The Emerald Cave by James B. McPike is a fast novel. It’s not fast in the sense that it’s a short read. Rather, The Emerald Cave works by having prose and plotting that takes readers for a whirlwind of a story that involves action, firefights, terrorists, heists, and a dozen other elements that contribute to an engaging and incredibly engrossing novel. Being the third in its series, The Emerald Cave follows the story of Vince Ramsey, an Israeli detective searching for an arms dealer whose whereabouts are murky at best. He enlists the help of April Fulton, an expert on historical artifacts, and the two set off on an epic investigative chase that brings them from one part of the world to the another, with obstacles and betrayal meeting them each step of the way. The book is fast, and it starts off with a tense standoff initiated by terrorists of the Hezbollah organization. From there, the plot takes no chances, pushing onward with a feverish speed that helps heighten the book’s sense of urgency and impact. This is juxtaposed by appropriately placed moments of quiet that allows both the characters and the readers to ponder on events as they unfurl.
Beyond these points, The Emerald Cave shines in its effective usage of characterization. The relationship between April Fulton and Vince Ramsey highlight a realistic dynamic that allows the two to play off one another. Sequences in which the two work together in solving a puzzle or identifying various clues reveal key differences in the characters’ logical approaches and methodologies that help make each character feel individual. In certain moments, I found myself working out these puzzles with April and Vince, identifying my own thought processes and “aha!” moments in conjunction with their own. At the same time, there is a clear sense of growth these two protagonists go through as the novel moves forward and while some trends are easy to note, this sense of maturity one finds is rare in many stories today. This characterization is aided by James B. McPike’s effective prose. Sentences are generally terse and filled with the details necessary for the story. Long, drawn-out sections are rare to find and each word McPike utilizes is one that is necessary for the story being conveyed. This helps create a tense atmosphere that works incredibly well with the fast plotting designed by McPike.
As a whole, The Emerald Cave by James B. McPike is an incredible story that doesn’t let up. Events fly at neck-breaking speeds while readers becoming connected with the protagonists as everyone tries to uncover the mysteries and secrets the story presents. While the story could have used some additional quiet moments in order to allow the reader to collect themselves before continuing onward, The Emerald Cove remains an engrossing piece. The stories narrative design and effective characterization makes this story an incredible journey and an enjoyable ride.
Pages: 215 | ASIN: B07DSRKWR1
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When Sam Blades starts work at Shimmering Dreams, he hopes to climb the promotional ladder and bring security for himself and his girlfriend. Hailed as the greatest invention of its age, he would be working on new technology that downloads your dreams to your phone.
But, unbeknown to him, somebody behind the scenes is pulling the strings.
What lengths will someone go to when they are forced to repay a debt? Is Sam being set up as the fall guy to take the blame for dreams being used for nefarious activities? Who ends up taking matters into their own hands with drastic consequences?
Follow Sam’s tongue-in-cheek journey through a world of industrial espionage where he blindly battles against an alcohol-fuelled boss, a corrupt copper, a revenge-seeking hitman and a tone-deaf busker.
Posted in book trailer
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Dave Droge introduces us to a character who, despite having all the money in the world, wants to destroy himself. Eccentric, since one would think that having that much money would have made him happy. Narrated in the first person, I could already tell that this book would not only be thrilling to read, but also pleasant.
The narrator’s words were intriguing and I could feel the suspense hovering in the first few pages. This was exciting as I naturally got the urge to read more. I kept reading on and I got to understand why the narrator abhorred life and everything around. Waldemar had lost his family in an accident. His daughter Claire, and wife Antoinette had died from the accident. Reading this, I couldn’t help but think of how people mourn their loved ones. The author introduces the theme of grief early in the book, and that disintegrated my heart as all I could empathize with the narrator.
One gets the sense that the Waldemar suffers from mild self-loathing, as all he does is despise life; his career, his personality, and his whole self. When talking about his wife, the narrator described her as nearly perfect. While talking about self though, the Waldemar talked as if he was a failure. His troubles had started during his time as a researcher; he received a letter of termination just after his last publication. Of course, this broke him, what had become of him? His family passed on days later, leaving him completely broken.
Miriam was among my favorite characters in the book. I loved how knowledgeable she was, and how she knew how to initiate a conversation. The suicide discussion between her and Waldemar was one of the conversations I enjoyed in the book. Miriam was concerned, and though her way of showing concern was not typical, Waldemar understood her and actually listened to what she had to say.
At times I felt like Waldemar was personally speaking to me, and I needed to listen to him pour his heart out. His life may have not been a bed of roses, but Waldemar is one character I really loved. I enjoyed every piece of his narration and wanted him to keep talking.
The story easily flows and the reader gets engrossed in the life of the characters. Inevitable Dreaming story, from the beginning, is so absorbing that I couldn’t stop once I started. The characters are creative and the story is spellbinding.
Pages: 140 | ASIN: B07HLKHXYB
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The Moving Blade follows detective Hiroshi as he navigates street level politics to solve the murder of an American diplomat. What was the direction that you wanted to take book two in the series that was different from book one?
The direction I wanted to take it is not the direction it ended up going. So, I headed more into the characters, who became more and more interesting. I focused on the roiling tumble of conflicts inside them, and what that might reflect of social, political and historical conflicts outside. I think that’s similar to book one, but because the characters are embedded into a larger framework of political pressures and international relations, their actions resonate differently. The canvas is broader in this second book, and I go deeper into Tokyo, to see the background of the characters and their choices, good and bad.
I enjoyed the mix of interesting characters throughout the novel. Who was your favorite character to write for?
I like all of them. Well, I don’t like the bad guys, but I like hating them. My favorites were maybe the bookstore owner twins and the radical leftist. They were fun to write and to put in scenes together, the twins steady and demure and the leftist stridently angry. Sakaguchi, the ex-sumo wrestler, is always fun to write for. He has this core set of values that is rock solid Japanese. When he explodes, he really explodes. And of course, Hiroshi developed and grew as a person and as a detective, in perhaps meandering ways, but human ways. The women characters are great to write for, too, as they pull the story in their direction.
It quickly unfolds that the missing manuscript was the driving factor behind the diplomat’s death. How do you balance storytelling with mystery and action to ensure readers are engaged to the very last page?
Among all the different types of mysteries, whodunnits, whydunnits, I-dunnits, I didn’t-do-its, I tend towards the why. Maybe because I was a philosophy major? Not-knowing who creates a different kind of curiosity than not-knowing why. Withholding certain pieces of information is essential. As Alfred Hitchcock pointed out, if you know there’s a bomb under the table, but the characters don’t…well, that’s suspense. And if you don’t know why the bomb is under the table in the first place, it’s really intriguing. As jazz musicians often say, and I think Mozart said it originally, the music is not in the notes, but in the silence between. I think writing should be aware of what’s not spoken, what’s not known. The unknowns make you lean in and pay attention.
Where will book three in the Detective Hiroshi series take readers?
Book three is called Tokyo Traffic. The story revolves around a young Thai girl who gets lost in Tokyo, after running away from some horrible people. She is rescued by a young Japanese woman who lives in an internet café and plays in a rock band. Most of the story takes place in the nighttime youth hangouts in Shibuya and Shimokitazawa, another side of Tokyo. The detectives are the same, though Hiroshi has moved in with his college girlfriend and Takamatsu is off suspension. It goes deeper into the characters and deeper into Tokyo.
When the top American diplomat in Tokyo, Bernard Mattson, is killed, he leaves more than a lifetime of successful Japan-American negotiations. He leaves a missing manuscript, boxes of research, a lost keynote speech and a tangled web of relations.
When his alluring daughter, Jamie, returns from America wanting answers, finding only threats, Detective Hiroshi Shimizu is dragged from the safe confines of his office into the street-level realities of Pacific Rim politics.
With help from ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi, Hiroshi searches for the killer from back alley bars to government offices, through anti-nuke protests to military conspiracies. When two more bodies turn up, Hiroshi must choose between desire and duty, violence or procedure, before the killer silences his next victim.
THE MOVING BLADE is the second in the Tokyo-based Detective Hiroshi series by award-winning author Michael Pronko.
Posted in Interviews
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“Powderfinger” is a present-day scary horror story set mainly on the decrepit, abandoned but soon to be redeveloped, bank of an old canal between two towns. It centres on an old tar works known as Raven’s Gate. Nick Swann is a world weary mid-forties widower and Assistant Probation Warden at St Joseph’s Hostel for young male criminals, situated overlooking the canal and Raven’s Gate. A woman is brutally killed on the bank opposite the Hostel on a night when Nick is on duty. Nick believes his lads had nothing to do with it, though consequently Nick is suspended for issuing too many late passes at once. Then another woman is killed and Nick becomes drawn into discovering the culprit. He works with DCI Findlay and DS Deacon as the murder toll rises. Together with help from his old friends Alan and Hugo, Nick’s research uncovers a long series of similar murders in the same area, stretching back through the centuries. “Powderfinger” as the killer is dubbed, appears to be some kind of ancient mellifluous, malevolent, murderous being that attacks anyone it considers to be disturbing its peace and quiet. Eventually, as the story climaxes, Findlay, Deacon, Nick and Alan set a trap to lure “Powderfinger” to his doom and rid the area of this beast once and for all. Yet, traps can swing both ways.
Posted in book trailer
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DR: How did you come up with Gina S. Miyoko?
MKB: I honestly don’t remember except that she arose from a dream I had, the plot of which (yes, my dreams often have plots) I don’t remember. I knew I wanted to write her as the protagonist of a mystery novel, and I knew I wanted her to be different from the female P.I.s I’d read. I love mystery and crime fiction but I noticed that all the female protagonists were alienated and broken and party to dysfunctional relationships. I wanted Gina to be flawed and have enough pain in her life to be relatable, but I also wanted her to be part of a very functional, if quirky family and support network. Among the Japanese names I was considering, Gina Suzu Miyoko meant ”Silver Bell Temple”; Tinkerbell became an inevitable nickname. And her personality just grew out of that.
DR: And Russian Orthodox witches?
MKB: Around the time I was developing Gina and the characters that would surround her, I was reading a book entitled THE BATHHOUSE AT MIDNIGHT: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia (WF Ryan). I was reading it because the novel I was working on at the time (MAGIC TIME: ANGELFIRE, from Harper-Voyager) had a Russian ex-pat as one of the central characters. Okay, and also I’m Russian-Polish on my father’s side and have been fascinated with the folklore and history of slavic culture since I was a child. Probably more so because my grandmother was so adamant that I not be taught anything about the Old Country but be brought up thoroughly American. In any event, the book sparked the idea that I wanted Gina’s mother to be Russian and fascinated by arcana. She was originally going to be a psychologist, but by the time I started writing the book that became THE ANTIQUITIES HUNTER, she had morphed into a cultural anthropologist and folklorist.
As tends to happen with these things, as I began to write the characters, they essentially told me who they were. I’m sure you know the feeling—as if the character is inside your head whispering sweet somethings to your Muse.
DR: Can you talk about Tinkerbell on Walkabout—the novelette that describes how Gina became a detective?
MKB: I wanted to document Gina’s genesis as a PI, but the plot actually came about as a weird synthesis of several real-life moments. I lived in Grass Valley for about 35 years and set it there in part because of an experience I had being a founding member of Nevada County Citizens for Racial Unity, a group that formed after a black man who’d just moved to the area was beaten up by a bunch of white teenagers in a local park. That caused us to consult with the California Highway Patrol about the forces of racism in the area. What our CHP liaison told us about gangs from Colusa and Yuba counties trying to gain a foothold in Nevada County gave me most of the plot elements I wanted for the story. A visit to Charlotte, North Carolina one Christmas occasioned me seeing the mostly scrupulously tidy wrecking yard I have ever laid eyes on and that gave me a key element in Gina solving the crime that lies at the heart of the story.
DR: Did you research PI procedures like the post-it notes and Who/What/When etc?
MKB: I have to laugh. The post-it note method is something I’ve used to plot novels for years. It seemed to me that my post-it process would be as ideal for working out the nuances of a real world mystery as it is for plotting a novel. My editor suggested editing the scene in which you first see Gina use the post-its so that she just wrote on the white board. I declined and explained the beauty of post-its to her by having Gina demonstrate it for the reader.
DR: How did you become interested in the problem of looting of antiquities? Why the Southwest?
MKB: I have loved archaeology for as long as I can remember. I subscribed for years to Archeology magazine, and KMT (Kemet – which is the old Egyptian name for Egypt). I happened to read an article about a female undercover agent for the National Park Service and the sort of work she and her teammates did, chiefly in the Southwest where there are a lot of vulnerable caches of artifacts, mostly on First Nations land. But I’d also been following several international cases at the time—the Elgin Marbles that the British Museum had to return to Greece and the blackmarket cases that big US auction houses and museums alike had been implicated in. I was also following the rediscovery of the Rosalila (an utterly fantastic nested temple at Copán in the Honduras) and some amazing finds at Bonampak, which is in Chiapas, Mexico.
It was that last item that gave me the location for some of the action in the book. I sort of let all of that percolate and it seemed natural to have my protagonist have the experience I’d dreamed of having—seeing those antiquities first hand. More than that, I wanted her to have a hand in saving some of them. The lack of funding for preserving these sites is a real and persistent problem in the world of archaeology.
DR: These days cultural appropriation is a sensitive topic. How did you go about portraying Hispanic, Asian, and Native characters in a respectful manner?
MKB: I suppose every writer has their own approach; mine is to love the people I write about and to recognize that they’re people first, not representatives or symbols or archetypes of a particular culture. But, in writing them, I have to recognize that their cultural framework will condition their responses to things. So, to Rose Delgado, though she’s married to a non-Hopi, living in Sausalito and working all over the country, she’s still Hopi. That means that Hopi lands are still sacred to her and that she takes the theft of native artifacts personally. Her job is more than just a job because of her cultural background and her investment in it is different than the other members of her team.
To me, Gina’s tattoo is exemplary of the cultural intersectionality I’m portraying. It’s a Russian Orthodox True Believer cross with a Buddha seated at the nexus in a lotus blossom. The cross is for her mom, the Buddha for her dad. Gina calls herself a Russian Orthodox Buddhist, which is an echo of what I told people who asked about my religion before I became a Baha’i. I’d say I was a Hindu-Buddhist-Christian. So, what I was trying to capture in Gina was a character who was an intersection of three cultures—Japanese, Russian and American.
I’ve been privileged to have been surrounded by people from diverse cultures all my life and I think that if you approach characters of any culture with curiosity, love and an attitude of learning, you’ll strive to portray them as complete, three-dimensional human beings.
DR: Is there such a thing as SASH (Society for the Appreciation of Sherlock Holmes), and would you join?
MKB: There’s a Sherlock Holmes Society of London, but as far as I know, there’s none in the Bay Area—at least not like the one Gina’s dad, Edmund, is part of. I made it up. Or maybe Edmund did. I would totally join SASH if there was one around. I love Sherlock Holmes—in fact, I have a Sherlock Holmes pastiche idea I’d love to write.
DR: What have you written recently?
MKB: I’ve been doing a lot ghostwrites lately. And they have been diverse and interesting. I just finished up a YA set in Seattle, and am still working on one that also makes use of my deep love of archaeology. Beyond that, my dear agent is shopping a crazy range of novels I tossed at him, including an SF novel with a peculiar genesis that I’d love to see be the first of a trilogy, a YA paranormal/contemporary fantasy featuring a 14 year-old-protagonist who discovers she’s a witch from a long line of witches, a magical realism yarn that is my take on the old Russian fairytale, Frog Princess, and a paranormal romance that I collaborated on with a couple of show runners from LA.
DR: What lies ahead? What lies ahead for Gina Miyoko – are new novels in the works?
MKB: I’ve been working on what I hope will be the next book in the Gina Miyoko series—working title, THE FORGETFUL FOLKLORIST. I’ve got about eight or nine novels sketched out and more ideas popping into my head all the time. I’ve also been outlining a steampunk novel I’d like to write, involving yet more artifacts. (I got the idea from a book cover someone asked me to design, then didn’t want.)
DR: How does The Antiquities Hunter fit into your repertoire of published works?
MKB: It’s a real outlier among outliers. I started out writing science fiction. In fact, I’d published a bunch of stories in Analog before I shifted gears and wrote four epic fantasy novels all based on dreams. Then I discovered magical realism and fell madly in love with it. That caused my writing to take a weird turn that peaked with ”The White Dog” (Interzone). In moving over to crime fiction, I’m really pursuing something that’s fascinated me as a reader for years. I’ve been in love with mysteries and detective fiction forever. So, even though THE ANTIQUITIES HUNTER looks like a departure from the outside, from where I sit, I’m just writing what I’ve always read. I also realized, when I looked at the fiction I’ve written, that most of my stories have a mystery embedded at the core—sometimes blatantly, as in ”The Secret Life of Gods” and ”Distance” (Analog), or in a veiled way as in my novels THE SPIRIT GATE (originally from Baen, in reprint from Book View Cafe) and STAR WARS LEGENDS: SHADOW GAMES (Del Rey/Lucas Books).
DR: What authors have most influenced your writing? What about them do you find inspiring?
MKB: My greatest prose heroes are Ray Bradbury, W.P. Kinsella (whom I cast in DISTANCE with his permission), and Tim Powers. These are the writers whose use of language, storytelling chops, and sheer imagination made me hungry to write. Bradbury and Kinsella have written some of the most beautiful and evocative prose in the English language and Powers has given me epiphanies about the many ways reality can collide with the fantastic.
I admire Dean Koontz, JK Rowling and Sue Grafton as well, especially for their character development chops and the uncanny way they connect the reader to their characters from page one. I also have to credit Harry Turtledove (who’s written some of my favorite Analog stories) with making me stray into alternate history, with my novelette ”O, Pioneer” (Paradox) which takes an upside down and backwards look at Christopher Columbus’ ”discovery” of the Americas.
DR: Why do you write what you do, and how does your work differ from others in your genre?
MKB: I write what I do because either a character demands to be written about (Gina Miyoko being a case in point) or an idea demands to be explored. I thrive on exploration. It’s why I love road trips (What’s around that next curve?), research, archaeology (What is that thing I just dug up?), first contact stories, and mysteries of every kind. Writing is exploration I undertake to satisfy my insatiable curiosity about what if.
I’ve been told that I write fantasy with rivets, meaning that my fantasy work tends to take a very pragmatic approach to the fantastic. It works the other way, as well. My Gina Miyoko stories have an undercurrent of the supernatural to them if the reader chooses to read the pragmatic references to obereg (the good luck charms her mom is forever sneaking into her pockets), Holy Water, and spells as being more than just a concession to Nadia Miyoko’s avocation. This means that my fiction often falls through the cracks. When I sent ”The White Dog” to Interzone, the editor wrote back and said essentially, ”I loved it, but where’s the fantasy element?” I responded, ”In the eye of the reader.” He bought the story and it was a finalist for the British Science Fiction Award.
DR: How does your writing process work?
MKB: Mileage varies … a lot. With short fiction, I’ll sometimes scribble a handful of questions that become notes and when I see a beginning and end, I start writing. With novels, I sometimes get out the sticky notes. I had a great little flow chart app I used for a while, but they stopped making it. I use Evernote to toss bits and pieces into, as well. The sticky note brainstorming is still the best method I’ve found of plotting a novel because it allows me to visualize relationships between characters, their motivations and other plot elements.
Once I’ve charted something that way, I write a synopsis that becomes a living document that I can add to as I work. At some point the characters start yakking and doing things and I have to start writing. I used to have to write everything in #2 pencil on lined paper first, then edit as I committed it to the computer. Then I’d do that until roughly the last third of the book when the boulder started rolling downhill. But for some time now, while I still love writing notes long hand, I do all my writing at the keyboard. I’ve only ever had a laptop, because I feel the need to be portable. Sometimes a silent house is the best place to write, and sometimes a noisy coffee shop is best. I’ve also learned to give myself permission to do what I heard one writer refer to as ”moodling”. It looks (and feels) like I’m not doing anything, but my mind is hard at work looking for connections. And when enough connections are made between elements and characters, the writing happens.
Whenever I sit down to write, I always read back what I did previously. I tried Hemingway’s stopping in mid sentence and it only led to frustration.
DR: What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
MKB: First, write without editing. Ray Bradbury famously said of writing, ”Don’t think.” He advised hiding your editor hat and just getting the bones of a story or a scene down without worrying about whether you found the right word. THEN, put on your editor hat and edit. This can make the difference between a story ending up attached to an email on its way to an editor’s inbox or ending up in an obscure file folder.
Second, learn your tools—words. Know what they mean, what they imply, how they taste, how they sound. Read your prose out loud before you submit it. Here, I find Mark Twain’s advice sage: ”Use the right word, not its second cousin.”
Third, be flexible. The method you used to write one story may not work for the next one. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re broken or that your process is broken. It just means it’s different this time. This was a hard-learned lesson for me. It took reading Lawrence Block’s learning experience with regard to flexibility (in one of this Writer’s Digest columns), to understand that I wasn’t losing ”it”; ”it” had just morphed a bit.
I’ve learned a lot from the experiences of other writers and from their prose. One of the most valuable learning experiences for me is to read other writers’ prose with an awareness of my own responses to it and analyze why it makes me feel how I feel. Then I try to apply that in my own work.
Oh, and when you’ve written that story and read it out loud, making sure that (as Twain said) you’ve used the right word, not its second cousin, send it to the magazine or agent or publisher you really want to see it with, not something less. When I sent my first story to Stan Schmidt at Analog, the wisdom in all the writing magazines I’d read was that I should send it to a small non-pro market first and work my way up. And I should send something short that stood a better chance of being accepted. I went against that advice and sent a 19,500 word novella to my favorite magazine and got accepted.
Short form: Always shoot for the moon.
This interview was provided by PrentisLiterary.com.
Gina “Tinkerbell” Miyoko is not your typical private eye. Armed with a baby blue Magnum, a Harley blessed with Holy Water by her dramatically disposed mother, and a Japanese mingei tucked in her pocket (a good luck charm from her Sherlock Holmes-obsessed father) Tink spends her time sniffing out delinquent dads in the San Francisco Bay area and honing her detective skills.
But when her best friend Rose, an undercover agent, discovers there’s a stalker on her tail, she hires Tink as a bodyguard. Someone must be trying to intimidate Rose and scare her out of testifying in an upcoming case on looted Anasazi artifacts. But when Tink tries to flush-out the stalker, things take a far more dangerous turn.
Now, with a dead black-market dealer and an injured Rose on her hands, Tink must take her best friend’s place and follow the looters’ trail towards a powerful and lucrative antiquities collector in Cancun, Mexico. Equipped with an ingenious disguise and a teasingly coy persona to match, Tink is determined to find out who is behind the attack on Rose and the illegal trafficking of these priceless artifacts. Along the way, she will find help in the most unlikely of partners…
Deep in the jungle and far from civilization, Tink must decide who she can trust as she tries to unearth the ones responsible behind the pilfering and bloodshed―and still make it out alive.
Posted in Special Postings
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In Raven and the Panther by John Fennell II, readers meet very normal Barbara Ann, nicknamed “Raven” by her loved ones, a girl from rural West Virginia who, due to a shocking series of events, becomes an international spy in order to carry out a mission of revenge.
Raven’s story begins with her idyllic life – a perfect boyfriend completely devoted to her, a loving family, and a clear future pursuing work in the coal industry and caring for her aging mother. However, within a few short months and after several deaths, all of that is taken from her, and it’s not long before Raven’s excellent detective skills reveal it was the work of an organized crime unit right in her own small town. When she is given the opportunity to join a rival organization as a spy, she jumps at the chance to eventually even the score.
This story follows Raven as she faces the impossible question of following her heart or seeking an unknown and dangerous future in order to obtain justice. Readers will find themselves also asking how far they would go to do what they believe is right and what they would be willing to give up to find peace.
Raven’s quest is characterized by lots of spy bad-assery and revelling in watching a sexy, woman with a grudge toy with and rough up unscrupulous fat cats who think that their wrong-doings will never catch up to them. Raven’s organization takes down corruption at its most disguised level as they fight to preserve the conservative values that the book purports are sustaining America’s true way of life. If you want a story where right and wrong are black and white and the bad guys get what is coming to them, this story is extremely gratifying.
Readers are also treated to several steamy scenes which utilize a lot of creative terminology for bedroom extravaganzas. Removing these scenes from the book would make for a much shorter story, so plentiful are they, so get ready for the throes of passion and then some.
If readers can come to terms with the over-the-top dialog (“You know, Raven, during the day my heart is filled with love, and my dreams at night are only of you,” or “You bet, Naci. I love you so much. I don’t know how you do it, but your timing is perfect. I love our lovemaking”), a bit hard-to-follow scene transitions, and the suspiciously natural knack Raven shows for the spy industry, then they will love this book filled with swagger, romance, betrayal and action. From posthumous secrets to tracking down Nazi war criminals to covert Swiss bank accounts to international espionage to potato festivals, this book is one consecutive adventure after another.
Find out if Raven succeeds in her lifelong mission of tracking down the parties responsible for the deaths of those she loves, if her intrepid work will ever catch up to her, and if she can reconcile her quest to find peace with the ruthless deeds her new life demands.
Pages: 312 | ASIN: B077GSBRZ7
Tags: action, adventure, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, crime, crime fantasy, crime fiction, detective, ebook, espionage, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, john fennell, kindle, kobo, literature, murder, mystery, nook, novel, publishing, raven and the panther, read, reader, reading, romance, sex, shelfari, smashwords, spy, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writer community, writing
Craig Steele’s Time’s Up: She’s Breaking the Ice is a mile-a-minute crime mystery drama. Aussie Matilda is new in town and new to the force. She is teamed up with Jacqueline and makes fast friends with her. The two, along with their team, are investigating a string of murders with odd similarities. Dead and drained bodies are popping up with unexplainable circular wounds. Simultaneously, they are investigating street drug, Ice, and its effects. They want to know if they are connected. Storylines intertwine to connect the dots as they discover something more sinister than they could have imagined is afoot.
I enjoyed the relationship and humor between characters Matilda and Jacqueline. It’s nice to see the silly side of two highly trained and adept women. It makes the otherwise tough characters relatable. It shows their duality. They can have fun and joke and play around. They can also be independent and self-reliant and handle a weapon. I think readers, especially female readers, will appreciate that the women aren’t one-dimensional. Steele did a great job in developing the major characters.
Steele’s writing is very descriptive. This helped me picture the creatures in the sewer before I actually knew what they were. It also helped me picture the victims. This was not a read for those with weak stomachs. That being said, the gnarly details were relevant to the story. They were necessary in filling in details of the mysterious crimes.
The Ice storyline really hits home. It borrows from the front pages of newspapers and doesn’t paint over the ugly parts. Steele pulls in similarities to the current opioid crisis in America while tying it to Nazi-led drug experimentation of the past. The characters’ altered state while on Ice is scary, but an important cautionary tale. It serves as a warning of what could be, and readers will see similarities to our current climate.
I’ll admit the sight of 76 chapters and 600+ pages felt daunting. I’m afraid other readers may feel the same way, but I read the book over a week and it didn’t feel long and the plot flowed well. There are several instances where incorrect homophones are used, some sentence fragments due to misplaced periods, and some plural vs. possessive mistakes. But this does not detract from the overall entertaining story.
Craig Steele’s Time’s Up: She’s Breaking the Ice is well written and the characters are intriguing and deftly developed. The main characters were likeable, and the villains were easy to hate. I’d like to read more work by this author.
Pages: 333 | ASIN: B07F5X4782
Posted in Book Reviews
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The Cold Trail follows Sean Kruger as he finally goes back to what he does best to solve an old cold case. Did you know how you wanted this book to start and end or did things change as you were writing?
I know how I wanted to begin. But since I don’t outline, my books start with a two or three-page concept. Once I am comfortable with the concept, I then start to write. While I use the original concept as a guide, the story will evolve as it is written. Once a first draft is complete, it is time to go back and see if the plot works. Both The Imposter’s Trail (Book 3) and The Cold Trail required major surgery after the first drafts were finished. Book 3 saw 30,000 words cut from an 85,000-word manuscript. Similarly, The Cold Trail needed numerous nips and tucks as the story evolved. In fact, the original ending was thrown out and completely rethought.
I really like how characters from past novels made a reappearance. Did you let the story dictate who came back, or did you pick certain characters to make a reappearance?
The characters I believe you are referring to are Roy Griffin, Ryan Clark, Jimmie Gibbs and Sandy Knoll. You are correct, I wanted all four in this installment. The reason is simple, they will play major roles in Book Five and Six. Additionally, I want to explore the Jimmie Gibbs character more in-depth. We discover more about him and some of his motivation in The Cold Trail, we learn even more in Book Five. First draft of Book Five is almost fifty-percent complete, so I have a good idea of what I want to do with these characters.
I believe the Jimmie Gibbs character is strong enough for a stand-alone novel. However, I have two stand-alone stories in the concept phase waiting for attention.
What was one challenging aspect of this novel, or at least something you thought long and hard about before committing to it?
The three missing college students from the first chapter was inspired by an incident in my hometown back in the early 1990’s. Three women, two who had just graduated from high school, disappeared from a home in the center of town. They have never been found, nor has anyone been charged with their disappearance. I was acquainted with the father of one of the women, he has since passed away. As a father myself, I cannot imagine the pain of not knowing where your child is, or if they are even alive. These thoughts still bring a chill to my heart.
The concept of this novel was developed several years ago. But I lacked a good avenue to pursue it. It was the perfect premise to bring Kruger out of retirement.
The final solution to the missing women, I use in the book, may or may not have a basis in reality. In most missing person cases, a body is usually found. Not in the case of the missing women I mentioned above. Something extraordinary occurred to these three souls.
It seems like Sean Kruger is finally back where he belongs with the FBI. Where will the next book find Sean and when will it be available?
A writer friend of mine told me Kruger retiring is getting old. So, keeping this critique in mind, I decided not to retire him again, at least until the series is complete. The Cold Trail leaves the reader with several questions left unanswered. This was done on purpose as Book 5 is based on answering these questions. There will be two incidents in Book Five which will be used to set up the sixth Kruger installment.
My plans are to release Book 5, the current working title is The Predator’s Trail, in late December of 2018 or early January 2019. My goal is to have Book 6 out eight to nine months later. After that, as I mentioned, I have several stand-alone stories I want to tackle. But, I can assure everyone, there will be more than six Sean Kruger novels as long as I can keep the stories fresh and exciting.
With the help of his friend, JR Diminski, retired FBI profiler Sean Kruger rescues a female graduate student after she is kidnapped from the university campus where he teaches. He finds the abduction too familiar. From 1999 through 2002 six female college students vanished, without a trace, from four different college campuses across the country. As the lead FBI investigator on those now cold cases, his failure to find the women and the person responsible still haunts him.
When JR discovers a clue to the identity of the kidnapper, Kruger comes out of retirement to re-examine the abductions. His ensuing investigation will lead him down a dark trail: one of dark money and even darker passions.
Will Sean succeed or will the past repeat itself?
Tightly plotted with the trademark twists and turns of a J.C. Fields’ novel, The Cold Trail will keep you turning pages late into the night.
Posted in Interviews
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The Scented Bones is an outstanding contribution to the world of paranormal and light-hearted romance. The author, Angelina Kerner, provides a novel which opens up a whole range of emotions and mysteries. The unique plotline of The Scented Bones is both humorous, enticing and intense. Kerner’s nerve-wracking story line is perfect for those who are thrill seekers that enjoy all things odd, weird and truly abnormal.
From shape-shifters, to witches, to vampires and werewolves, The Scented Bones really does captivate all key elements of the paranormal world. Nothing beats a book that is full of mystery, tension and the unknown. Angelina is able to write a fluent and creative plot. Her heroine, Angel, is a forensic anthropologist when her life is turned upside down when the skeleton that she has been working on vanishes. This book follows case files to help solve what happened to the skeleton. But along the way, Angel has to face all sorts including the Fae Queen. Can she solve the case with the help of different paranormal families?
Angelina Kerner does a fantastic job at writing fluently with regards to her characters. Right from the offset, I was instantly drawn into the heroin, Angel, and her Grandma. The characters are well described, well thought out, and appeal to all types of reader. Kerner continues to keep the reader’s attention with both humans and paranormal characters, providing the ultimate paranormal novel.
One of the great things that Angelina Kerner articulates in her writing is the ability to look beyond reality and enter a world of pure make-believe. The author of The Scented Bones reinforces ideas such as the paranormal and the unknown – something that all of us are slightly bewildered by.
The Scented Bones is a book that is easy to follow and written with unique style and creativity. What is even more, is that the author has gone out of her way to create a vocabulary section at the beginning of her book to ensure readers know the meaning of bizarre words and/or phrases.
After reading The Scented Bones, I can safely say that this book took me out of my comfort zone. However, I can honestly say that I enjoyed the narrative, plot twists and characters. Angel plays the perfect heroine throughout this book, and I loved reading how her journey played on. From beginning to end, Angleina Kerner kept me on the edge of my seat. This is the first book that I have read by Kerner, and I can safely say that I will be back for more of her books.
An articulate, creative and highly imaginative novel blending an array of themes and emotions with the unnatural world. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Scented Bones and I believe this book has lots of things to offer a wide range of readers. You will not be disappointed with what this book has to offer! Trust me!
Pages: 156 | ASIN: B07DHZFBD4
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