Faz was the one who put his dad in the position and thus he does not like Faz. So far however it has been just a quiet eye to eye battle between the two but Faz watches Jimmy very closely. And Faz works to prove Jimmy is the one in the murder of the woman.

While Faz and Del work on their case they also battle sideline battles. Del has severe back problems that get worse every day by his work and doing things around the house. It causes Faz to have to work alone quite often and he is also having personal problems as his wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer so he is having all sorts of mental anguish. Read the rest of this entry »

The Innocent (Will Robie Book 1) by David Baldacci

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Will Robie is back and though a lot of us have a hard time believing that our government would hire hit men to take out those opposed to our ideas, here is the guy who does just that. For some time and several Baldacci books Will Robie has been the hit man for the United States who travels all over the world. He works for the U.S. government incognito and takes out the top men in the various groups who oppose the U.S. way of thinking and doing business.

He basically reports to one man who gives him his assignments and these assignments can be anywhere in the world. And as is almost always the case he somehow gets involved personally with individuals along the way. Usually these individuals are women that he meets and falls for. Some of them are good and some are not so his live becomes even more involved than just killing bad guys.

In this story Robie begins having to kill a Russian and a Palestinian who are planning on killing someone high in the U.S. Government. Robie does his job and makes his way back home. Little does he realize that the Palestinian whom he had killed has a relative who will hunt Robie down and eventually find him. Read the rest of this entry »

The Society (Elizabeth Grant Thrillers Book 1) by C.G. Abbot

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

While Elizabeth Grant is housesitting her grandmother’s house in Mississippi, she is plagued with returning nightmares. Seven years earlier her best friend Loralei, the closest thing she had to a sister, disappeared without a trace. As a child, Elizabeth spent every summer visiting her grandparents. During her first summer visit, she met Loralei and they became best friends spending all their time together.

The summer that Loralei vanished, Elizabeth did not visit Mississippi. Could she have done something to prevent her disappearance? The night her friend went missing, she had a vision of Loralei in her bedroom in Colorado. Loralei appeared bloody and beaten, terrifying Elizabeth. She asked her mother to call Lorelai’s house and learned that she was missing. Loralei was never found and Elizabeth began to have nightmares and visions of her. What terrible thing happened to Loralei?

Now, while at her grandmother’s house, she receives an early morning visitor, Madame Antionette. Madame Antoinette needs to speak to Elizabeth about Loralei as she was having visions of her too. Soon after her visit, the woman is killed and Elizabeth is now in danger too. Someone is watching her, possibly the same person or persons who hurt Loralei and Madame Antoinette. Elizabeth discovers that her friend was in possession of some important documents that endangered her life and puts the nation in jeopardy. Throughout the book, Lorelei appears to her friend helping her figure out the mystery. Read the rest of this entry »

Big Numbers (Austin Carr Mystery Book 1) by Jack Getze

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Austin Carr is having some problems with his life. Because of monetary problems and a split with his wife, he is living in an old truck-mounted camper. The camper is parked in the lot of a bar where he spends a lot of time and the owner of the bar wants him out of the lot but seems to always succumb to Carr’s charm. Carr has also given him a few stock tips that paid off and he is hoping for more help in exchange along the way to pay for the parking.

Mostly Carr gets along well with Luis who is the bartender at Cruz’s bar and grill so that keeps him pretty well fixed for food and beverages. However Cruz still is very watchful because he isn’t happy with the camper truck in the lot.

It seems as a stockbroker he isn’t doing overly well although he has one client, Gerry Burns, who has been putting quite a bit of work Carr’s way. One day Gerry comes in to see Carr and first complains a bit about the market, like everyone else is doing in this particular slowdown. But then he drops a bigger bomb when he tells Carr that has pancreatic cancer and supposedly is dying. Read the rest of this entry »