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.

 

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.

When Blood Whispers

When Blood Whispers published, copyright and written by Richard Devall.

The book is subtitled “A Bad Date Forensic Thriller” and opens with “This story begins with a supercharged lift-off and doesn’t stop until the end.” An explanation follows that Wendy, a young woman had met Steven Porowski through a dating site and leaves their table in a restaurant he had selected when she is disturbed by his behavior. He follows immediately and threatens her before she can drive away. The story unfolds as his psychotic behavior intensifies and involves her sister Jennifer when  he sends pornographic material to her young son, and sets – up her husband Hunter as his killer after disappearing while abducting Hunter’s new ‘love of his life’ that already has set huge problems in motion in his family situation. Her mother also becomes involved and together turn into a pretty relentless team of sleuths leading to a chase of the demented Porowski and the kidnapped young woman. The ending is ‘different’.

Discussion: As provided in the opening remarks, the story provides the ‘supercharged lift-off’ and follows through as predicted with episodes of high suspense. The characters are well ‘fleshed out’, the pace is fast and the tale is well-written. Thus, regrettably and apologies, because seemingly only for this reader, some of the action and thought patterns exhibited by some characters were difficult to accept as pertinent to the character and/or situation.

3* 5* psychological/suspense/thriller; -2* for this reader as described.

Road to the Breaking

Road to the Breaking ISBN: 9781733107949 published, copyright and written by Christopher Bennett.

Book 1 of historical fiction in an anticipated four book series that by way of explanation opens with a quotation by Billy Creek, an Indian Scout, U.S. Army, 8th Infantry:
“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 story opens in March 15, 1860 – South of Fort Davis, Texas. As 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. And this trait 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’. Acceptance of his resignation, outfitting for the trip and the distance to be covered will take several weeks at best and his mother already is experiencing tremendous pressure from the inheriting son of the neighboring plantation. A running feud between the two deceased owners is being re-opened by the young man who is taking ruthless and totally unfair advantage of Nathaniel’s mother. This first book sets the stage for the ensuing series.

Discussion: The author has initiated what appears to be the beginning of an enjoyable tale of the pre-civil war and probably some parts of the ensuing conflict. He has approached a difficult job admirably considering all of the elements required in such an endeavor. He has set the stage by including all of them and imbued the story with tension and anticipation for the next volume. Granted, a certain amount of ‘filler’ has been added that slows the tale’s forward thrust, but generally acceptable and pertinent to character development. An intriguing beginning.

5* Pre-civil war novel with tremendous possibilities.

Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage ISBN: 9780985370282, published, copyright and written by Susan Cory.

This is the 4th volume in the Iris Reid Mystery Series, a series that employs the world of architectural design for its plot. The protagonist, Iris Reid has discovered a source of deep love and committed to living with Luc Cormier, an excellent chief whose restaurant had gained sufficient recognition to be considered for the acclaimed James Beard Award for culinary arts attainment. The restaurant kitchen and dining room conveniently occupied the entire ground floor of an old place in Cambridge, Massachusetts that was available at a very affordable price. She had completely redesigned the building in this manner and utilized the entire 2nd floor to install their living quarters along with an office for her architectural activities. In continuing work in her own area of expertise, Iris began redesigning an old abandoned building for Ash, a very talented young artist who had been able to purchase it because ‘the price was right’. All is progressing nicely until a series of totally unexpected ‘happenings’ begin. A huge fire of suspicious origin destroys a portion of the young artist’s building and is followed by another at an abandoned well on the property that contains bones of a human that police are able to identify. As the building’s owner, he immediately becomes the main suspect until later on Ash, the young artist himself, is the victim of a gun shot from a passing vehicle. These developments tie in with other events already set forth and an almost unbelievably convoluted and interwoven tale of betrayal, deceit, treachery, self-preservation, lost and/or misplaced love all are combined to present a mystery for which further details would only serve as a disservice to a prospective reader.

Discussion: The author has introduced, at least for this reader, a new and unique area for a mystery tale. As a well-qualified and actively engaged architect, she has successfully endowed her protagonist with the same abilities and set forth a mystery that involves many emotions. Unfortunately I have not read the previously written books in the series and must say that most credibly, this volume can very easily stand completely on its own, providing a tale mystery lovers will not want to put down.

5* Most unusual mystery/suspense/love story readers should love.

Inherent Greed

Inherent Greed ISBN: 9781734436167 Authoraide Publications, copyright and written by Carney Vaughan.

The author opens with a synopsis of the story that explains a man by the name of Cameron Parmentor “a self-swerving, cunning, cold-blooded adult, matures with eyes upon a career in Australian federal politics” and describes the manner in which he achieves his desired position. It further introduces two police officers who are captured on film exchanging a large amount of cash in a situation deemed to be corrupt. One of them disappears and the other, Jack Penrose, is cashiered from the force with only his word to verify that is was in return for a debt owed to him. A battered housewife neighbor to whom he is kind is the only one who believes him but then both are declared murders when her husband is killed. The story follows their attempts to evade capture and brings into the tale a large number of other characters that play important roles leading to a most interesting and unexpected climax.

Discussion: This is an account of a sociopathic killer that begins slowly but gradually evolves into a circuitous trail of events that are unraveled only by the tenacity of a woman journalist of sorts along with help from her husband, a retired detective, the disgraced policeman and a couple of Parmentor’s heavily affected victims.

5* Absorbing tale mystery readers will not want to put down.

When She Touches

When She Touches ISBN: 9781688985490 assumed published by, copyright and written by Sheryl M. Frazer.

Subtitled “A Discovery of Destiny and a gift Like No Others” this is a novel extending from the mid-1900s to the present. It is an unusual story following Genevieve as she, recipient of abstract dreams beginning in childhood, experiences another informing that she ‘will understand once her daughter is born’. The young, newly married Mrs. Walker thought someday, but right now began recalling the fairy tale like, so wonderfully enjoyable romance and wedding to her most thoughtful and wonderful husband still sleeping beside her. From this moment the reader is taken on a strange journey where the young girl, born to a mother who seemed to want nothing to do with the child, is raised by her adoring grandparents and eventually discovers that she has a strange gift in that she can communicate with a person’s soul. This reviewer believes that providing even one more modicum of information would be a total disservice to the prospective reader.

Discussion: In spite of occasional minor glitches, this book and its anticipated sequel provide one of the more unique tales this reader has encountered. The plot about ‘a soul reader’ is nowhere even vaguely close to the tawdry image that may come to mind. The characters are engaging, even captivating at times and their interwoven nature intriguing. The pace is excellent and the anticipation set in motion by the idea of a sequel’s plot is one of the most compelling this reader has encountered.

5* If you enjoy the unusual, you will not want to miss this one.

Erasing the Past

Erasing the Past Assumed published, copyright and written by Geri L. Dreiling.     

There is a sub-title stating that this is “A novel about love, betrayal and second chances” and genre suggestions that include fiction, sci-fi, suspense and romance. Prologue opens in Forrest Park, St. Louis with the Art Museum setting atop the green hill that descends to an area providing a superb view of the Grand Basin. The day is beautiful, young lovers are strolling arm-in-arm with the occasional shy kiss and all appears to be well with the world, except for one old man with a badly affected left arm who disconsolately seats himself on a convenient bench. He opens a copy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, spots a photograph of two people in the gossip column and begins to sob. A young woman asks if he is alright. He answers simply that he was alone, in his pain, his regret and his pain, but that was not always the way. Once upon a time he, and they, were happy but that all is changed. His “future has vanished, and the present laid waste; all because the past was erased”. The first chapter then opens in April of 2008, and thus begins a tale of seeming remorse by an old man who regrets his life-long self-centered activities and rigid thought patterns that have ruined his life and driven the love of his life into the arms of another man as well as ruining his career. His life possibly may not be as he believes at this point in time however, but providing further details of the story would be a huge disservice to potential readers.

Discussion: The author has set forth a story about a self-centered man with a deep love for a beautiful woman who basically and most unfortunately, places a great amount of emphasis on personal appearance although also with a driving internal need to have children. However, he is not without faults in that he is self-centered with a degree of paranoia and an underlying rigidity in the fundamental roles of the man and woman in a marital situation. These differences provide the basis of this well-written, only slightly flawed, tale of their impact upon an otherwise happy marriage of twenty plus years.

5* Interesting marital relationship the book’s subtitle well describes.

Grand Masquerade

Grand Masquerade Born Publishing copyright and written by Stephen C. Perkins.

Setting: The setting for the story is the small town of Rupert, Vermont with its surrounding farmland and dense forests. The town is small but seemingly prosperous with well-run stores and farms with a particularly large dairy that also provides a far better than to be expected Bed & Breakfast that also includes a series of well positioned hunting blinds for those who like especially to hunt deer.

Characters: Outsiders that include a man running for President of the United States; the owner of a technological company that is ‘taking over’ the technology sector of the world by his company’s cutting edge advances; his spoiled well-educated but play-boy son; his long-standing and trusted CFO; his Chinese chief designer; a few lesser characters. Insiders are composed of a sizeable number of residents of Rupert that include the owners of the Dairy/B&B/hunting complex; several of their children; city residents and prominently one daughter of one of the wealthiest; the Sheriff and his Daughter who is somewhat of a ‘bulldog’ investigator; a doctor who is gaining an increasing position of renown as a healer who uses non-invasive techniques. A third set of characters, ‘the Others’, seemingly existing as those of legend and not really existing except as the after results of some form of horrendous activity. Legend has it that they exist because of an unholy alliance they had reached with certain residents of Rupert many years ago.

Plot: The book opens with a gruesome attack on a young boy riding his motorcycle in the dense woods followed by his disappearance. The local Sheriff provides a seemingly plausible reason but the State Police Officers decide to investigate further. They reportedly are attacked of several bears with disastrous results. From this point the reader is taken into a world of political machinations interwoven with the equally corrupt life of business with off shore hidden accounts, deceased individuals who are not dead but living and getting paid as another, and dishonesty, distrust, betrayal, deceit, and treachery rampant. All of these activities gradually interweaving with features concerning the legendary “Others”.

Discussion: The author has set forth a quite intriguing mixture of politics, unprincipled business tactics, personal greed, lack of morality, seeming lack of ability to have any semblance of deep affection all overshadowed by a mystically malignant power in which it is enveloped. A quite intriguing horror (?) story highly recommended.

5* Highly recommended multi-genre/suspense tale.

The Time Before the Moon

The TIME before the MOON ISBN: 9781718974470 published, copyright and written by Kameron Williams.

In a time of the early beginning of man, the reader is introduced to Omi, a young man living in a small group of hunter/gatherers. The enclave is ruled by an elderly Seer who has contact with the gods and dictates all activities purportedly as they direct. He lives in a somewhat elevated area of the gathered dwellings in a sacred temple. The building, seemingly from an even more ancient period is supported by large stone columns decorated with ancient hieroglyphics. The building also serves as the home of the most beautiful young women of the village, selected by the Seer as the vestal virgins. The rules of living within the group are numerous and strict. Among them are a dictate where each resident must report periodically to the Seer at a set time; marriages are arranged by the Seer and announced only after he has made the partner selection but they are not notified of being selected until the day before, nor do they know who their partner will be until they are revealed to the couple themselves as well as their families and the community at a nighttime firelight ceremony. Even flint for the weapons they needed to survive were obtained from flint forays where the contestants needed to wait to be called to participate in attempting to find the better pieces that could be properly knapped into suitable weapons. The forays including not only finding the flint but then successfully retaining it against the onslaught of other foragers. Then they were expected to give their first real find as a gift to the Seer. The story develops as Omi finds a particularly valuable piece of Flint while unexpectedly discovering a number of unusual aspects of the Seer’s rules and their interpretation that lead him into striking out by himself in an attempt to establish an entirely new way of life. The story of his trip, its trials, effects on family, friends and enemies is the substance of the book and further description would be a disservice to the prospective reader.

Discussion: The author has provided characters with whom the reader can equate in a nicely paced tale that follows the often provided good versus evil plot, this time placed in a simple fantasy situation. It is an unsophisticated tale that offers a pleasurable ‘feel good’ sensation seemingly seldom encountered in these days of constant stress and activity. A time of almost chaotic political- health-social-financial crises that appear to be dictating every aspect of today’s individual thought patterns and parenthetically even seem contributory to the large number of books being published that dwell on depressing thoughts and matters.

5* Unsophisticated tale, seemingly pleasurable beyond modern thought patterns.