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YEGman

YEGman by [Lavery, Konn]

YEGman by Konn Lavery is a dark thrilling romp through the back allies and underworld of Edmonton, Canada. Michael Bradford, our hero, is a vigilante, who struggles with violence. His issues aren’t going to get better as he investigates the most notorious gang in Edmonton, the Crystal moths. His methods are caught on film and uploaded online to become viral sensations and are labeled with the hashtag, YEGman. The videos fascinate a rebellious journalist, who wishes to cover the story of this mysterious hero.

This novel is an unexpectedly gritty trip through the Canadian crime scene that I don’t find too often in literature. Most of what comes to mind may be cozy mysteries, not ultra-violent vigilantes dealing with criminals. The novel takes a fun turn with the involvement of the student, Lola and how she gives a better and deeper inside look of the gang culture. In some ways, the trope is rather familiar with an attractive journalist in training along with the brooding vigilante in Bradford. It kind of brings to mind a mix of Batman, Spiderman, and Lois Lane. It’s an affirmation of Lavery’s skill to synthesize all of this together to make a novel that engages the reader and doesn’t let up until the end.

Lavery’s style leans on description, which helps to develop the world of this noir thriller, but I felt that the characters sometimes overly explain things. The prose is decent and kept me involved, but the pacing sometimes slows because of the over explanation which left me often wandering from the story. With an action packed story like this, putting the brakes on to go into detailed explanations lowers the tension on an otherwise exciting story.

This novel is plenty gritty, with a dark narrative and the definite feel that danger lurks within every shadow. With a consistently murky tone and treacherous atmosphere to the novel I was able to sink my teeth into the dark underworld set in an alternative Edmonton. For Canadian readers and noir thriller aficionados alike this novel would be a fun read, even people who enjoy a little bit of mystery and can tolerate the violence, this is recommended reading. Overall, an exciting addition to Lavery’s body of work.

Pages: 461 | ASIN: B07B3N5S92

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Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries

Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries by [Anastasiou, Mel]

Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries, by Mel Anastasiou, is a series of dramatic detective mysteries. The novel contains four different detective stories, each of which are interconnected yet independent. In addition to the stories, the opening of the book contains an interesting philosophical and logical argument. It also gives a hint to some of the content of the book. Anastasiou does an excellent job of providing depth to not only the characters and their actions and motivations, but also in the general style of her writing.

The novel practically seems to drip with British style. So much so, that without careful reading and generous knowledge of Canadian and American culture and institutions, most readers will probably assume that it is set somewhere in Britain instead of actually being set in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Having read her, Stella Ryman engenders the same feelings as most Dorothy Sayers detective stories. However, there are some subtle differences between the style of Stella Ryman and the British detective novels of the 19th and early 20th century. Those old stories tended to deal with a static, aristocratic society, police forces that were not corrupt, but were certainly not in any position to solve the case, and a lack of emotion among the affected cast of characters. Stella Ryman is similar and brings in other classic mystery themes: a senior care home provides a rather static environment (even though the residents may invariably change from time to time), the managers of the care home are bumbling but not corrupt, there are no supernatural causes in the story, there is a secret passageway, and Stella has a tendency to honestly declare her thoughts, intuitions, and deductions.

There are also significant tie-ins to American pulp detective novels as well, primarily in the commonality of the characters (there are almost no aristocrats and most people are average and middle-class) and the feeling of inevitability—that truth will out and that justice will be done. Overall, Stella Ryman seems to fit roughly a quarter of the way between British and American writing styles—perfect for Canada.

Stella Ryman, as a character, is quintessentially heroic — in the classic sense. At points throughout the book, it appears that Anastasiou is reading Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces as she is writing her own book. In the beginning, Stella refuses the call to adventure (being a detective), is completely content with her own mortality, and is merely waiting to die. Eventually, she realizes that there is a third option—something besides life and death. As a side note, herein lies a common theme within the novel, the breaking of logical fallacies—ad hominem, false dichotomies, circular arguments, causal fallacies, and hasty generalizations being the most common. Stella, after making her third choice, is confronted with supernatural assistance (Mad Cassandra, whom is herself rife with mythological allusions). Stella runs across a few other mentors along the way, makes a deep, personal transformation, and returns with a gift for her fellow residents: the ability to make life worth living again.

Overall, this book is an excellent read, full of colorful characters. Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries, is appropriate for teenage and adult readers. Although younger demographics may have difficulty with some of the allusions and references that are peppered throughout the book. Younger readers may also have difficulty relating to an octogenarian, but Stella’s tenacity is something certainly worth emulating. There is no obvious sexual content (there are hints, however) or illicit drug use, there is some personal violence, and a lot of discussion of heavy, emotional and existential topics.

Pages: 151 | ASIN: B06XTG2GWJ

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Serial K Returns

Serial K Returns by [Gallagher, Brian]

If you were waiting to find out what happened to Craig Breedlove, then look no further. Brian Gallagher returns to the mind of Breedlove and his unnatural obsessions in Serial K Returns. Once again, we find ourselves in the mind of a serial killer: we witness the world from his point of view and become intimately aware of what exactly drives him. It’s unclear how much time has passed since the first book and the second, but Breedlove appears to be a bit older than he was the first time he tangoed with the FBI. Ryan O’Callahan and Lea Pucci also make their return in this continuation of Serial K. Their relationship has progressed but how far these two will get in their renewed chase with Breedlove awaits us in this book.

Gallagher is good at making his characters seem like real human beings. Perhaps that is why there is so much profanity when they speak. While there is a certain level of profanity expected from a crime-thriller for adults, and we know from experience that Breedlove doesn’t have the largest vocabulary, it does detract from the tale when reading about FBI agents discussing a case and they are prone to swear every five seconds.

If that’s not something that makes you put down a book, then you won’t be disappointed with what’s left within the pages of this novel. While not perfect, the core of this story is very entertaining. This is not Gallagher’s first novel and his experience shows. The story flows better than the first one. He also cleverly intersects two different characters from two different books into the same world. This is exciting for those who enjoy reading stories that take place in the same universe. It shows a careful sense of world-building to have these two different stories connect on such a base level without feeling forced or contrived.

I felt that there was some unreal character development on behalf of Breedlove in the last few chapters. Breakthroughs in his own perception of the world and how he comes to view the people who are chasing him happen quickly. There is no concrete resolution on what will happen to Breedlove by the end of the novel, this may be Gallagher setting the stage for a third installment of the series, however. So, there might be something to look forward to in the end.

If you like reading edgy stories that push the boundaries than you will enjoy this second piece to the story of Craig Breedlove in Serial K Returns by Brian Gallagher. It’s a gritty diamond in the rough that would have benefited from another edit, but is otherwise very entertaining. The thought process behind Serial K Returns is just as forward-thinking as it was the first time in Serial K. Getting into the mind-space of a serial killer; identifying what drives them and what moves them to kill is not an easy task. This where I believe Brian Gallagher shines, and where Serial K Returns stands out from the rest. This will have you wondering how much of Breedlove do you see in yourself.

Pages: 299 | ASIN: B06Y3JNCSZ

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The Felony Lane Gang

A wave of crime grasped center stage at the beginning of the volcanic summer. The often abused by police, misused by society, shunned, and stereotyped patrons of the “hood” decided that their reparations would no longer be paid by the normal “Smash and grab”. Gun laws had changed. Stiffer penalties and mandatory time was a constant reminder whenever, The Felony Lane Gang clocked in. Blue collar crime was now at an all time low. White collar crime was their new way of life. Three siblings stormed into a world of destruction when the youngest known as Crackaboi decided to part ways with his modest upbringing. For the love of her baby brother Glory unknowingly stepped into a web of drugs and exotic entertainment. Tjohnnie, the oldest and the coldest felt a need to protect his siblings. After losing their parents to unfortunate circumstances, TJohnnie secretly led two lives. A college football player by day. A counterfeiter and money launderer for the Infamous Seminole Indian Tribe by night. Tired of the gruesome torture for hire jobs, Crackaboi teams up with a longtime friend and brutal killer Lil Turk. Together they mastermind the greatest heist in United States history. Surpassing Al Capone and Jon Gotti, the ruthless duo targeted every financial institution that was federally insured. Their lavish lifestyle enticed other potential members. Dodging the Feds, ducking the local authorities and slaughtering anyone who wandered down their path, they notoriously became known as, ” The Felony Lane Gang”. With crooked cops on their trail, the street rogues decide to take on one last heist. Crackaboi and Lil Turk burglarize a  century  old abandoned warehouse, in search of a quarter of million dollars supposedly stashed inside an old safe. They embark on a journey that leads to their beloved Glory, on life support fighting to stay alive. A bloody street-war against the Mexican Cartel Assassins and a trail of bodies that lead down a sea of destruction. With ties to the Illuminati and a billionaire oil tycoon, the double steel door safe tightly held secrets that would send chills through a psychopath’s spine.

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The “Urban Explorer” Subculture

Gordon MacKinney Author Interview

Gordon MacKinney Author Interview

Follow Me Down is a thrilling novel that follows Lucas as he seeks justice for his family while uncovering corruption in the city’s largest real estate development company. What was your inspiration for this novel and the setup to the story?

The never-used subway beneath Cincinnati is real—built during the Depression but abandoned and sealed up. I lived for years near Cincinnati, both scared and intrigued by ghosts beneath my feet. When I later learned about the “urban explorer” subculture, I HAD to write the story.

One thing I really appreciated in this story was the authenticity of the relationships. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating your characters?

Observant readers will notice one consistent theme for the four main characters: the plight of the underdog. Lucas, suppressed by corporate corruption. Alfred Blumenfeld, put down by cruel social mores, and Tricia Blumenfeld too, unwilling to play the part of the “good girl.” And Reuben, victimized for being short and Jewish. These characters deserved a voice and a shot at justice.

Lucas explores Cincinnati’s underground in this novel and the scenes were detailed and well developed. Why did you choose this setting for the novel?

In the story, protagonist Lucas reflects on a childhood experience descending voluntarily into a well on his grandfather’s farm. That scene resembles my own childhood “adventure.” What urban explorers do is just damn cool, risking capture and physical dangers in very cool places. Also, the noblest among these modern-day adventurers respect and revere the places they infiltrate. I admire them.

I find a problem in well-written novels, in that I always want there to be another book to keep the story going. Is there a second book planned?

Thank you! While I’m finished with Lucas for now, two new stories are underway. The first fictionalizes a true 1980’s battle between an auto manufacturer and an underdog labor union. The second, set in small-town USA, explores the plight of another underdog, a young woman unjustly blamed for a deadly accident.

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Follow Me Down by [MacKinney, Gordon]

Urban explorer Lucas Tremaine should buckle down and complete his Masters in Architecture, but the past torments him. Six years earlier, Drax Enterprises’ negligence killed his father and left his mother strung out on Valium. Lucas longs to punish the corrupt behemoth of Cincinnati real estate development, but what can one man do?

“Plenty,” says old Mr. Blumenfeld, Lucas’s boss and a former photojournalist with too many secrets. Evidence to bury Drax exists, he claims, but to find it, Lucas must breach the city’s welded-shut subway system. Lucas takes the plunge, aided by his best friend and moral compass, Reuben Klein.

The deeper the duo infiltrates the dangerous underground, the further back they turn the clock. They learn that Drax’s corruption intertwined with fascism’s rise in Germany. That campfire tales of a subway crypt were true. That no one can be trusted, not even Lucas’s boss.

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Point of Return and Vanquished

Point of Return and Vanquished

Point of Return by Lloyd Tosoff is an action thriller set in Great Britain. The story centers on a struggling, naive accountant Ian MacLeod and his entanglement with a murder conspiracy concocted by the Glaswegian underworld. He doesn’t become involved by choice because it is his friends who choose to mess with the Glasgow mob and their violent ways. He left the city, but after becoming an accountant, being in a loveless marriage, and losing his job, he ends up going back. He meets an old friend and a stranger when he arrives, and the mystery and conflict begin to envelop him as he realizes he has to fight for his life or lose it.

This novel is part of a “double novel” series, but Point of Return stands on its own as a snappy thriller that follows Ian Fleming’s Bond series. The first chapter begins with MacLeod still in Glasgow and his decision to leave the city, and then we jump eleven years into the future to when the real action starts, and the story picks up from there.

In many ways, Tosoff follows the regular beats for the unsuspecting hero to be swept up into a conspiracy and for a thriller, this trope is not a particularly unusual one. The real grit of Tosoff is how he chooses to have MacLeod deal with his past and personal connection to Glasgow instead. A victim of abuse at the hands of a violent stepfather, his inner demons come through in small bits and shapes his character. The reader is gradually introduced to these pieces of MacLeod’s past, and for the reader, it helps invest more of themselves in the narrative and our precarious hero.

The atmosphere and pacing do wonders for this book, which is critical for a thriller and Tosoff manages all of these elements quite well. The few times that the novel does become predictable it’s uniquely colored by MacLeod’s past struggles and how he faces them. I hope that his past conflicts come to a better resolution in the sequel, Vanquished, which takes place immediately following this novel, because I can’t wait to see what happens.

This novel is a perfect fit for fans of crime and spy thrillers, and fans of Ian Fleming may find a welcome new home among Tosoff’s pages.

Pages: 560 | ASIN: 1505533090

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A Top of the Line Predator

Kwen Griffeth Author Interview

Kwen Griffeth Author Interview

Shadow of the Moon follows Special Agent Trakes and Detective Meeker who are sent to a shocking crime scene where a faceless man sparks the beginning of a thrilling investigation. What interested you the most about writing this novel?

This is, at its core, a werewolf story and we all know the werewolf can be extremely violent. I started the story with the vicious crime to establish that part of the werewolf character. A few years ago, I read a novel and I was really disappointed by how the werewolves were described. The story bothered me and I kept thinking, “I can write a better story than that.” Shadow of the Moon is the result of that process and I hope I accomplished what I set out to do. I wanted to tell a story that held true to the idea of the werewolf being a top of the line predator, but I also wanted the wolf to be caring for the family and have a deeper character than is usually portrayed.

This story provides a lot of really great lore and information about werewolves. What kind of research did you do for this book?

Thank heavens for the internet. I did several searches in an effort to build as complete a history for the animal as I could. I wanted the reader to have a little fun and wonder if they just might be out there.

The story takes place in New York. Why choose this place and time for the setting of the story?

Special Agent Trakes is a throwback to the “G-men” of the 30’s and 40’s. She cares nothing about political ramifications and only focuses on getting the “bad guy.” I wanted her to be placed in a situation where she was handicapped and had to develop other strengths. I also wanted the contrast between the city and the country, where the Lloyds live. I wanted Trakes, who is tough and sure of herself to be off-balance.

What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?

“Shadow” will be a trilogy at minimum and book two, “Reflection of the Moon,” is planned to be out early next spring.

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We Have Known Some Wild People

Roxanne Burkey & Charles Breakfield Author Interview

Roxanne Burkey & Charles Breakfield Author Interview

In The Enigma Rising R Group is hired to find a missing heiress. They must learn to work together to uncover intelligence in the underworld of cyber crime as they confront drug traffickers turned money launderers. This is a thrilling setup to a suspenseful novel. What was your inspiration for the setup to this book?

It’s not hard to be inspired when you have lived and loved throughout your life. We are fortunate to have a venue to crystallize those moments, with those people who have rotated through our lives, and make it a compelling story. We have known some wild people.

I found the novel to be a clever thriller story. How did you balance quick action with intelligent story telling to give the book a quick tempo?

Practice! We want to be known as great story tellers and so you must be able to “wordsmith” not only the dialog and the characters but the story line itself. We spent a lot of time polishing the dialog, the story, and the characters to get the proper flavor for our goal of a good techno-thriller. Our beta readers and editor helped challenge us to make a better product at every opportunity.

Again, there is a host of intriguing characters in this novel. What was your favorite character to write for this time around?

We really got into our “bad boy” characters Juan and Carlos. These are the Bad Boys, mom’s warn their daughters about. And as the phrase goes “their characters grew legs and took off”.

How do you see the Enigma series evolving in the future?

Actually we have built a character universe of over 150 characters for use throughout the series. By the time the reader hits the 9th book (just getting ready to release) you will be able to answer that question for yourself. But as a comment to be a teaser, readers can expect the series to have different theme’s per book that include, identity theft and dark net (#1), high tech battlefield communications using nano-technology & Drones (#3), a virulent Ghost Code launched by two nefarious types code named Mephisto and Callisto (#4), predicting the future using supercomputers linked together (#5), genetic engineering of humans to live 1,000 years (#6), gamification and smart cities being held hostage (first CATS book) (#7), world commodity manipulations to crush corporations and countries (#8), and a team of analog information mules that drive shady corporate profits across the Dark Net (2nd CATS books (#9). We don’t think you’ll be disappointed in these grown up stories.

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The R-Group is the single most advanced information-gathering organization on the planet, providing services to the intelligence community on a contract basis. Their cutting-edge application of technology keeps their ability to gather, analyze, and use information well ahead of most major governments.

Carlos and Juan are entrepreneurs, although even the most generous observer would question the legality of their business model. The two brothers have discovered a way to covertly access satellite communications. Mostly, they’re putting their skills to work relocating drug lords targeted by the authorities, along with their cash, gold, artwork, and other assets—for a modest fee, of course.

When a valued private client hires the R-Group to track down a missing heiress, chance circumstance brings the technology leaders into contact with Carlos and Juan’s fly-by-night operation. The two brothers have skills the R-Group can use, so they offer them a chance to go legit. Presuming, of course, the brothers can rein in their contempt for societal rules.

A sequel to Breakfield and Burkey’s The Enigma Factor, The Enigma Rising continues their exploration of the high-stakes and high-tech world of information brokering as an engaging thriller of lost and found, loving and growing, and despicable greed.

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The Story Grew Darker

Zachary Brock Author Interview

Zachary Brock Author Interview

I really enjoyed the bond that Ace and Zeke had in your book A Dangerous Discovery. What was the inspiration for their relationship?

Actually, it is the banter and relationship I have with my father. That is what really inspired me to make these two characters more than just friends.

There are some thrilling twists in this novel. Did these happen organically while writing or were they mapped out?

I outline each chapter with how I want it to proceed and set up a story board with notes, but so many times the story takes on a life of its own and that is what happened here. I had the concept and the secret, but as I investigated and researched a lot of the incidents that occurred in South America, the story grew darker and darker. I actually let some things out because I thought it may be too dark.

What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am working on Book 2 of this series, as well as another fiction novel. Book 2 is tentatively set to be on the shelves in August of 2018. Book 2 is another Vatican conspiracy that I discovered when I was researching Book 1 and I think people will enjoy it.

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A Dangerous Discovery

Can Ace and Zeke survive the discovery of a lifetime: a secret the Vatican will stop at nothing to protect?

Marion (Ace) Acevedo grew up on the streets as a Latin American. The things he had to do to survive as a child, no one should have to do, but a chance encounter changed his life.

Now he is the face of an international corporation. Wealth, social standing and travel is what his life is all about. He loves what he does, and with the guiding hand of Ezekiel (Zeke) Smith, his mentor and friend, his life cannot get much better.

Unbeknownst to Ace and Zeke, the acquisition of a new company in Peru holds a secret the Vatican does not want discovered. Special agents from the Holy See will do anything to stop this secret from being released.

As Ace gets closer to uncovering this dangerous secret, he must use every skill he was taught from the streets and from his mentor. But, even with an unknown stranger looking out for him, Ace may lose it all, including his life.

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Going Gone!: A Trackers Novel

An intricate scheme to abduct the children of the most powerful politicians on Capitol Hill gets disrupted when Kerry Branson, ex-homicide detective turned private investigator, inadvertently rescues one of the victims on a fog-laden backroad in the Piney Woods of East Texas.

When Kerry discovers the six-year-old boy is the son of a U.S. Senator kidnapped from his Austin home, her call to the FBI is just the beginning of her problems. Pursued by a ruthless band of mercenaries who seem to know her every move, Kerry is forced into an uneasy alliance with the agent assigned to the case, FBI Tracker Ryan Barr.

As the abductions continue, their search for the children will pit Kerry and Ryan against a formidable adversary who uses his wealth and political power to cloak a psychopathic obsession. His manipulation extends deep into the government even to the Office of the President.

A horrific plan slowly emerges—one that has drug cartels and terrorist groups lined up to cash in.

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