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Sorcerers Prayer: Precious Blood

Kawika has just lost his wife of many years to cancer. He looks to live through the gut-wrenching pain and move on with life. But little does he know that he’d soon be running to preserve his own life. It all begins with the murder of a financial expert on the Hawaiian island where he stays. The unfortunate victim appears to have died in the strangest of ways. Joe Adams, the lead detective investigating the case then opts to bring in a Hawaiian anthropology expert to make sense of the ritualistic elements littering the crime scene. Kawika – a professor of Hawaiian anthropology – takes up the task and begins to uncover shocking truths alongside the detective. They find evidence suggesting that the murderer would kill again and Kawika and his relations are among his potential victims. But who is the mysterious killer and why is he on a mission to take out the descendants of the members of an ancient Hawaiian cult?

Luigi N. Spring does something special with Sorcerer’s Prayer. It’s a gripping Hawaiian tale dripping with suspense. A real page-turner that had me channelling my inner Sherlock Holmes in an attempt to solve the story’s mysteries. Written in an immersive style, Luigi was able to pull me into the story. On more than one occasion, I found myself muttering warnings to characters who were about to meet their doom.

Luigi sets the stage of the story on the captivating Islands of Hawaii. This allows him to weave thrilling bits of the Hawaiian culture into his tale and this adds so much color to the story. From the society’s history to the people’s language and practices, Luigi gives us a good descriptions of Hawaiian culture without appearing to take me through a history lesson.

Apart from making the cultural details of his setting fun, Luigi also includes them smartly. He sprinkles these facts in a way that they wouldn’t distract you from the book’s plot and themes. He ensures that his thoughts on the human mind, retribution, inclusion and love aren’t drowned out by the noise of too many details. This also allows the personalities of his characters to shine through. Kawika was particularly fascinating – a typical example of a seemingly weak protagonist who ends up rising to the occasion.

The author is a fan of mystery thrillers and claims to have been inspired by the works of Dan Brown and James Rollins. There’s no doubt he chose good models and didn’t do too badly with this book. If you have enjoyed the works of Luigi’s mentors, his style isn’t a far cry from theirs.

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Aren’t We All Some Kind of Contradiction?

Michael Pronko Author Interview

Michael Pronko Author Interview

In Tokyo Traffic detective Hiroshi is once again called in, to solve a crime that involves human trafficking and crypto-currency scamming. Did you know what criminal themes you were going to use for this novel or did they develop while writing?

The theme was there from the beginning, but only in an abstract way. The concrete actions and decisions of the characters, along with the motivations and results, shaped the themes and made it something to see and touch and feel. The interesting part is how they develop inside the characters. As those broad themes became embodied in the characters, they came alive.

At first the theme of human trafficking threatened to swamp the whole story. It’s too big and too horrible. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered how can they get away with that? How can something so vicious and inhumane just keep going? And who’s “they”? Part of the answer is cryptocurrency. Follow the money to where theme meets characters. Some people will cast aside all human feeling for money, and cryptocurrency makes that easier. Its hidden, digital, clean. Of course, the way of the future will probably be all kinds of digital currencies, but the downside is how people use that illicitly, and for such terrible purposes.

This being book three in your series was there anything new you wanted to introduce into Hiroshi’s character?

He moves in with his girlfriend and works at being with her and not sleeping in his office on a pull-out futon. That’s hard work for him. Overall, Hiroshi gets a bit more of his footing in this novel. His skill set is limited, so he bumps against his own limitations, but he learns to pay attention to what he stumbles onto, what he suspects but isn’t sure of, and what others tell him. An intuitive accountant may sound like a contradiction, but aren’t we all some kind of contradiction? We all have that internal division between our different sides.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

This one took me a lot longer to finish than the second one. The tricky part was having three main characters. Before I’d always just focused on two. Adding that third one made the story exponentially harder to keep track of. Braiding the three threads of the bad guy, the victim and the detective, plus the people on their side, was tricky. It was like passing a point-of-view baton. The race kept going as each character carried it a bit further. But to me, that’s very Tokyo-like, different kinds of stories flung together.

It was also a challenge to have two young women as main characters. Sukanya doesn’t know Tokyo at all and Chiho knows Tokyo all too well. So, those two different young women and their different views of Tokyo were hard to get right. But I felt their point of view was important. They see the city so differently than I do, but that’s the interesting part. I’m not sure I set those as challenges for myself, writing is enough of a challenge in and of itself, but those became the challenges to tell the story the way I wanted to.

Does Tokyo Traffic end the story for detective Hiroshi or do you have other novels planned?

I have two more in the Hiroshi series already outlined. The one I’m working on right now is titled Tokyo Overtime. It’s about the pressures of the workplace. What other country in the world has a word, karoshi, for death from overwork? After that, I’m planning to write about the whole fish industry, which is very big business in Japan. Two years ago, one of the owners of a sushi chain restaurant paid the equivalent of three million dollars for a single six-hundred-pound bluefin tuna! After that, I have notes for a standalone with sumo wrestler-turned-detective Sakaguchi and Detective Takamatsu is ripe for a prequel about his early, rough days. So, I’ll see where those lead. I’m looking forward to finding out.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Tokyo Traffic (Detective Hiroshi Tokyo Series Book 3) by [Michael Pronko]

Running from a life she didn’t choose, in a city she doesn’t know Sukanya, a young Thai girl, loses herself in the vastness of Tokyo. With her Bangkok street smarts, and some stolen money, she stays ahead of her former captors who will do anything to recover the computer she took. After befriending Chiho, a Japanese girl living in an internet café, Sukanya makes plans to rid herself of her pursuers, and her past, forever.

In Tokyo, street smarts aren’t always enough

Meanwhile, Detective Hiroshi Shimizu leaves the safe confines of his office to investigate a porn studio where a brutal triple murder took place. The studio’s accounts point him in multiple directions at once. Together with ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi and old-school Takamatsu, Hiroshi tracks the killers through Tokyo’s music clubs and teen hangouts, bayside docks and byways, straight into the underbelly of the global economy.

As bodies wash up from Tokyo Bay, Hiroshi tries to find the Thai girl at the center of it all, whose name he doesn’t even know. He uncovers a human trafficking ring and cryptocurrency scammers whose connections extend to the highest levels of Tokyo’s power elite.

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Christmas and Thrillers

Kristina Rienzi Author Interview

Kristina Rienzi Author Interview

Winter Road follows Amelia who’s heading home for Christmas and must deal with her family, her new love and her dangerous ex-fiance. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?

I wish I knew what specifically inspired me to write Winter Road. It was a story that came to me and then told itself, almost in a blink. If all my stories did that, I’d be a much more prolific writer! What I remember most is driving home from work in late fall, thinking about the upcoming holidays, and the title popped in my head out of nowhere. Looking back, it was a little bit of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic (a perfect book for creatives). Winter Road began to slowly unfold in front of my eyes from that moment on. Instead of driving on the Garden State Parkway in massive traffic, I was suddenly the only car on a rural-snow covered road heading home for the holidays. A foreboding hung over me as I pictured a woman escaping her big city life, running from a relationship gone wrong and into the arms of a family in crisis. The pieces cemented together in my mind creating an explosive holiday celebration. It, oddly, allowed me to marry two of my favorite things: Christmas and thrillers.

Amelia was a strong female lead that never really wilted under pressure. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

Amelia’s primary value is family, which she lost along the way by getting wrapped up in an all-consuming relationship and blossoming career. When the person she was expected to be collided with who she really was, her world began to unravel and life became clear. She lost her independence and was under the thumb of a man she thought she wanted, but didn’t. Going home was the only way for her to reconnect with her true self and to be reminded of her strong, familial roots, and find herself again.

I enjoyed how you were able to create an aura of danger around Jake and his intentions. What were some influences that guided his relationship with Amelia?

Sociopathology comes to mind! Jake, oddly, couldn’t love anyone because his capacity to love was limited – not only from his past, but from his psychological challenges. Therefore, he was all about ownership. Possession. And it defined him – what he had and who he controlled. When the core of his identity was under siege, his only option was to retaliate with deadly force.

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

I’m currently writing a paranormal thriller, Unleash the Wicked. It follows a former Manhattan socialite who’s forced to move back to her mysterious hometown where she faces her tragic past and, unwittingly, unleashes a deadly curse. With an 11 month old, it’s anyone’s guess when it will be published, but I’m hoping before my daughter goes to school!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Winter Road: A Novella by [Kristina Rienzi]

HOLIDAY ROAD
On the heels of a bad breakup, Amelia Montgomery heads home for the holidays. Her hometown is a far cry from the metropolis where she lives now, but not nearly far enough away from Jake Grayson.

TERROR ROAD
Amelia’s family festivities turn terrifying when a distraught Jake shows up uninvited on the Montgomery’s doorstep. Jake will not stop until he possesses Amelia; one way or another, she will be his.

DEADLY ROAD
In a chilling nightmare, one man’s obsession is so evil, it’s deadly. Amelia must fight for her life, and the lives of those she loves most, in the only place she’s ever called home…WINTER ROAD.

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Tokyo Traffic

Tokyo Traffic (Detective Hiroshi Tokyo Series Book 3) by [Michael Pronko]

When bodies start to pop up in Tokyo bay detective Hiroshi is one again called in to solve the horrible case and put together the pieces to a perplexing crime that involves the grim underworld of human trafficking and crypto-currency scamming.

Pronko’s characters are always something I look forward to. This being the third book in the Detective Hiroshi Tokyo series I found detective Hiroshi to be a well established character but Hiroshi Shimizu continues to hold an allure that is subtle yet ever present. While the investigation seems to go off in many directions I was always impressed with Hiroshi’s detective skills, which were always believable, which allowed me to follow an otherwise circuitous story easily.

Sukanya is the story of a girl lost in a big city. She’s being chased by thugs but luckily for her her cunning and intelligence keeps her one step ahead of the villains. It’s always nice to see strong female leads and with Sukanya and Chiho we’re treated to a nuanced view of women contending with a dense city that cares little for them by using their own wits.

The way in which these two genuinely intriguing characters riveting story lines come together is something that I rarely see and makes Tokyo Traffic the most thrilling book I’ve read this year. We’re treated to modern versions of Japanese culture that have evolved in the shadow of Tokyo. Michael Pronko creates the backdrop to this story as if it is a character all on its own and invites readers into this colorful world in an easy yet striking way.

If you’re looking for a thrilling crime fiction set in an exotic location then Tokyo Traffic is a prime choice. The enigmatic mystery at the heart of this intriguing novel was something I swiftly gave up in trying to solve as I realized that the chaotic and dramatic journey was the fun part. Tokyo Traffic is an exceptional ending to an extraordinary series from a mystery writer that knows how to entertain.

Pages: 341 | ASIN: B087QVRXZB

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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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Captive Threat

Captive Threat (The Wade Hanna Series Book 5)

You know a story is good when it makes it to the fifth installment. A story needs to be captivating, with intriguing characters and compelling action. Readers will find all of that and more in Joseph D’Antoni’s Captive Threat. This book is an addition to his ever-popular Wade Hanna series. It’s easy to see why these books have been able to sustain themselves for so long. The life that Wade leads is not typical at all. This includes his romances. Here we find a story steeped in action with heart-pounding risks and careful planning. Those who enjoy a great action-packed crime/military intelligence novel will definitely be entertained by what occurs within these pages. Where will Wade end up this time? Will he finally get to move forward in his relationship with Megan? Or will this task finally end up being too much for him?

While this is an installment in a series, it is not wholly necessary to read the previous four books. Yes, they will provide important backstory, but D’Antoni writes in such a way that a reader will not be lost. Even the complicated aspects of Wade and Megan’s relationship is not lost in this book. It is difficult to write in such a way that you can captivate newcomers without leaving them confused. A master of his craft, it is clear that D’Antoni knows what he’s doing. At first, the book doesn’t even feel like it’s about Wade at all, but about Megan. About what she is going through after her return to American soil. She has suffered an ordeal and D’Antoni takes the required time to have her move through these complicated feelings and post-traumatic experiences. This is how you capture readers.

The character development is very well planned and carefully laid out. When you have existing characters that have been carrying on for books upon books it’s easy to swap out romantic partners or close friends in favour of an exciting new character. It is clear that our author has spent the time energy required to foster and develop the relationships from existing installments. This is something not many serial authors can accomplish. Coupled with character development are the action scenes as Wade and company foray into their battlefields. Nothing feels out of place or too over the top. There is a pleasant balance between story development and a good old-fashioned fight.

If you are looking for a book that is exciting to read while giving you those complicated portrayals of human emotion then you have found what you are looking for in Captive Threat. It’s an excellent example of a crime/military novel married to dramatic elements done right. For the series to have gone on for as many installments as it has, it is clear that something is being done right here. There is even the potential for another installment into the Wade Hanna series based solely off how our adventure ends. Your heart will race for more than one reason as you devour the words in this tale. But still we are left wondering, where will Wade end up now?

Pages: 389 | ASIN: B01M3OAV36

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People-Watching

Michael Pronko Author Interview

Michael Pronko Author Interview

The Last Train revolves around Michiko Suzuki and the team of detectives that are investigating the train murders. What was the inspiration to the setup to this thrilling novel?

For quite a few years I was writing about jazz every week, so I was always going to Roppongi and Shinjuku and Shibuya, nightlife parts of the city. I’d see the hostesses who work in all the clubs there, and they would often be in the jazz clubs. They were almost always strikingly attractive, but underneath that seemed some sadness. Whatever one thinks of their work, the women seemed smart. What impressed me most, though, was the great personal dignity with which they carried themselves. So, I started wondering what kind of life those women lived, and what if they turned the tables. What if one of those people-savvy women took things into her own hands to do things men usually do? And what was this odd dynamic between men and women that seemed so unfair to women, but then again, was something else, too. Many Japanese women might not even say Japanese society is unfair exactly, perhaps because Tokyo is home to a vibrant urban culture where women are incredibly free to do what they want and live how they like. But, what would that freedom turn into if taken to an extreme? Michiko is that extreme. The men struggle to catch up.

Michiko is the daughter of a factory owner whose mother died when she was young. Her character continues to get deeper as the story progresses. What did you use as a starting point for the character and what was your guidance as you built the character?

I think the way Michiko grew as a character was based on my observation of women, and men, in Tokyo, but all kinds of women, not just hostesses. There’s a lot of people TO observe in Tokyo, for one thing, but I like to talk and interact with people as much as I can. Michiko is a “typical” character in that her experience parallels the shift in Japan from a manufacturing society, which is where Michiko grew up, to an information and service society, which is how she makes money. I wondered how that shift affected women? Is it easier for women to adapt to economic changes than men, or harder? Michiko is working class in origin, growing up above a factory, but she turns herself into something else altogether through her own efforts. She’s tough and resilient, which is how I see most Japanese women, and yet still very feminine in traditional ways. She has no hesitation to compete in a man’s world, and to do it on her own terms. Like many characters, once she was created, everything followed from that.

The novel takes place in Tokyo. Why did you choose a train station in Japan as the setting to your novel?

Trains are one of the things I love most about Tokyo, but they are also these huge masses of steel shooting through a very densely populated city. Just as America is built around the car, Tokyo is built around trains. Suicides on the train lines, sadly, happen all too often.

I came upon the clean-up after a suicide one time years ago, and the image stayed with me.

Like every other commuter, I have been stuck waiting on a train or a platform when a suicide shuts down the entire train system. It’s so shocking because usually everything runs on time. So, I guess, if you transplant the American car chase to Tokyo, it becomes a train chase, or a chase on a train. I also like that as a setting because trains and train stations are great levelers. Everyone takes the train, together, equally. I also love trains and train stations because I can completely indulge in people-watching. It’s startling how many people you see in a day. Still, it’s never so lonely as in a crowd, and there’s always a crowd in Tokyo.

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

The next novel is called Japan Hand and Detective Hiroshi is again in the lead, together with Sakaguchi. They investigate the death of a long-time Japan specialist who helped negotiate the complicated relations between Japan and America, including the US military bases in Japan. That novel should be out by December of this year or early 2018. The next one after that is called Thai Girl in Tokyo and will be out in spring of 2018. I’ve finished writing those both, so they’re now being edited and polished.

Pages: 348 | ASIN: B071DPXP7M

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The Tenth Nail

Nate knelt beside the dead girl. This wasn’t his first homicide, it wasn’t even the first dead prostitute he’d investigated. It wasn’t the first strangling death he’d been assigned to. But, this one bothered him.

Maybe it was her youth, she appeared to be in her early twenties. Maybe it was her looks, as death had yet to rob her of her beauty. Maybe she reminded him of his own daughter, Lizzie, who was only a few years younger. Maybe it was something else entirely.

The big detective looked over the body, careful not to touch or disturb her. He had one of the best crime scene technicians, Winston Rawls, and he did not want to make his job harder.

“Look at her fingernails,” Rawls observed from the other side of the body.
“What about them?”
“Most of them are broken and some are torn free of the quick. Some are missing.”
Nate slowed his visual scanning of the girl and focused on her hands. Rawls was right, the nails were ragged, broken, and torn. Some of her fingers ended with just the bloody fingertips.
It made his injured finger hurt. Maybe this was why this murder haunted him from the start.

The girl’s hands were bagged in plastic to preserve evidence that hopefully was there. Gently, Nate lifted a hand, holding it on his open palm. He looked at the girls eyes, that looked down and away from him.
“I don’t know what happened that led you to this place. I don’t know why you chose to live the life you did. But you deserved better than this.”
Rawls looked at Nate with an expression that asked, “What are you doing?”
Nate glanced at the technician and then focused again on the girl’s hand.
“I promise you, I give you my word, I will find who ever did this to you and I will bring him to justice. I will hold him accountable for this. Rest assured.”
Gently, as if he didn’t want to wake her, Nate lowered the girl’s hand to the pavement. He stood and Rawls stood with him.
“Do you want to tell me what that was all about?”
Nate studied the bearded tech, “I made her a promise.”
“Nate, you and I both know solving the death of a streetwalker is one of the hardest crimes to solve. Unless she was killed by her pimp, or another girl jealous of her, the doer is a complete stranger. There’s just not enough to tie the two people together.”
Rawls shook his head, “You’ve worked more of these than I have. You know how difficult this is going to be.”
Nate looked at Rawls, placed a hand on the technician’s shoulder, “I made her a promise.”
He turned and walked from the alley, giving the technician a controlled wave, “See you at the morgue.”

The Tenth Nail is the story of a homicide detective obsessed in finding the killer of a streetwalker. It is fast paced, with well developed characters and a twist at the end most will not see coming.

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