Hunt for Harald’s Gold

Hunt for Harald’s Gold ISBN: 9780996657396, assumed published, copyright and written by Jack Dancer.

This book is sub-titled A Scottish DNA Love Story and appears in part to have some semblance to these elements. Ostensibly a group of twosomes has been gathered together who have been discovered to be DNA-matched lovers to journey to Scotland to search for a huge gold nugget that has been lost for centuries. The group’s leader is a physician specializing in DNA research who had spent time in Africa where she encountered strange characters who pop up later in the story while the couples are searching for the huge nugget. Simultaneously it seems that a large group of African school girls had been captured by Boko Haram, transferred to an evil woman doctor who dismembers them to sell body parts as requested, on the black-market. Her headquarters and laboratories are on the Isle of Skye. One of the recruited members of the DNA couples is Tucker, who is the designated partner of Billie, the DNA specialist leading the couples on the nugget search. The reader discovers that he has had a former encounter with the evil doctor that has left scars, in spite of being partially successful. The other group members are of varied backgrounds and many not what they supposedly represent. The body part suppliers and the gold hunters cross paths by design as we discover and the tale proceeds to no ending but rather this volume serves as a first installment for the next.

Discussion: On the good side, readers may find much of the book to be an amusing read with a mass of action contributing in a highly confusing manner. A caveat must be include however in that there is abundant, often irrelevant sexual activity and most graphic depiction of un-anesthetized anatomical destruction. Furthermore and regrettably, from this reviewer’s perspective, the author has written a totally confusing volume with a bizarre admixture of Scottish legend, the fairy world, romance, a bit of science, activity by an unusual transgender hero and many improbabilities typically found in the fantasy genre. It also apparently is the first in a series.

Summary: A multi-genre book for readers who enjoy zany tales and don’t mind reading serials.

3* 4* Multi-genre zany tale for devotees; others 3 – 2*.

You Owe Me

You Owe Me, a mystery/thriller copyright, assumed published in e-book and written by Kerry J. Costello.
Plot: An American Serviceman saves the life of a British counterpart in an unusual situation during their mutual service in Iraq in 2003. It is a deed performed in passing with neither having previous knowledge even of the other’s existence. The ‘saved’ Frankie Armstrong, overwhelmed with gratitude, tells the American, Joe Nelson ‘He owes him and to call whenever he is in need”. In March of 2017 he receives a call from Joe, now the owner of a boat yard in Naples, FL, opening with “And remember the very last thing you said to me when we last met?” Frankie responds with “I remember I said I owe you if that’s what you mean?” He is answered in the affirmative simply pressuring him to come to Florida to help him find his young nephew Billy Ray who, with his friend Jerry are treasure-seeking divers, but has disappeared without a trace. Frankie, after drifting rather aimlessly for some period of time, joins with army buddie Derek Barnes (Barnsie), to become co-founders of a security agency in GB. He seems to be financially secure, his much-loved wife Penny has just left him for another woman and he is contemplating suicide. The call actually provides an opportunity for him to reconsider. He travels to Florida, meets Joe and begins his search. It seems the nephew, besides diving, also is quite a Lothario and has absconded with the wife of a notoriously vicious and extremely wealthy mobster and is assumed to be somewhere in hiding. The tale continues from this point, gradually building to a satisfying climax with all loose strings gathered together.
Discussion: The author has set forth an interesting fictional take on some historical facts. The resulting plot rambles a bit but offers sufficient interesting aspects to make the reader want to continue through to the end. From this reviewer’s perspective it should be of greatest interest to those who enjoy plot-based stories. Again perhaps for this reader alone, the characters are not particularly well-developed and it is most difficult, at least for this reader, to develop much empathy with other than unfortunately rather distasteful ones for Joe for reasons with which the reader may or not concur. Additionally, judicious editing would present a more coherent tale with far less repetitive material. So, to reiterate, this is a very imaginatively developed story that once begun, begs to be finished.
3* 4* imaginative story; 3* for flaws as described.

Dying for Justice

Dying for Justice, a mystery with romance overtones, copyright and written by Pauline Isaksen.

Plot/Characters: A prologue describes how sixteen-year-old Michael Bradley happened to kill the top candidate for the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer as he was hunting with Michael’s father on the Bradley’s spacious estate. He swears he shot at a deer, but no tracks could be found and he is charged with criminal negligence. Beautiful Julia Ainsworth did not follow her Nigerian born mother Elizabeth’s passion for art but studied law instead. Perhaps because Elizabeth apparently had little artistic talent other than recognizing it or more probably because Julia and her father became much closer after her mother’s death. Julia now is a lawyer in her father Jack’s prestigious London law firm. Unfortunately, he has become quite heavily involved in politics that is taking much of his time so he asks Julia to defend the boy as he is the son of his close friends Tom and Nicole. Julia, on visits with Tom and Nicole and then with Michael, uses a desktop device that contained a “Stress Detector Analysis Program” which “…was able to identify various types of stress levels, cognitive processes and emotional reactions.” The program is one suggested by Julia’s long-time friend Danny, who has a rather inexplicable relationship with various ‘dark’ groups. He suggests she consult with his good friend Chris, who is most knowledgeable in interpreting these programs, Chris is a former governmental operative now working in the private sector, handsome, recently divorced and the loving father of two very young children. He confirms her suspicion of Michael’s innocence, yet there is absolutely no evidence to support such a conclusion. Therefore, the boy enters a guilty plea which for several cogent reasons will reduce his sentence to a matter of little more than one and one half years of incarceration. She still cannot accept his confinement and continues her attempts to find an answer to the puzzling situation. As a number of most unusual clues emerge she comes closer to the truth, attempts are made on her life and her father urges her to leave the case alone. She continues, more clues are discovered, relationships are established, devastating revelations made and startling actions taken that provide an end result that many readers will not expect.

Discussion: The author has written an enjoyable first novel. The plot is interesting in the twists provided and the pace and verbalization good. There are a few features that could make the story a little more enjoyable, at least from this reader’s perspective. Most prominent was attempting to empathize with any of the characters. Danny and his relationship with members of the Ainsworth family had no explanation. Similarly that of Chris and his ex-wife, and both with Danny and the explosive reaction by Chris. Further, a loving relationship between Chris and Julia developed really only because it seemed reasonable; i.e. they were provided with little help and even Julia and some of her thought processes, reactions and emotions were marginal. Another basically disquieting feature is the description of the hunting incident – relationship of prologue as descried with respect to preparation, persons involved and the subsequent material – all are difficult to resolve for anyone who has hunted,

However to reiterate, the author has written an enjoyable book. The comments offered here simply are suggestions that this reader believes will provide more fully developed tales in the future.

3* 4* first endeavor; 3* as explained.