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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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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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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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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The Testimony of a Villain by Aaron Harrell is a dark, slick ride into the gritty alleys of the inner city. The book is not your typical crime thriller but one with a social lens that can only be given substance by one who has lived it. The reader follows Manuel Doggett, a boy who lost everything to be formed by the streets and remade in its’ dark image. He is out for retribution not redemption when an opportunity arises to have his vengeance on one of the murderers of his family.
Harrell provides a fresh and new take to the “true crime” thriller. His style is so firmly set in the bitingly grime reality of the inner city that the reader could even give this novel a new sub-genre of socio-economic thriller. The new threads do not stop there either, because the plot of the book itself is almost like a hero’s journey in reverse. Manuel is the classic anti-hero and one that does not once look to the audience for sympathy. Instead, there is only apathy towards almost everything, except towards the memories of his past.
The weaving of the inner city struggle and the complex inner life of Manuel makes this novel a stand out for readers of not only crime thrillers, but also those who wish to delve into the dark, broken mind of a man walking the line between light and shadow. The writing is fraught with graphic images of both violence and sex and is not for the weak-hearted.
I found myself enjoying the book from the start, because of the quick and realistic dialogue and the meta conversation about corruption, justice and social strata. There are a lot of binaries at play here, between the poor and wealthy, justice and injustice, and morality and immorality. Harrell does a fantastic job with surveying these issues, touching on them just enough without becoming too explicit. I can only guess at what Harrell’s personal experience has been with the inner city, but I very much appreciated the taste of authenticity that he lends to the narrative.
I find Manuel to be a compelling character. Most readers may find something akin to the backstory of Batman here, but there is a real human struggle that Harrell puts on display often.
Overall, I do believe that The Testimony of a Villain stands up to the best the crime thriller genre has to offer. It makes for a pleasurable read for any fans of such novels!
Pages; 489 | ASIN: B06XG6FYVH
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Special Task Force: GREEN MAJIK, Pretty Hate Machine, written by Don Templeton, is a high paced action novel that begins with a suicide mission of a nine year old girl, Sadie Hawkins.
Soon after, during a homicide investigation, a phone call regarding a hard drive captures the attention of Detective Jack Carnahan; a man who teeters on the edge of breaking the law in order to capture the crooks. Through a twist of fate, the detective finds himself teaming up with an unlikely duo to expose an unimaginable terror that will shock the world.
Homeland Security, the FBI, alligator farmers and hypnotherapists intertwine in a race against time to find the truth before a terrible secret is unleashed.
Be prepared to cancel all prior engagements as this action packed, edge of your seat novel is a story you will not be prepared to put down. From the suburban streets of Colorado to the headquarters of police in Denver comes a tale of power-puff dressed, mini sized suicide attackers, Charlie’s Angels themed police officers, prostitutes and detectives who will withdraw a glock the moment strife arises.
Not for the faint hearted, the tone of the story is set with the opening chapter exploring a nine year old girl’s suicide mission within her school yard. Enthralled instantly, the reader is left to question what could possess such a terrifying act of horror. On the other side of town, Detective Jack Carnahan stumbles across a home invasion of a UFO crazed family man and soon finds himself working with unlikely allies- an acid addicted journalist and a perky prima donna porn star. The action will keep you on your toes as Carnahan races against time to discover what the connections could be between the brutal homicide and the suicide school yard mission. Not everything is as it seems and Carnahan dives deep into a storm of lies, deceit and ultimate evil.
Don Templeton has a remarkable talent in which he is able to paint a picture with his words and I easily envisioned his characters from the innocent Sadie to the curious hypnotherapist, Buffy Rayburn. The characters are introduced intermittently and together they form the pieces of an intriguing conspiracy puzzle.
Each character delves from unique circumstances. From thugs to hypnotherapists and journalists to prostitutes, every reader will find themselves a character who they adore.
My favourite character, Mallory Hammond, takes you on a journey into the swamps of Louisiana where she is investigating a gang of alligator farmers. Here she discovers a secret that will take you to the depths of your nightmares. Her co-workers perceive her as crazy and a somewhat introverted FBI agent however circumstances transform her from caterpillar to butterfly- a butterfly that is a sexy, capable, tomb raider style fighting machine who demands respect and admiration.
Don Templeton’s vivid imagery often evoked strong emotion through themes of violence, action and comradery and Jack Carnahan’s bravery and thirst for the truth will leave the readers hungry for more. From rescuing scantily dressed teenagers to stumbling across botched cover-ups, Templeton takes you on a whirlwind adventure which leaves you wondering, who can you really trust?
Pages: 379 | ASIN: B017FWYIVC
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The Ryder Quartet is a collection of four crime thriller novels featuring detective Jeremy Ryder. When creating Jeremy Ryder did you have a plan for his development and character traits or did he grow organically as you were writing the story?
Definitely organically rather than pre-determined, for me. There are, of course, authors who prefer to map out a novel before embarking on the task of writing. Some might prefer to write detailed and very specific profiles for each of their main characters. Others might prefer to work out in advance every major plot development. This is an entirely acceptable method, but it is one to which I don’t subscribe. My own preference is to discover more and more about my characters in the act of writing, as they grow together and fertilise one another and tempt me to take them down paths I had not intended. Who am I to decide, before the act of writing, the intricacies of these complex people and the nuances of their being? How can I presume to know them merely by mapping them in broad outline before I commence my intimate journey with them? I feel far more comfortable getting to know them as we proceed together through the complexities of their lives and their actions. Like the actor resistant to creativity-sapping ‘line-readings’ provided by some directors I like to think that through exploring rather than pre-determining I can create a narrative that is more organically in harmony with the personalities of the full cast of characters. Of course, this then means re-writing and adjusting and reversing and re-drafting. But for me that is the great joy of writing. It is the journey, not the destination that absorbs me.
I know that you have undertaken thorough research for these novels, visiting crime scenes, and interviewing detectives and victims. Is there anything that you saw or heard, and wanted to put in your novels, but couldn’t?
Yes. For example, I interviewed one victim of crime who described to me details that were so horrific that I could never have exposed them in print. I try to create scenes and events that are analogous, or homologous, to those from the real world, and then to develop fictional counterparts for those experiences. In that way I hope to keep my fiction rooted in – I hesitate to use the word ‘authenticity’ – a world of plausibility.
In each of the four books there are different sets of villains. Which was your favorite to write for?
I got to the point where I was living and breathing the character of Thabethe. In the middle of the night he was in my thoughts. When walking dogs, when eating meals, when watching a movie, I couldn’t get rid of this man. My wife enjoyed watching me, she says: she could see how immensely satisfied I was in this world of creative imagination. It probably also kept me out of her hair. Anyway, I wondered what made him tick, and I wondered how I could ensure that I remained honest and truthful to the character. I judged him, of course, as we always judge each other. But I didn’t want to simply invent him as a bad guy and leave him to his own devices. I needed to understand him to the best of my ability. So I never stopped exploring him. It’s an amazing process, creating fiction. I love it.
Where do you see Jeremy Ryder, let’s say, a year after the series ends?
I will definitely travel further with Ryder. I’m just completing my next book, and the focus in this one is not Ryder but another character that emerged in one of the quartet volumes. Because my focus is on the real world of policing and crime in and around Durban, Ryder will definitely be back. There are significant things happening there as I write this: things that impact upon crime, politics, morality, and many other issues in which I am interested.
The Ryder Quartet comprises four crime thrillers. Each of them is also separately available as an independent book. In this collection they form an overall cohesive narrative. Detective Jeremy Ryder and his colleagues pursue heinous criminals into the depths of the criminal underworld. The action takes place in Durban, South Africa, but the confrontation between the forces of law and justice on the one hand and criminal machinations on the other make these four stories relevant to any major city in the world. The author’s field work involved detective-guided tours through forensic analysis, to the front line of drug dealing, and into the private pain of victims of crime. Readers of the individual volumes have hailed the work as action-packed thrillers steeped in authenticity and plausibility, reflecting the real world of police encounters with the dark world of crime.
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