Toni

The way I see it

"Night of the Assassin", by Russell Blake

Night of the Assassin - Russell Blake

Book# 0.5 in the Assassin series

This prequel to “King of Swords” is a raw and unflinching thriller introducing El Rey, one of Russell Blake’s most brutal characters. 

The book opens with the deadly El Rey as he carries out his latest job- the assassination of a drug cartel boss. Then the story switched to his childhood where we find out how he was groomed to become the most notorious and deadliest assassin known to date. The story is framed against the backdrop of Mexico drug trafficking and in the midst of a bloody war of power. 

The world of Drug cartels depicted in this book is very scary but fortunately the author spares us the many gory details. As the story keeps moving it tells us how El Rey setups his hits and how he manages to get away. No doubt, the plot is fast-paced, one that kept me on the edge waiting for his next move. It is definitely an action filled thriller that grabs attention from the first page and holds it all through. Although violent, I loved this cold blooded killer; El Rey is all what I expected from this kind of character. Mr. Blake excels in moving his plot between characters and scenes and pulling us into the environment of a deadly killer. 

The story is well-written, moves along without getting bogged down and is an easy and captivating read.

"Determined", by A. Avraham Perlmutter

Determined: The Story of Holocaust Survivor Avraham Perlmutter - A. Avraham Perlmutter Ph.D.

With incredible visual additions such as genuine photographs and documentation from the wartime and beyond, Mr. Perlmutter has crafted a no-hold account of his life during WW11 and after.

His memoirs does not emphasizes on the gruesome atrocities committed by the Nazis but rather focuses on the survival of one young man and how he made a successful life for himself in Israel and in the United States after the war. His account touches on some of the people who orchestrated his various escape or hid him from the Nazis. It is an important story that tells how determined even at a young age the need to survive by taking risks and keep pushing the limits in order to succeed. 

The first part of the book focusses on the kindness and generosity he experienced during the war and the multiple miracles that allowed him to survive. The rest of the book concentrates on what happened after the war.

This moving story is unique both in content and in tone. His personal journey with detailed descriptions gives us a glimpse of his adventurous life filled with danger and risks and evokes the feeling of compassion as you walk in the shoes of a brilliant young man determined to survive.

Although the book is a quick read it is also one difficult to follow. The narrative has a plethora of people to keep track of with names hard to remember. The timeline is inconsistent and all over the place for most part till it found a better rhythm then the words flowed at a steady and even pace. It is a bit of a choppy account but having said this, I nevertheless say that Mr. Perlmutter has an amazing memory to have given so many details while providing many photos and documents to support his words.

"All my Love Detrick", by Robert Kagan

All My Love, Detrick - Roberta Kagan

A Historical novel of Love and Survival during The Holocaust

Book #1, in the All My Love Detrick Series

“All My Love Detrick” tells the story of a Jewish girl and a German boy who fall in love just as Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany. This is a very human and a most touching fiction of forbidden love and friendship I read in a long time. The story begins in 1923 when Detrick Haswell was seven years old, the timeline and narrative travels through the 30’s, WW11 and some years later.

This is a sweet story simplistic told in short chapters in everyday language. There is a lot going on, seemed the author wanted to squeeze every important events that happened in the many decades the story covers. It is a bit confusing at times, the tale jumps from place to place from character to character sometimes in mid-chapter. Having said this, I overpassed those hicks and nevertheless stayed captivated throughout. The premise here is good even if the topic of the Holocaust has been touched zillions of times before, it could not be revisited enough IMO. I also believe the author’s scenario could have happened many times over.

I enjoyed this book with its many threads. The many characters are well-crafted and I find myself caring for them all. But mid-way, one seemed to disappear and I still wonder what happened, oh well maybe in book 2….not all the threads were neatly wrapped….again this is a series….who knows what the author has in mind next…..

If you are a historical buff this book may not be for you but if you enjoy a light war story with a lot of romance this one may be up your alley. In whole it is worth reading.

"Identity Thief", by J.P. Bloch

Identity Thief - Spencer J. Bloch

Once you have started this psychological thriller you will not put it down. This quick read with lots of twists has kept me captivated from page one and held my attention through every chapters till I reached the unexpected ending. I simply loved it.

The story is structured in alternating chapters between the view point of the identity thief and the victim, Dr. Jesse Falcon. The plot has layers upon layers of deceit; no one is who they seem. Nothing is simple in this fast-paced, sometime darkly comic thriller. The pieces of the puzzle are continually shifting and at every corner there is constant barrage of shocks, so forget trying to guess the outcome.

This is a cleverly and brilliantly roller-coaster ride filled with emotional and scarring issues. A story of a thief and victim both trying to stay two steps ahead of the other is no less attention grabbing, this one tops all. What set this story from others is you are soon thrust into a world of action with Dr. Jesse Falcon whose identity is stolen going through endless hoops to find the person causing him so much turmoil. You learn and understand the main characters from flashbacks and from their actions and what they are thinking. The supporting cast also have their own plans lurking in the shadows. The narration moves along smoothly making this story easy to read. Well-done. 

"Dancing With Shadows", by Adrian Churchward

Dancing With Shadows (The Puppet Meisters Trilogy) - Adrian Churchward
Book #2, in The Puppet Meisters trilogy

“Dancing With Shadows” is the second book dealing with state abuse of power featuring Scott Mitchell, a human rights lawyer. This sequel to “Moscow Bound” is a gripping and exciting read from start to finish. This time we have Scott on suspicion of laundering $250 million for the Chechen mafia and we follow him through a sea of untrustworthy characters from London, to different Russian cities, to Budapest and Malta in a cat and mouse game while he tries to prove his innocence.

Scott is the lead in this story but many characters we came to know in the first book are re-introduced and play important roles: Ekaterina, Gravchenko and Pravda. Ms. Churchward doesn’t shy away from introducing multiple new characters also. The plot has multiple threads to follow that need our attention and can be overwhelming but the author set the stage expertly by including a group of well-developed players, beautiful surroundings and a touch of gastronomy delights. No doubt, this gripping tale filled with unexpected twists and turns is well worth reading. If you enjoy a thriller rifles with conspiracy and danger and have a soft spot for some Anglo-Russian shenanigans, give this one a try. 

My thanks to NetGalley and to Silverwood Books for the opportunity to read this book
 
 

 

"The Texan", by Ty Patterson

The Texan (Warriors Series Shorts Book 5) - Ty Patterson
Book #5 in the Warriors Short

In this short story Ms. Patterson highlights Roger, one of Zeb Carter’s elite operative. To Texas he goes, he has inherited his foster parents home and farm. He wants to put it up for sale but getting rid of it has many challenges…..

Of course this is a very fast read, not because it is short (80 pages) but because the plot is very well-done and is filled with exciting and intriguing action sequences. This page-turner gives us the opportunity to know more about Roger and what makes him tick. This side story is an asset and complements beautifully the main series, “The Warriors”. 

Excellent story and very addictive mini series
 
 

 

"Doctor Sleep", by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep - Stephen King

The Shining #2

In this sequel to the “Shining” we see booze hound and drifter Dan Torrance finally settling down in a small town in New Hampshire, going to AA meetings and working as a night porter in the local hospice. Being sober, his supernatural talents enable him to help people die peacefully while receiving telepathic messages from a young girl.

This meaty book leisurely describes in gratuitous details scenes of mundane action. It goes on and on and the longer it went on I was hoping that something weird or horrible will happen soon or that some kind of abnormal happening would eventually irrupt to keep me from falling asleep. What a boring story….yes we do have some eerie moments but this book does not deliver a good scare and definitely lacks in brute fright. Having said this, some of the melancholic scenes are very touching especially when Dan accompanies elderly residents during their final moments. Although I may not have cared much for this book it is by far better than its prequel: the sentences are crisper and the imagery far more surprising. As for the characterization: the main player, Dan, lacks brightness and is uninteresting, Abra, the young girl is too perfect, too powerful and too amazing and the True Knot members are a loathsome bunch that were not as frightening beings as those in the “Shinning”. One of the most loveable characters is the therapy cat, what is not to love when a cat can predict the deaths of terminally ill patient and be at their side till their last breath….I said enough; definitely this story was not for me.

Whether you like this book or not “Doctor Sleep” is a far-fetched read that delves into the darkest depths of human frailness….. 

"Last Call", by Phyllis Smallman

Last Call (A Sherri Travis Mystery) (Volume 7) - Phyllis Smallman

Book #7, in the Sherri Travis Mystery

It has been too long between installments, 3 years in fact since Ms. Smallman picked up this series. I missed Sherri and her no nonsense personality. Although the author has not been idle since then, her fertile imagination was set on “Singer Brown Mystery” her latest series. I am mostly happy she came back to her roots and once more with a wonderful touch and oodles of ideas she has plunged one of my favourite protagonists into an entertaining saga. This time Sherri is in Key West with her best friend Marley for a little fun in the sun. Or so they thought. After leaving Rawhide Saloon, Marley vanishes…..

If you are a lover of soft mysteries or an aficionado of female sleuth protagonists you will love this one. What is Florida without a hurricane today we have Alma turning toward Keys West leaving Sherri to look for Marley amidst the chaos of the evacuation. 

This tingling adventure is a fast and fun read very hard to put down. The storyline has a lot of momentum and keeps the tempo all through. Sherri is a colourful and down to earth character who plays well her part and is amazingly well described. The style is simple and a bit wry with a narration that is somewhat rough but this has not distracted me from flipping the pages and enjoying this entertaining story to the max.

Reading Ms. Smallman “The Last Call” is a pleasant change, the story is not taxing at all, you can zip through it in no time and be captivated by Sherri who is thrown into the middle of a mysterious saga searching for Marley accompanied by Lexi Divine, a six-foot drag queen…..what is not to like.

Thank you Ms. Smallman for this ARC

"Macbeth", by Jo Nesbo

Macbeth - Jo Nesbø

A Hogarth Shakespeare tragedy

Ms. Nesbo is the latest bestselling author to have been commissioned to retell a tragedy originally written by Shakespeare and to spin the tale in a modern way for the a 21st century audience, he chose Macbeth. 

“Macbeth “is a thriller about the struggle for power. In Mr. Nesbo’s version the main character “Macbeth”, is the leader of a Swat team in a coastal city where crime is rampant. After a drug bust that went terribly wrong Macbeth and his team must clean up. Power and money becomes the main character’s ambition. He is soon plagued by hallucinations and starts to unravel. In order to get what he thinks is rightfully his, Macbeth does the imaginable…. 

Nesbo’s revamp is an intricate and dark plot weaved in intrigue, passion and the fallibility of the human mind. It is also a gripping drama that enfolds out of guilt, ambitions and moral conflicts. The story is well-written as a police drama the author is known for. It is a hard book to get into with its multiple characters to get to know and a story that is filled with conspiracies and murders to track of; it is not an easy read. It took quite some time before I managed to piece everything together but mid-way without even realizing it I was totally hooked and I could not put this book down so intrigued to see what would come next I kept pushing forward and I could honestly say that by the end I enjoyed this tragedy. 

This dark and gritty crime noir fiction is an excellent addition to join the list of books retelling Shakespeare’s plays by well-known authors. 

I received this ARC from Crown Publishing via NetGalleys

"The Man From Congo", by Ty Patterson

The Man From Congo (Warriors Series Shorts Book 4) - Ty Patterson

Book# 4, in the Warrior Shorts

Another short read I squeezed in between appointments 63 pages is definitely not taxing. Each book has snippets into one of Zeb’s team member. This time in a jam packed action adventure is Bwana.

Young girls are disappearing and most are never found again. After rescuing two girls in Paris from a gang, Gwana sets to find those behind the trafficking ring. His quest will bring him to Russia and his tracking will lead him to a familiar place in the Congo. 

Great storyline, filled with action and suspense. The plot although too short is strong with vivid scenes. We know a little more about Gwana, this huge and very capable ex-special forces agent.

I am not a fan of short stories but I definitely make exemption regarding Mr. Patterson.

"Deadly Partnership", by Richard Gardner

Deadly Partnership: Murder, Blackmail and Voices from the Spirit World - Richard A. Gardner

Murder, Blackmail and Voices from the Spirit World

At first I was leery reading this book after all voices from the other world is not my kind of excitement and by far not my cup of tea. Was I ever wrong thinking this and so glad I said yes to Mr. Garner’s request to review his book. This was a very captivating read.

Right from the opening page I was hooked by this dark and clever storyline. The author feeds his story and builds suspense in calculating steps, drop by drop. It begins with an introduction to the main character with Paul Jenkins decisions to live with his sister Julie in their child-hood home after retirement….this may not have been a wise decision. Our first meeting with the spiritual world comes when Julie attends a séance. 

After moving in Paul’s idyllic life turns into turmoil when he comes face to face with a burglar, his reaction to this intrusion had tragic consequences. It is not the first time Paul has taken matters in his own hands and it seems that those who have disappeared in the past are not completely gone….from then on we have strange occurrences, medium visits and more murders.

I enjoyed this book. It has a cracking great story with characters easy to connect with. The story provides surprises after surprises and the medium aspects are at its bare minimum. What kept me glued was wondering the outcome, what will Paul do next, who will squeal on him, will he get caught, what about his son, his sister, old friends and the riffraff Paul associates himself with, what’s next…..This story is very well-written with enough suspense to have us flipping the page at a rapid rage…that good.

"Finding Grace:Captured by a Cult", by Warren Adler

Finding Grace: Captured by a Cult - Warren Adler

What would you do if your loveable child is in the clutches of a notorious cult? Would you question yourself: where did we go wrong, was our child unhappy, did our chattered life had a terrible effect on her…etc. a million questions and very few answers….The novel gets to the heart of brainwashing and its power to control. It also highlights how far parents will go to get their child back, even if that child is an adult.

Mr. Adler is a master in creating drama with visual scenes and building upon relationships. At first blush, the book seemed to be of Grace and the parental attempts to find her but it soon morphed into an overwhelming sexual obsession between two self-centered characters: Harry and Paulie, Grace divorced parents. The story jumps back and forth from the present and go back in time as the characters often reminisce about their life together. At one point, their romance is rekindled and this completely takes over the plot. These two characters did not fully won my heart… but their quest and the drastic measures taken to turn Grace around and bring her home is where this story excels in delivering its message.

This easy and fast read set some decades ago moderately dabbles into the cult mindset and their persuasion techniques. Although the premise is more about the efforts and courage needed to find and bring Grace back home we nevertheless have a look at this young woman who has been sucked into a cult and is now under their firm grasp. 

As with all of Mr. Adler’s work, the narration flows smoothly and his powerful prose leaves a whirlwind of emotions. After-all having your child under the spell of mind control who shuns your love can only be but devastating. 

An emotional read 

"Casino Havana", by Graham Tempest

Casino Havana: An Oliver Steele Thriller - Graham Tempest

Book # 5, an Oliver Steele Thriller

In this latest our intrepid forensic accountant is tasked with another mission this time to Cuba he goes to find a friend, who was kidnapped and put in prison. 

This is another suspenseful story in the Casino series hard to put down. Mr. Tempest creates interesting intrigues that pulls you in and manages to keep you captivated till his protagonist wraps up his mission. This one reads more like an espionage thriller than a mystery. The Castro era is winding down, Cuba is in a process of a big political change and officials are jockeying for position but some are very corrupted, Oliver must tread the line very carefully.

The story keeps a steady pace, is exciting and full of red herrings especially when Oliver mounts an attack on an island prison trying to reach his friend .Throughout this nail biting journey, one crisis after another happens to our loveable adventurer. Along the way we have details of old style Cuba, its 1920’s music and how things were then and how things are since the Castro era. Recurring characters from previous adventures are weaved in to show us that Oliver still has to deal with bribery and intimidation at every turn. No dull moment with Oliver. 

“Casino Havana”, has an interesting and well-written plot with good characterization and is an enjoyable entertainment from cover to cover.

"Gaslight", by Mark Dawson

Gaslight - Mark  Dawson

Book #0.5 in the Soho Noir series

A 65 pages novella, a prequel to the earlier published works “The Imposter and The Black Mile.

The story is moody and vivid but it is too short and too thin but the biggest disappointment is that it leaves you hanging and wanting more. Like most short stories “Gaslight” has its flaws but it is worth the time reading it.

What pushed me to download this book: simple I am a huge fan. Mr. Dawson usually writes exciting stories that lures you in and keeps you interested till you reach the end and why not at the time the book was offered free of charges.

Here he set the stage to post war London 1920, his main characters are two brothers, Harry and Frank Costello who burgle house to supplement their incomes. Mr. Dawson even in his short story never misses the mark in creating the right atmosphere. His vivid prose paints a picture of the seedier side of London’s life, its crime elements and the poorer quarters with ease. But it ends too abruptly for me. This story is more of a teaser…..

"The Westhampton Scare", by Gerald J. Kubicki and Kristopher Kubicki

The Westhampton Scare: Colton Banyon Mystery #28 - Kristopher Kubicki, Gerald J. Kubicki

Book#28, in the Colton Banyon Mystery

Although this may be the 28th book it is just the 2nd bringing us back in time when Colton was a young man. The year is 1968 and Colton just finished his sophomore year at college and was home for the summer working at a restaurant along with some of his friends.

Using the same pattern he always does, Mr. Kubicki starts with an interesting prologue and a bit of history then he swiftly moves to the core of his mystery. I really love this new approach, a good storyline that moves along a good pace with plenty of suspense. The book is fun to read and not taxing at all, we can easily read it in no time. Making Colt and his friend trespass on some secret government land where a nuclear missile went missing gives us just enough intrigue to keep turning the pages, to boot a Russian sleeper cell lurks around the corner….a recovery search spearheaded by a sexy Major is teasing our teens and the wild ride through Westhampton can only make “The Westhampton Scare” a very captivating read. 

After reading all but one book written by the Kubicki I noticed a great change in style that I appreciate: out with the ridiculous fantasies, out with the over-sexed dim-wits and more concentration on a solid and good storyline. Well-done.

"Crypt of Bones", by J.F. Penn

Crypt of Bone: An ARKANE Thriller Book 2J (Volume 2) - J.F. Penn

Also published under the title “Prophecy”

Book#2, in the Arkane series

In her books Miss Penn uses her vast knowledge in theology to create great stories with a healthy dose of action and intrigue. This second episode picks up sometime after the conclusion of “Stone of Fire” (Pentecost) with Dr. Morgan Sierra investigating supernatural phenomenon in a religious context. 

Where to begin when the rich narrative keeps you so stitched to the story you even forget where you are. Well I am guilty of doing this; I was so immersed in this intriguing subject that for moments I thought I was part of it. This is not a boring book, too much adrenaline flows while you heart pounds turning the pages.

The story in a blurb

“Dr. Morgan Sierra travels to Israel to investigate the deaths of victims of the Jerusalem Syndrome and becomes embroiled in an international conspiracy that will use cutting-edge technology to carry an ancient curse to mankind, and threaten those she loves. Morgan joins agent Jake Timber to investigate the supernatural”.

Each book has a different setting actually it is a kind of travelogue in exotic locations. As the action moves swiftly into a wonderful blend of the real world with one of fiction we follow the protagonists to Israel, France, Italy and the Czech Republic .There are no dull moments in this race against a shadowy organization. At time I wondered if Morgan will survive or come out in one piece but again she is the main character and after all needed in subsequent novels. Evil characters Ms. Penn excel in developing them, not mentioning that her main players are memorable and brilliantly conceived. 

This is not my first experience reading this author and her style has grown on me through the times. Although I haven’t read the book in sequence I did read a few already and each have stood well on their own. I must catch up and fill the void….you always learn something reading Ms. Penn’s books.

This is a tantalizing thriller that will pull you in right from the start.