The Andean Cross

The ANDEAN CROSS ISBN: 9781648038372 Westwood Books copyright and written by Lawrence Clayton.

The story begins by ushering the reader into the world of mystery, cruelty and intrigue heralded by the Conquistadores and their invasion and mutilation of the culture and peoples on the New World under the guise of Christianity. Mathew Weston, a relatively young Texas History Professor, is on a summer break and joins a group looking for the wreck of a Spanish Galleon lost on its trip back to Spain with treasure. The unusual Andean Cross purportedly was included among the gold and silver that was lost during its journey to Spain from the Land of the Incas in 1544. The expedition make positive discoveries and he is fortunate to obtain funding to establish a dive team to investigate further the supposedly exact spot where the vessel was sunk in the Bay of Panama. But even before his obtaining this grant, the story initiates leads with respect to this particular shipment. It appears that the description of all of the items is not to be divulged. The nature of this secrecy and the underlying reasons provide the fundamentals upon which the author has constructed this unique historical, religious, suspenseful mystery with a large component of romance. Clair Snowden, an expert on one phase of history pertinent to some of the artifacts also is a member of the team and she and Weston gradually attain a level of understanding that reaches new heights for them both as the story continues to provide further information about the long rumored extent of the early dissemination of Christianity by its apostles.

Discussion: The author appears to be well known for his scholarly approach to the early rise of the Christian religion. The sites have been well researched as well as the material and the entire package is relatively well-assembled. Fundamentally, this is a plot driven tale in which a large group of characters are gathered together, and although somewhat vaguely presented as to exact positions within the story occasionally, function well. Regrettably for this reviewer, occasional character activities appropriate to the story are difficult to accept when assembled within the picture the author’s earlier descriptions have provided to build a mental picture of a person; e.g., Mathew is presented as a well-trained, knowledgeable diver who can qualify to gain a grant for money sizeable enough to run a dive team, yet he can almost pass out in a simple faint when thoughts occur to him about possible repercussions about his possession of the Andean Cross illegally, ‘because it provides a needed advancement for the overall forward motion of the plot’. Unfortunately, attributing such an action to a certified Deep Sea Diver will be unacceptable to most even slightly knowledgeable individuals and impossible for anyone with any information of the rigors of the required training alone. However, for the average historical fantasy, thriller, mystery, romance devotee this is a story that will satisfy in all areas. For the more casual reader, following the plot as it develops still will provide an interesting story and possibly new thoughts with respect to some aspects of the origins of Christianity.

4* 5* multi-genre plot-driven tale for many readers; at least 4* for most.

HOPE

HOPE published by Dandelion Books Ltd., copyright and written by Julian Papadia.

Sub-titled He wanted to give her freedom, she wanted her daughter back, the story opens in Rickmansworth – Hertfordshire, a coastal small town on the outskirts of London. The protagonist is raging over the telephone. From this early point in the book, the reader is confronted with a quite confusing, constantly twisting tale that involves his once idyllic life with an adored wife and loving young son and daughter. There were difficulties because he, Paul, was a prominent detective in this small English town, and she the same in a Paris, France Police Department. The death of his young daughter, through a situation that both felt was his fault further complicates the story as do the cause of his telephone explosion because the matter about which he is complaining is the unacceptable early release of a prominent Mafia-type Boss’s son after his being the main accuser sending him to prison for a lengthy term. Adding still another problem is his acquisition of a teen age escapee from a religious cult compound who admits killing her mother and father within. The story now begins shifting between Paul’s home town, which is the area within which the compound is situated, and Paris where a brilliant woman surgeon has been taken under the protective wing of his ex-wife in the search for her missing husband who probably is dead and her beloved daughter, missing but possibly still alive after a terrorist attack blew up a visitor’s center in Paris, where her husband and she were going with the child on a vacation. Her delay was the result of having to operate on an enormously wealthy British Legend. After much activity on both situations a final solution is reached.

Discussion/Summary: Spoiler Alert (?) To reiterate, this is a tale with several greatly convoluted plots where the large number of twists and turns are confusing but simultaneously intriguing. Even more confusing is the manner in which the story is presented. Much of the pertinent information is withheld until late in the book. Additionally, a considerable amount of the action, both by the story-teller English detective Paul, and by the surgeon looking for her daughter, seems quite below the age and intelligence level required to reach their levels of accomplishment. So in summary, this reviewer has been left to dichotomize. The suspense/thriller devotee most probably will be intrigued at a high level. The more pragmatic reader, although probably discovering the seeds of an interesting plot(s?) no doubt will be disappointed in the need for good editing.

3*at best. 5 for suspense/thriller devotees; 3 or less, general readership.

The GOLD TRAIN

The Gold Train ISBN: 97817337277, Dos Hermanos Publishing, a Mason and Thorn Western, copyright and written by Larry Richardson and Tom Richardson.

The authors again have embarked upon providing their readers with another in the series following the adventures of their seemingly popular protagonists Mason and Thorn. Thorn is the retired U. S. Marshal for whom Mason worked and he and his wife Amanda are ranchers attempting to save their cattle ranch after another of the devastatingly big freezes that periodically devastate the area ranches. Mason is Thorn’s replacement as U. S. Marshal for the territory and appears to be, along with his wife Grace, in his twenties. The destruction of the huge number of cattle actually proves most helpful for the new Marshal because Thorn is willing to serve as Deputy in the Marshall’s new assignment of seeing the new shipment of gold be safely transferred from Denver to the local area bank. The shipment is close to one million dollars and if this is not enough of a problem. Grace and Amanda want to enter the local auto race as participants for the $10,000 prize money being offered. The manner in which these two plots are developed and intertwined,, along with the skullduggery involved and the new interesting characters introduced form the body of this tale depicting the beginning of a new era of activity in the developing western part of the developing America.

Discussion: The manner in which the authors have presented this fundamentally double plotted story is quite fascinating. Its attendant sub-plots and introduction of characters, as well as handling their activity, is quite appealing. Their stories and reasons largely are credible and create empathy, the pace of the action is good, the interplay of the plots acceptable and the new material presented with respect to this era in the ‘new’ west quite enjoyable. Generally speaking, this is a most enjoyable read for anyone with even a modicum of interest in the early development of the western part of the United States.

5* especially for anyone interested in early Americana.

The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary is first of a new series, published, copyright and written by Larry Richardson and is a truly entertaining story delivered in the time-honored manner of all of the good ‘story tellers’ of old. It begins with the killing of the wife of Vincent Marshall by the prominent and formerly untouchable Mafia Boss, Santino Giovani’ A spectacular court scene describes the face-off between the two men with subsequent assignment of Giovani to Federal Prison and necessitates Vincent’s assignment to the Witness Protection Program. Meanwhile,  Phil Branson, a rapidly rising General Manager in one of the largest Retirement Living Organizations is offered to leave his highly successful position in Orlando to take over the similar, but foundering organization, in Billings, Montana with the firing of their manager. From this moment a steady mystery thriller begins to develop and expand with a side of possible rising romantic attachment for this man who lost the love of his life shortly after an idyllic relation with this wife. The sub-plots are many and beautifully intermingled as this Retirement Home the Sanctuary had been selected as the scene of the Witness Protection Program; an assassin ‘who never failed had been hired by the Giovani family was closing in on Vincent; pieces of evidence against the former Sanctuary General Manager was playing with the CEO of the General Organization: a dedicated cop was working diligently with Phil in his attempting to gain the required evidence; and the one girl who seemed ready to replace Phil’s lost love suddenly was offered a career choice that would fulfil the dreams of her childhood.

Discussion: The author has set forth a mystery, thriller romance that should appeal to every aficionado of any of these genres as well as those readers who, as stated earlier, enjoy a well-paced, well-characterized, and intermingling of interesting and well-designed plots.

5* Highly recommended

Leviathan Rising

Leviathan Rising A USS Bull Shark Naval Thriller, Book Two, published and copyright by Scott W. Cook and Spindrift Press and written by Scott W. Cook.

The author has set forth a thriller following the engagement of two submarines during the American Japanese hostilities of WWII. The vessels are constructed quite differently from those routinely composing the fleets of these two opponents. Each has been constructed with features providing aid to allow them to provide destruction to the other while on the surface rather than in the usual below surface manner of function. Added are an underling problem between the captain and his executive officer; a prominent member of the crew who is a drug user/dealer; the man’s accomplices, one of who has provided information to the authorities; Japanese and American spies, counter spies and or double agents; all gathered together to determine the condition of the other’s surrendered ship.

Discussion: Not having read the first volume, this is a seemingly plot driven tale with little background of the characters, but an intriguing, fast moving story that presents a most enjoyable few hours of reading.

5* Enjoyable read

Arnolfini Art Mysteries 2

Arnolfini Art Mysteries 2 ISBN: 978190053059 (eBook), an imprint of Digital Vista written by Rich DiSilvio.

The author has set forth for the prospective reader a most interesting series of mysteries ranging from almost priceless pieces of art to prominent architectural structures. The protagonist is a private investigator whose vocation/avocation is to appraise the authenticity of these objects for Museums and other interested individuals/groups who are willing to pay the expenses as well as the fees for which such unique ability is rendered. The first of the investigation the protagonist, Armand Arnolfini, describes in this book is of the authenticity of the long-lost Leonardo daVinci’s “Leda and the Swan” which his father maneuvers him into doing after setting-up Armand’s marriage to Andrea St. John, a young woman he found to be able to replace an irreplaceable wife who he had passed away a few years earlier. The marriage took place in a storied castle in Belgium with a list of attendees that was a list of the elite of the art world. From this initial offering the story travels through a number of other investigations of prominent pieces of art, buildings associated with architect/artists and then to a fascinating tale about the at one time tallest architectural structure in the world, the Woolworth building in the United states.

Discussion: the descriptions provided by the author are replete with details of an opulent manner of life only imagined by most as well as fascinating details of the varied and often serendipitous path these investigations can take. The amount of fiction included within the body of this work only can be judged by how much the reader knows about the art and architectural world and those who participate and/or have participated through the centuries. Definitely a rivet and ‘must read’ for anyone interested in investigations and especially for those having any interest and/or curiosity about art and architecture.

5* Riveting if interested in investigative art and/or architecture.

Song of Eagles

Song of Eagles ISBN: 9780786037568 Pinnacle Books Published, copyright and written by William W. Johnstone.

Once again the author has provided a story about the ‘Old West’ which is labeled fiction largely because so much of the history contains so many questions with respect to activity, characters involved and the frequent requirement of including fictional character(s) to piece together a smooth sequence and/or explain ‘missing parts’ or logical reasons for the action that had occurred. In this case the author has told a tale of the Lincoln County War which was a complicated and bloody affair begun and continued by a basic greed that involved and extended to include, many unscrupulous men and eventually even to split friendships to a deadly degree. It included numerous men well known for various reasons including the infamous William Bonney (Billy the Kid) and his friendship with Pat Garret, the eventually appointed Sheriff of Lincoln County. Additionally, attempting to explain much of this period’s history with respect to the fate of the actual characters such as William Bonney, “Buch Cassidy” and others has been most difficult because of the amount of credible material that provides a different demise than the one reported and accepted at the time.

Discussion/Conclusion: Little material actually can be added to that already set forth in the above description. Many stories of this period are replete with inexplicable facts and/or credible explanations of differences between ‘facts’ accepted at the time and ‘facts’ that emerge in later years. The author has ‘pieced together’ a most enjoyable story of another of these ‘tales of the Old West’.

5* for readers who may not even be Western devotees.

The Girl from Columbia

 

The Girl from Columbia ISBN: 9781642378900 Gatekeeper Press, copyright and written by Julian Rodrigues.

This is a story covering a significant portion of time and activity that had taken place in Columbia and the United States before 1884 where the story begins in Sea Girt, New Jersey and extends well into the next century. The author offers some introductory remarks referring to a story by Guy de Maupassant that presents, perhaps somewhat mystical characters that are most representative of those set forth in his own forthcoming tale. It is one of tragedy resultant of the unscrupulous activity of several totally amoral, vicious men as they proceed through life with seemingly only hedonistic goals and acquirement of personal wealth and more significantly, power. The action begins with a general depiction of the Columbian youngster and her activities in rather ghostlike familiarization to obtain knowledge of all of the nooks and crannies of her father’s huge house. Also gradually exposed are a description of the father’s (Samuel Johnson) personal appearance, undesirable traits, alliances, and the eventual consequences as other characters appear and are incorporated into the mixture.

Discussion: The author has set forth a dark story of abuse of power, not only of personal love, but of against an entire class of people. It is a tale of the effects of the despicably deceitful acts of a man who acquires power and money and employs it literally in almost inhumane ways that are destructive to many individuals. The characters associated with, as well as those contrary to, his desired goals are appropriately introduced and gradually developed with respect both to reasons for, and action taken against, the man. The book does exhibit some author unfamiliarity with some aspects of the book which would enhance enjoyment, but this no doubt will be unnoticed by most readers.

5* Unusual, relatively fast-paced, dark mystery/suspense

The Helpers

The Helpers Library of Congress # 2010902607 assumed published, copyright (2010) and written by S. E. Nelson.

This is “A (fictional) International Tale of Espionage and Corruption” set in the African Congo. It is a tangled web of activities involving primarily French and Belgium internationally military and diplomatic trained members of these governments assigned to espionage positions in this country. Numerous other individuals of English and various other nationalities also are involved in this quite intricately involved plot that explores and lays bare the power hungry rulers of Colonial times and presents a picture of how pervasive it was and of the possibilities of the existence of persistent remnants of similar activity. Several major characters are murdered along the way with a few making it through to the end, mainly a dedicated American Free-lance Journalist and her photojournalist partner, a small local schoolgirl and her mother, a British world health worker and his wife, a wily French Intelligence Officer and his protégé, also some of “The Helpers” – the powerful secret group that is responsible for the constant warfare and “ethnic cleansing” that constantly causes the mass murders repetitiously occurring and set in position by their minions. The action is non-stop from beginning to end, and even beyond because the story makes most clear the fact that the use and misuse of power is a never-ending commodity in world affairs with seemingly special emphasis on Africa and its abundance of natural resources

Discussion: The author has set forth an intriguing multi-genre thriller that includes mystery, suspense, a degree of romance and large quantities of distrust, betrayal, treachery, deception and deceit. It also includes strong demonstrations of empathetic behavior and well fleshed-out characters. The story begins with a “Brief Synopsis” explaining the Congo and their interrelationship with “The Helpers”, a “very powerful underground organization whose members include international businessmen and high priests (who) are determined to maintain a stronghold on the natural resources of Congo.” In all, it is a long story that still will hold most readers interest throughout, even though the frequent switches to different characters, their thoughts and activities, do add considerably to the rather abundant repetition and redundancy as the author has handled it sufficiently well that most will not find it too annoying.

4* Long, but hard to put down, fast-paced multi-genre book, with noted slight flaws.

Stories of the Night

Stories of the Night ISBN: 9780996527385 Two Tales publishing, copyright and written by J. T. Ellison.

Sub-titled “A Bundle of Shadowy Tales”, this short collection of dark stories consists of Catwood, a monologue by an unfortunately mentally disturbed girl; Gray Lady, Lady Gray a tale involving the occult and of a young couple desiring and participating in a ‘dream wedding’ in an old Scottish castle and its aftermath with a follow-up description by the author about research done prior to the story; The Endarkening, another most unusual occult tale again followed by the author’s interesting notations; The Omen Days, a story following the activities of a Nashville, Tennessee Police Officer who cannot bring himself to enjoy especially this time of Christmas and the 12 days following after losing the love of his life 7 years previously – again an usual tale involving the occult and the Author’s provision of the meaning of the Omen Days. This story only partly fits into the dark nature of the others. The book seemingly then ends with About the Author and a list of her books that are available. But then an oversize SURPRIZE! Offers a SNEAK PEEK! An excerpt from her “latest standalone thriller, LIE TO ME published “in the fall 2017.” It is termed “a domestic noir”.

Discussion: According to the material supplied, this is a well-received author who prides herself on unusual stories following dark thoughts with occult features and unusual twists. This book appears to follow her usual production and should be thoroughly enjoyed by her usual readers and those who enjoy similar themes.

3* 5* for readers specified; regrettably -2* for this reader’s estimation of general reading interest.