Rats in a Maze by Peter Bailey is a wildly thrilling novel that is sure to keep you turning the pages long after midnight. The book follows the stories of Detectives Ray Fisher, Brad Lahoti, and the mysterious and alluring Jessica Sorenson. A puzzling case has the New York Police Department hard at work: two convicts end up drowned in a car, with explosives, but suicide is ruled out. So who is responsible and why are there so many loose ends? Surely their murderer hidden in the shadows must be dangerous or powerful to have avoided catching the attention of the higher-ups? Detectives Ray and Brad must team up to investigate this odd case outside of the traditional methods and procedures used by the NYPD.
Peter Bailey has written a novel with equal parts mystery and suspense. The plot is action-packed and the author does not neglect his character developments. The audience really gets to see who the characters are and ride along this roller-coaster of a book with them. Bailey does an excellent job of portraying his characters so realistically that they feel like real people. Each has their own personal troubles and strengths that lend them to becoming truly three-dimensional. Additionally, Bailey should be commended for his portrayal of a unique LGBTQIA+ character in a way that is non-stereotypical and welcomed by the others; it was a refreshing aspect of the novel. Even the villains of the story are well-thought-out and intriguing.
The only flaw in the book is the occasionally confusing passages that may leave out a detail here or there. Some of the nonimportant scenes in the book occur very quickly and almost too concisely to be followed completely. The first example of this is when a forensic examiner makes fun of Detective Lahoti for his sexuality. The jab was almost missed by me so its impact was lessened. But the confusing passages are few and far between and do not detract from the story as whole. Rats in the Maze is an electrifying read that is well-suited to being devoured in one sitting on a rainy day. It is incredibly fast-paced and will leave you desperate for more. I highly recommend this fascinating mystery adventure.
Pages: 199 | ASIN: B08JMC8VHJ
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Chicago criminal attorney Michael Prescott is in Rome, visiting his best friend, Monsignor Robert Cavalieri, a Special Diplomat to the Vatican. He is informed that Giovanni Cardinal Masellis, the “Mafia Cardinal”, who was once the most evil cardinal in his day, has made a deathbed confession regarding the details of the poisoning murder of Pope John Paul I. His confession is secretly recorded by the Italian newspaper “La Repubblica” and their ambitious editor, Max Gianforte, who is desperately trying to confirm the Cardinal’s deathbed revelations. The dying Cardinal also reveals specific details regarding the circumstances of the Pope’s death, and the missing “Coins of Gregorio” which was a priceless gift donated by the influential Italian mobster, Don Giancarlo Cesario on the night before his murder. This gift was an attempt to bribe and influence His Holiness in the Vatican investigation of the Banco Ambrosiano scandal, his family was involved. Meanwhile, wine master Marco DiVito, the former Vatican Head of Security in 1978, now oversees his vineyard near the foothills of Rome. He meets his long lost daughter, Sienna, an investigative journalist with the Washington Post, whom he abandoned as a little girl in Boston. The Post has asked her to investigate “one of the biggest stories to come out of the Vatican in decades.” Michael Prescott meets Sienna at a local café, and originally tries to temper her investigative efforts before falling in love. As rumors swirl around Rome after the death of Cardinal Masellis, Italian crime boss Calogero “Don Charlie” Cesario believes that DiVito, who may be the actual murderer, also possesses these missing, priceless coins. He is unhappy with the implication of his family in this Vatican Confession Scandal, revealing total corruption and instability of the Vatican Church. His search will only end with the return of these rare coins or DiVito’s slow, painful death.
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A Gentleman Killer’s Society is an intriguing book that will have a chill running down your spine. The story follows James, a young boy whose loner lifestyle lands him in an eccentric and deadly group. James gets to be part of a serial killer book club, a group which despite making him feel like he belongs, gets him to engage in dangerous activities. The innocent James, who the reader gets to understand slowly, morphs into a character with a killer mind. Taking the life of another human being is no easy task as James comes to learn. James has no guts to kill yet all eyes are on him. The character also gets into a dilemma as, despite not wanting to kill, James does not want to leave the group as he feels the members are now in his close circle.
Noah John is raw with his words, brutal with the character formation, unforgiving when it comes to scenes, and very creative. The main story is like no other. As a reader, you are constantly surprised by the turn of events as Noah John adds various exciting elements in his narration. Nothing prepares you for the gory scenes and the unmerciful nature of the main characters. Reading A Gentlemen Killers’ Society gives one the impression of being an extra character in a horror film.
I loved the paradox that was James, his conflicting self made him an unusual character that I enjoyed following. The author’s characters are odd, uncanny, solid, and expressive. The development of the plot, growth of characters, and mystery surrounding some of the characters made the book a consistently compelling read. I enjoyed the satire in the book. There are some parts of the story that are hilarious, leaving the reader in stitches. One of my favorite things about Noah’s writing is how he introduces characters. The way each character is described gives you an understanding of the characters’ physique and their mental state, which is needed in such a riveting psychological thriller. A Gentlemen Killers’ Society is an engrossing crime thriller that expertly uses satire to deliver some thought provoking commentary on society.
Pages: 316 | ASIN: B07W462R4C
Tags: A Gentlemen Killers' Society, action, author, book, book review, bookblogger, crime fantasy, crime fiction, ebook, fantasy, ficiton, goodreads, horror, kindle, kobo, literature, Noah John, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
Blown Away (The Crimes of Passion Series Book 2) by Charlene Johnson is a romantic suspense thriller about Zackary Daniels, a homicide detective in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police who also works as a security consultant at a hotel owned by his friend, where his past suddenly collides with his present. When a murder occurs at the Majestic Peacock Hotel and Casino, Zack must set aside his personal search for revenge in order to focus on his current case–discovering the identity of the killer and protecting the beautiful witness, Sonnet Banks. But Sonnet is not what she appears, and she’s not ready to reveal the secrets from her past. Can Zack gain her trust and stop the hit-man before he kills again?
I enjoyed thoroughly reading this book, but I had trouble getting into the story at the beginning. I felt that there were too many characters introduced in the first few pages (almost a dozen names were mentioned), and I struggled to keep them all straight. There were times when I had to go back and check who someone was when they were mentioned again because I couldn’t remember the details of that particular character. Part of the issue might have been that there was a lot of backstory explained all at once. I appreciated the detailed narrative of past events as it created an intricate and well throughout world, but it slowed the pace of the story prior to Sonnet witnessing the murder.
After this point the story accelerates with a consistently fast pace, engaging characters, and a gripping plot. I liked the surprises that were revealed about Sonnet’s character, which weren’t what I had been expecting and added much welcomed dimension to an already stand out character. There were several other unexpected twists in the story which kept things interesting and far from being your standard crime thriller. Charlene Johnson was able to make me care about Sasha Petrov, who seemed completely beyond redemption when we’re first introduced to him at the beginning of the story. But by the end of the book, when the truth about what really happened to Zack’s sister had finally been revealed, I wanted to read more about Sasha, and I was even hoping that there will be another story with him as the hero.
With well defined characters thrown into the middle of a perilous situation things naturally take off and go in unexpected directions. Anyone who enjoys a good crime thriller will find plenty to like.
Pages: 224 | ASIN: B087NSZJRG
Tags: author, Blown Away, book, book review, bookblogger, Charlene Johnson, crime, crime fantasy, crime ficiton, crime fiction, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, mob, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
Highwayman follows a highly intelligent serial killer with plans to take his rampage to the next level. What were some influences you felt guided your story?
I did an abundant amount of research on subjects with similar traits to the character I wanted to write. When I began developing the Highwayman character, I was constantly reminded of the myriad real-life criminals that inspired him. Serial murderers like Ted Bundy, Luka Magnotta, the Toolbox Killers, Roy Norris and Lawrence Bittaker, all influenced the creation of Highwayman’s character. So, when you ask, “what influences?” they weren’t the traditional works of authors I generally read. Much of my influences were police reports, documentaries, true crime literature, and that kept me grounded. Writing a story about a highly intelligent serial killer that even if they are smart, even if they have the advantage, at their core, there is still something wrong with them. Normal people don’t hunt other humans. That personality defect alone separates them from society and removes the illusion that they are somehow superhuman or impervious to mistakes.
Lance is a villain that I loved to hate. What were some ideals that guided his character development?
The preamble to your question pretty much nails the fundamental mission I had when I created Lance. I didn’t want readers to like him. I wanted them to be horrified by his lack of empathy, narcissism, and psychopathy. In other words, I wanted him to be as realistic to fiction readers as real-life serial killers are to those that read true crime.
The criminal process, as well as the details on FBI procedures, were all fascinating. What kind of research did you undertake to ensure things were accurate?
I did a lot of reading, including interviews with serial killers conducted by law enforcement, and watched 100’s of hours of documentaries on the subject and subjects. I also consulted with true crime writers about the characters they had studied like Ted Bundy. I contacted police agencies, asking questions that raised eyebrows. Nothing beats calling the police and asking strange questions. Examples: “What would happen if I found a body here?” or “Does a vehicle submerged in water still yield fingerprints?” I overdosed on research, but I don’t proclaim myself any type of an expert as I’m sure I can be taken to task on some issues.
This is book one in the Highwayman series. What can readers expect in book two?
Highwayman was a slow-burn, introducing us to Lance and his ambitions over roughly eight years. The follow-up book, FOUR, which is now available, focuses on Lance’s big project of mass murder realized. There’s a lot more action, and it moves faster because the timeline of the story is a much shorter eight weeks. Lance has elevated his status to number one on the FBI’s Most-Wanted list, but there is no more mystery. Law enforcement knows who the Highwayman is and they’re coming. Maxwell is moving with a posse of investigators to stop the Highwayman for good, and now it’s personal. Lance has left Maxwell an arrogant parting shot at one of the crime scenes. AGENT MAXWELL: COME AND FIND ME. Signed: HIGHWAYMAN.
The condescension of a fugitive, yes, but Lance is about to see his plans altered as he tries to escape a relentless force of law enforcement.
Readers can also expect visitations from characters from the first book, like Cole Abraham, Lonnie Perkins, and many others. While this book will conclude the Highwayman story, it is not the end of the series. In future books, there will be more tales of murder and mystery about the monsters who walk among us every day.
Mismatched amateur detectives Casey Alton and (former biker gang leader) Smitty have solved some tough mysteries before. But this one may push them to do some truly creative actions on the edge of what’s legal. Casey & Smitty have a dilemma they have to solve… A longtime good friend of Smitty’s has been conned out of $2,000,000 dollars. The perpetrator’s a known ruthless and murderous crook. The friend has been beaten within an inch of his life to keep him quiet.How can they get the friend’s money back without being killed or worse? Run a racket on a racketeer? Run a hustle on a hustler? Out con a con artist? How do the movies fit into their plan? For the answers to these questions and more, read STAGED!
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The Obsession is a thrilling crime novel that follows Jackie as she finds that she’s being stalked by a serial killer. What were some ideas that drove the development of this story?
Many of the stalker scenes really happened to me. It seems surreal at this point in my life, but it was terrifying and frustrating at the time. Thankfully, the murders were not true.
Jackie is a missilier in the Air Force. Why did you choose this profession as Jackie’s career?
I was one of the first female missiliers. At the time, it was the only combat role a woman could hold. The Air Force has come a long way since then. Many writers start by writing what they know. This experience was very close to home.
There is a lot of good red herrings in the book and it makes you see everyone as a suspect. Was this planned or did this happen organically while writing?
A little of both. In real life, figuring out the stalker did take a while. There were many options, and technology simply wasn’t as it is today. A phone trace was extremely complicated. There was no caller id. Some of the red herrings were added in after I got the initial draft on paper.
This is book one in the Jackie Austin Mysteries series. Where will book two find Jackie and when will it be available?
Wind the Clock is out now. In it, Jackie goes to Germany where she is working for the inspector general’s office. There is a plane crash, and the situation looks very similar to a scenario she wrote for an exercise so she gets blamed for it. She has to figure out the real culprit to get OSI off her back. (The books do not have to be read in order.)
At first, Jackie Austin tried ignoring the phone calls in the dead of the night. Fresh out of Air Force missile training and no stranger to harassment, she shrugged them off as a prank. But when the calls didn’t stop, unsigned love letters started arriving, and things in her house seemed out of place, Jackie started to worry. Were the men on base playing a trick on her or did they not realize that she wasn’t interested? And just how far would this harasser go?
In the neighboring town of Sedalia, a more ominous situation was brewing. Yet another young, single woman had been mysteriously killed in an ongoing series of grim murders. With the police on alert but without any leads, it was only a matter of time before the killer found his next victim.
Could Jackie be his next target?
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Layers of Deception is a thrilling crime novel that delves into cyber-security, the dark web and criminal gangs in the Far East. What served as your inspiration while writing this novel?
Basically I wanted to write the type of book (and movie) that I enjoy myself. As for where the actual story came from, I started writing about situations I experienced over the years and the plot emerged as I built it out. I found that when I’m in the zone and typing away the story just unfolded quite naturally.
I wanted a main character that readers would really empathise with, so while he’s a very successful businessman on one level, I think there’s also a real vulnerability to him, mentally at least. I think it’s this side of him that makes him stand out and draws the reader into his life and problems.
I began writing during my recovery from a serious fall into a storm drain whilst on business in Singapore. Stuck in hospital I found it cathartic to write. It helped with my recovery, both mentally and physically. That was the start. Once back to work, and traveling internationally, I would write everywhere: on planes, trains, staying at hotels, at any given opportunity.
What is your professional experience and how has that helped you write this novel?
I worked for over 25 years in the technology sector – mainly internet security and international fraud detection. I wanted to bring my experiences of business deals and Internet security in the heart of banking systems, where you’d never expect everything to go very wrong very quickly, combining this as a thriller where modern-day mafia and the dark net combine to corrupt the heart of the international banking system.
I think it would really appeal to people who understand the techie stuff, but my aim was to make it perfectly accessible for non technical people too.
Whilst my time in the IT industry, international travel and experiences, equipped me with many stories over the years, my subsequent work as a therapist has enabled me to study all aspects of human behavior. I specialize in treating people with issues around anxiety, phobias and trauma. We are all fallible human beings. One of the main things that therapy gives me is empathy – helping me to understand and get into the mind of the characters in my writing
Kuala Lumpur is a detailed and fascinating backdrop to your story. Why did you choose this location for the setting to you novel?
The thriller draws on my many years experience of doing business in Kuala Lumpur as an IT business entrepreneur in the computer security sector trying to land contracts in Kuala Lumpur.
Despite its challenges, Kuala Lumpur is easily my favorite city in Asia. The city is always on the move, spurred by high technology, a strong knowledge-base and capital-intensive industries. The difference between rich and poor is very stark and there are issues with crime. Traffic is a nightmare as well. All of that aside, the food is fantastic and there are very few cities that are so inherently culturally diverse.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I’m working on my second novel, a thriller set in Kuala Lumpur. It’s about a Malaysian family who illegally buy a Vietnamese child – a boy – the result of a turbulent relationship between a UK businessman and a Vietnamese woman living in Kuala Lumpur. The boy thrived in his new loving family unit, but his life and all those around him were about to be devastated when his real mother, who had since married a rich American businessman – wants him back.
In addition I have completed two more plots. A sequel to Layers of Deception where a child is kidnapped by Malaysian triads as a means to extort funds from a UK business based in Kuala Lumpur. The other novel is a thriller based on my fall in Singapore.
With international backers, big business deals and Internet security in the heart of banking systems, you’d never expect everything to go very wrong very quickly. And when things go wrong, they go very wrong! Layers of Deception is an international crime thriller where modern-day mafia and dark net combine to corrupt the heart of the international banking system.
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