Murder Aboard a Cruize to Nowhere

 Murder aboard a Cruise to Nowhere, Sand in my Shoes Publishing copyright and written by Owen Parr.

This book is Novella 2 in “A Jack Ryder Murder Mystery Series” and follows an episode where the protagonist, along with Miami Beach Police Detective Logan Robert are guests aboard a privately engaged luxury cruise ship where the Head of the family, Gustav Inglenorth, is scheduled to announce changes in his estate plan, a matter involving several billion dollars. Jack and Logan have been invited, along with their ‘significant others’ as substitutes for four cancellations of original invitees. The invitation assumedly as a result of Jack’s reputation. He is a middle aged, former financial analyst now a prominent author of considerable reputation whose ability to detect minor and only slightly noticeable details has positioned him frequently to provide necessary material to Logan and positioned him to become a valuable consultant to the Miami Police Major Crimes Division. As a divorcee, his life style is rather ‘free-swinging’ and his abode is a sizeable yacht, his present ‘significant other’ is Logan’s sister. The plot emerges from the first night of the family cruise when the family patriarch is stabbed to death and a hurricane requires the ship to continue away from American waters where the crime can be turned over to the American authorities. Further acceleration of the storm finally makes them seek sanctuary in Cuba. It is incumbent upon Jack and Logan to discover the crime perpetrator(s) before return to American waters and surrender of the case to their authority.

Discussion: The author has set forth a quite interesting plot with an involved set of clues the reader can simultaneously attempt to correctly assemble. Regrettably, one feature of the book is the almost incredible lack of proper proofing. The number of missing, misspelled, misused and repetitiously employed words are almost impossible to believe. Thus, the reader will need to decide whether this mystery is sufficiently enjoyable to wade through the almost boundless proofing errors.

5* engaging mystery, -4* huge Caveat as discussed; Prospective reader’s choice.

Sedition

Sedition, Road to Breaking, Book 3 ISBN: 9781733107983 published, copyright and written by Chris Bennett.

The story continues with huge changes involving Mountain Meadows, its inhabitants, and the entire country. Megs interrupts a meeting among the elder leaders of the cabin slaves detailing their misunderstanding of a difference between them and the house staff slaves. The results are most productive and effect almost immediate changes. Meanwhile, as a State Senator, Nathan must journey to Richmond for an important session as to whether Virginia will join the Southern states in the call for secession from the United States of America. Fort Sumter has been attacked and appearances seem to be growing more favorable for election of Abraham Lincoln and the impending freeing of the slaves. Individuals espousing one particular element of the south are especially desirous of maintaining their position of political power and will use any available means to win. When Nathan left home he was accompanied only by two of his men because he was afraid that his neighbor might attempt again to harm his mother and destroy their home. Lack of sufficient support along with particularly audacious moves from this southern component result in serious injury to him and a need to leave for home rapidly and secretly even though severely incapacitated. Evelyn again appears, but in an entirely new roll and the reader is introduced to two new elements of the era that played an enormous part during this chaotic period. And even the huge Irish wolfhound/English Mastiff who Nathan had of necessity left behind when departing for Richmond by train, again enters the picture.

Discussion: In this third book of the series, the author has managed to present a most intriguingly interesting and well-paced, suspenseful tale. Additionally, he has provided further informative material with respect to probably existent political activity as well as features such as the Underground railway in preparation for a hopefully as well-managed finalé.

Another 5* read.

Don’t Mess with Jess

Don’t Mess with Jess assumed published, copyright and written by Kim Hamilton.

The author states that this is Book #1 of “An Accidental Lawyer Short Read in a series of short reads inspired by the full-length novel, Accidental Lawyer.”

Jessica Snow, a recently graduated young lawyer works with Kari Cruz, part black and other races and seemingly ‘Girl Friday/ jack of all trades’ for work required in and around the office.  Both work for boss Dawson who has a still newer employee whom he is grooming to partner with him in a most important (purportedly) golf tournament. The legal practice is of a typically described ambulance chasing variety and the office is in a depressed section of town as is Jess’s only slightly better situated place of abode. Jess has a well-deserved reputation for aiding in a criminal investigation, and once more is involved in finding the perpetrator of a hit-run incident that involves drugs.

Discussion: A tale of mystery and criminal investigation involving stereotypical characters but the tale is saved by the authors approach and the zany activities – a light, amusing style. This is the first of a proposed series of short stories, each easily consumed in a couple of hours.

4* A short bit of mystery in an amusingly described situation with zany characters.

Fresh Ink 2019 Short Story Collection

Fresh Ink 2019 Short Story Collection, published, copyright and written by Jamie Stone.

The book consists of seven stories. Perhaps all should be referred to as ‘on the dark side’. The first is about the protagonist chasing down the monster that torments almost every small child with problems by hiding under its bed every night. He finally destroys it making it safe for the small children until the next generation arrives. The next is of a Serial Killer finally arriving in Hell, his treatment there and his opportunity to obtain redemption along with a few others in a similar situation. The rest of the stories are of a similar dark nature. The entire book easily can be read in one sitting, thus having the advantage presented by most collections of this type. An individual selection can be consumed in a very short space of time.

Discussion: From this reviewer’s perspective, this is a volume that will appeal to a particular ‘mind set’, and for those readers I’m sure, will provide a high level of interest. For others, interest in this book probably will be minimal, except for the third story entitled “To Protect You”. This story opens as follows: “This is Report # 1,208,096, regarding Humanity’s loss of power, the end of machines, and the future of Planet Earth. May this be our final recollection.” The thoughts generated by the material presented are endless, and so closely relevant to life’s activities as they exist universally today, to be scarily mindboggling.

3* with a range from 5* to 2* as discussed.

Princess of Independence

Princess of Independence published, copyright and written by Icarus Bobain.

The author has set forth a tale of Italy’s intense struggle for arrival as an independent unified country in the days following Napoleon Bonaparte’s defeat and the country’s continued existence as independent states whose northern half was under the hated Austrian rule. Christina Trivulzio was a member of the royal aristocracy of Italy who devoted her life to fighting for the country’s unification and independence from the rest of the European countries. Her hatred was heightened by the manner in which both her father and stepfather were treated by the Austrian rulers of Northern Italy. She married Emilio Barbiano Belgiojoso, a highly positioned member of the aristocratic ruling class who, although kind and extremely generous, unfortunately also indulged in additional dalliances. They separated and she devoted her time increasingly to aiding the revolutionary element. She was charming, intelligent and devised ways in which to become ‘someone with whom to be associated’ through providing soirees that provided memorable evenings associating with famous musicians and others of note and distributing the proceeds to the Carbonari and others struggling for the country’s unification and liberty. She had been exiled to France where she had an illegitimate daughter, Maria, who she attempted to indoctrinate with her same passion for politics. Forced by Napoleon’s defeat to flee France and unwelcome in Italy, she headed west, finally obtaining a farm in the less settled area of Turkey with a trip to the Holy Land that was vigorous, dangerous, but rewarding, and return to the farm. Through it all Emilio, provided a degree of support and she finally was able to return to her own country and her proper position. The story is told with alternating chapters describing the varying periods of time from the perspective of Christina and that of Maria as the years progress,

Discussion: The author has described an interesting story of Italy’s intense struggle for unity and independence in the early 1800s. For devotees of fictional tales that follow historical activities and include interchanges and/or interrelationships of well-known figures of the period, this book definitely is for you.

5* Especially for readers sited in the discussion.

The Aftermath

The Aftermath assumed published, copyright and written by Mark Stephen 0’Neal.

The first chapter is a quick ‘eye-opener’ for anyone introduced to the protagonist for the first time. He had not been ready for his night to end with Naomi, the new but decidedly complete love of his life, so after taking his time getting home, he had received an angry text from Nicole, his sister, with whom he spoke for 30 minutes about getting married and additionally about another sister, Jasmine and plans for her graduation party. Also greatly disturbing to Nicole was the fact that he had not informed her about their dad’s kidnapping, a situation that he had been able to dissolve quite rapidly by discovering that the entire situation had been engineered by a close friend whom he had given money to establish a business. He contacted Detective Stanton, a friend of his father who moved rapidly to arrest two of the perpetrators and the third is killed by an accident during a high-speed chase. He then stops on the way home for some necessary shopping and encounters a female employee who asks if he is Brock Lane? He confirms that he is and her next question is whether he prefers the Name Wolves or Trojans? From this point the tale continues to evolve and the reader learns that the protagonist is a young man who left college early to enter the professional basketball league draft. He was one of the fortunate, and within a very short time was able to distinguish himself as a rapidly rising star. As the plot progresses, the reader is introduced to more of family, present and former loves, other acquaintances, friends and enemies as several threats arise affecting Brock and/or members of his immediate and extended family.

Discussion: An interesting vignette of a relatively short period in the life of a rapidly rising basketball star on the cusp of earning huge amounts of money. Brock is an individual who has made mistakes earlier in life, as have members of a family who have been similarly involved to a greater or lesser extent. All now seemingly are functioning relatively normally except for some carry over of a degree of psychological burdens. Characters, family and the rest, are empathetically portrayed and apparently from the number of stories in the series, this book should be enjoyed by any number of readers.

5* As discussed in the review.

Enigma

ENIGMA Road to the Breaking, Book 2 ISBN: 9781733107969 published, copyright and written by Chris Bennett.

This is the second of an anticipated historical novel series of four. It opens with several definitions of the meaning of the book’s title, a quotation by Nathan Chambers, the protagonist: “I’m not particularly keen on doing what’s normal. I much prefer doing what’s right”, and follows with the opening chapter entitled “Princes, Strange Beasts, and Magical Giants”. The story begins in Greenbrier County, Virginia on June 11, 1860 with Nathan Chambers approaching the Big House his granddaddy had built among the seemingly endless cotton fields. It follows his, along with a host of other characters, actions as the United States of America gradually and inevitably head to the catastrophic War Between the States. A war whose genesis was greed, different ‘ways of life’ and differences in hunger for political power by groups basically demonstrating tremendous differences in morality with thousands of individuals’ very lives at stake. It also is the story of one man’s struggle to conquer an almost overpowering lack of control of a violent temper and to impose his strongly held belief in God and the equality of all men in a position of responsibility in a section of the country that was totally adverse to such equality.

Discussion: Although this volume can ‘standalone’, this reviewer believes some description of the protagonist’s actions and even that of many of his companions should provide insightful material for prospective readers. The first book in the series opens in March 15, 1860 – South of Fort Davis, Texas where Captain Nathaniel Chambers leads his troop attempting to find a notorious outlaw. They do and Chambers, angered by the outlaw’s action, viciously reacts. The reaction is understandable and not inappropriate, but distasteful to him as he is concerned with this personal lack of self-control of anger that he has been struggling with for many years. He had left home because of violent differences with his father, eventually graduated from West Point and ended his career to this point after fighting in the Mexican War. And the loss of control, early encountered and still active as demonstrated here, becomes a persistent feature of the story as it evolves. The tale continues as he is almost revered by those under his command as a fearless leader in battle and an intelligent, empathetic officer. Thus, when his father dies unexpectedly and he is forced to leave the army and its, for him, compatible way of life to return to Virginia, a few of his men resign to accompany him. The return is necessitated by his mother’s inability to handle the affairs of running a huge plantation, replete with slaves, another feature with which the Captain is ‘uncomfortable’.

The title of Book 1, “Road to the Breaking”, is based upon a time of great unrest between the American Indian Nations which Billy Creek, a U.S. Army Indian Scout with Nathan describes: “It was a time of such suffering and death, it caused the breaking of all the old ways. Some for the good, and some for the worse. Nothing came through ‘the breaking’ unchanged, and all that once was, even to the greenness of the earth, was broken during that time, and was never again the same.” The words well describe the theme of the author’s anticipated series as if progresses through the ‘gathering storm’ of the gradually developing Civil War as provided by a somewhat ‘in depth’ description of the actions that evolve around Nathan, his family, friends, acquaintances and enemies. The pace is slightly more ‘uneven’ than that of the first volume due largely to the additional discussions of pertinent facts that perhaps would benefit from some judicious editing. However, the characters are credible and most empathetically portrayed and the story of this chaotic period is a fascinatingly well-told historical novel.

In Summary, a most enjoyable ‘follow-up’ to the opening 5* volume.

5* Continuation of author’s difficult-to-put-down historical novel series.

Fire in the Barley

Fire in the Barley, Dan Mallett Investigations Saphere Books copyright and written by Roger Longrigg writing as Frank Parrish.

The plot of this book places the reader in a typical British setting with the protagonist a handyman son of a gamekeeper/poacher. Dan Mallett is an unusual young man who completed schooling and worked successfully in the business world to please his mother until she finally suffered so severely from arthritic hips as to need a greater degree of physical help. He left to follow the life he loved and had learned from his father. He became the local repair/maintenance man for the area providing for the constant needs of locals while having more time to care for his mother. Unfortunately, he also followed his father’s tendency toward poaching and even theft, if needed, which kept him constantly under the watchful eye of the constabulary. As yet, nothing had been proven against the well-liked young man, but when a series of vicious crimes begin under the guise of paying for ‘protection of one’s property’, Dan is the obvious main suspect. The story evolves as he extracts himself from any involvement in the criminal activity. Presentation of further details of the intelligent manner in which he reasons with his extensive knowledge of the land, its people and wildlife, would be a disservice to prospective readers.

Discussion: The author has set forth a fascinating tale that takes place in a rural area of Scotland. The protagonist’s knowledge of the terrain, its wildlife and the residents of area, plus his intellectual ability to search out and amalgamate the manner in which the facts and activity intermesh present an unusual tale of mystery. The pace and setting may not be acceptable to some, but I believe most readers who enjoy mystery stories will enjoy this book.

5* Enjoyable, well-thought-out and acceptably presented Mystery.

 

Centricity

Centricity: A Sci-Fi Espionage Thriller presumed published, copyright and written by Nathaniel Henderson.
Briefly, the plot follows the activities of several individualistic ‘loners’ who are attempting to function in a dystopian society that is highly compartmentalized but open to subcontractors and overseen by a CIA- or FBI-like central body that is able to discern their actions and thought patterns through various implants and take drastic action if anything contrary to the government’s interest is suspected. Past wars and resultant chaotic results are mentioned as is the occurrence of N-81 a mutating, airborne virus highly contagious during its incubation that wreaked havoc.
Discussion: From this reviewer’s perspective, nothing more can be offered with respect to this book without an explanation of the book’s basics. Specifically, it is a tale in the apparently quite rapidly growing sub-genre of sci-fi called Cyberpunk – succinctly described by Lawrence Person in Wikipedia as “Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body.”
The book opens with a preface by the author thanking the reader ‘for plugging into the first instalment of the Centricity Cycle and an explanation of how his interest in this particular thrust for sci-fi stories occurred so that he felt compelled to combine this type of ‘techno-baroque world with his love of James Bond and thriller masters such as Tom Clancy to present his own type of tales’. He has done exactly this with a beautifully written, well-paced story complete with interesting characters. For readers new to this new phase of the psi-fi genre, quite fortunately, at the end of the book he provides an explanation of the rather extensive list of principle characters of the Naion Government, its Military and Corporate members in order of importance followed by those of Cheyvata’s Empire and a schematic of the Naion Hierarchy. Regrettably, a slight oversight caused a delay in explanations of certain of the terms being offered until after they had been used for a time; e.g. a good explanation of nimphs – “Neuronal Interface Multi-Process Hubs – not quite proper but often referred to all brainware including peripherals, software and synt assistants that managed them. They “allowed for the mental control of bodytech, including implants and wearables, but had limitations in trouble-shooting since they relied on local control programs to inform. If the local programs were missing the point, so would the nymph.” This explanation did not appear until Chapter 10.

5* Well-written/-paced/-characterized cyberpunk thriller; strong caveat for pragmatists.

The Haunting of the Falcon Creek Lodge

The Haunting of the Falcon Creek Lodge published, copyright and written by Roger Hayden.

The story opens with three relatively wealthy men of different careers having a festive dinner at an opulent hotel in a heavily forested section remote from the nearest popular summer vacation town of Cedarville. This was their second meeting of old friends and missed only one member, Bryce Phillips. He had pleaded illness, unfortunately, and was the only one of the four who still resided in the town of which he was the Mayor. As the evening progresses, the three friends continue to indulge in alcoholic beverages, are served dinner and then accosted by a young waiter who kills one of the members with a hunting rifle, driving the others out into the snow storm to escape where they freeze to death. The youth is tried and convicted of murder, although he claims to have memory of the incidents as they occurred. This is followed in 1950 by visitation to the now vacant and reputedly haunted hotel by a TV host famous for his presentations of from such structures. He and his entire crew are completely destroyed by what appears to be unknown sources rumored again to be from some occult source.

The scene shifts to the present when Greg Barrett visits from Syracuse, N.Y., a four hour drive away. Tom Schultz and old buddy and top resident real estate agent of Cedarville, has invited him to see a property that presents a ‘fantastic opportunity’. The former owner of the Lodge has passed away, his son has completely rebuilt and restored the Lodge to its former splendor and has placed it on the market at an exceedingly attractive figure. Greg is a trained hotel/restaurant manager with a responsible position in Syracuse, but anxious to expand beyond. He visits, decides he wants to buy it, bring his wife and her son, with whom he has been able to establish a more or less empathetic relationship, to visit. She concurs reluctantly with his decision, but the son is quite unimpressed. Regardless, they move to the Lodge and the story again unfolds with weird and even dangerous occurrences gradually escalading in appearance. Their occurrences, causes, and results all provide the substance of the rest of the book. Activities that this reviewer agrees with the author’s request that any further description would be a complete disservice to the anticipated readers.

Discussion/Summary: The plot if this book is worthy of interest for the prospective reader of the occult and more especially ghost stories involving ‘haunted houses’. All of the required elements are included including a considerable amount of graphic violence and its result. Regrettably however, the presentation is quite flawed. It is somewhat fragmentally presented, characters indulge in seemingly uncharacteristic manner upon occasion, the pragmatist last owner of the Lodge and his cavalier-like like approach is difficult to endure and missing and/or misspelled words are abundant. In summary, for the reader who enjoys the ‘haunted’ elements that are described to be included in this book. it will be quite enjoyable. Regrettably for those who are disturbed by the editing and proofing oversights, this is not an easy read.

3* Apropos Discussion/Summary.