Blog Archives

Contracts For Sale

The disappearance of a wealthy CEO, corporate murder, and a ‘stealth’ company Eradication Inc. that operates below the radar providing a sophisticated hitman service: all of this forms the crux of Edward Izzi’s latest crime novel Contracts for Sale. This story begins with a chillingly efficient disposal of a well-dressed corpse in a vat of hydrofluoric acid—the perfect crime that leaves no body, no witnesses, no DNA. Paul Crawford, a journalist, along with the Chicago P.D and a news anchor Chaz Rizzo, work in a friends-and-enemies dynamic to solve the cases of Eradication Inc.’s ‘Houdini Victims’ with no discernible links to each other disappearing throughout the city of Chicago.

The irresistible lure that power and money has, coupled with the desire for revenge and control, is made very clear and is brought out well in this gritty story. Despite the millions that each of the seven shareholders of Eradication Inc. receive every year from the company’s nefarious activities, personal motives compel some of them to put out contracts against their personal enemies—something that the company strictly forbids.

The author does a good job of holding the reader’s attention with his account of the company’s workings, proven in the fact that the reader knows Eradication Inc. to be responsible for the murders within the first few chapters and is still engrossed in the story. The worlds of reporting and policing are de-glamorized in this book, with Crawford and Detective Dorian working to deadlines, reporting to superiors, and playing by the rules, something that is rarely shown in most police thrillers.

Contracts for Sale by Edwrad Izzi expertly combines strong characters, knowledgeable descriptions of Chicago’s geography and its environment, with the various fields of journalism, detectives, the mob underworld, and upscale society to tell a grounded and realistic police procedural story that is thrilling and compelling.

Pages: 334 | ASIN: B0BK4VQ21V

Buy Now From Amazon

Contrarian

Contrarian is the action-packed second novel in the “Lars the Hitman” series by Lucas Sterling. Lars Christopherson is a former Department of Homeland Security agent turned high-priced assassin. He uses his specific set of skills to take out undesirables like drug dealers and corrupt law enforcement officers while also donating large sums of money to an animal shelter.

The main focus of Contrarian is Lars’ dealings with Srepska, an eastern European terrorist organization plotting a massive eco-terrorism attack on the US. There’s lots of spying and subterfuge as Lars joins German agent Frederic Ulrich in unwinding a nefarious plot designed to destabilize the American economy.

Contrarian is an overly macho, entertaining tale. It is reminiscent of the action movies and spy thrillers of the 80s and 90s. The physical descriptions of most of the main characters read like stat lines for action heroes: 6’4″, athletic, and packed with deadly fighting skills! The characters’ internal monologues are aptly ridiculous as they think to themselves, “These guys are no match for my judo.” It’s filled with cliches and tropes of the genre, which is not necessarily a bad thing. More so, they make the tale comfortably familiar in a nostalgic sort of way. 

Lucas Sterling does an excellent job of weaving the story together, but at times I feel like Sterling’s prose is a little overwritten, being a bit too descriptive of details and actions that could be left in the reader’s mind. As a result, the novel starts a little slow, but the pacing takes off once the players are appropriately introduced and in place.

Contrarian is a swift and enjoyable conspiracy thriller that I feel anyone who likes action novels would enjoy. Readers of crime thrillers and suspense will find this book does not let you down when looking for that nostalgic feeling of undercover detectives.

Pages: 372 | ASIN : B0BHPXH3FD

Buy Now From Amazon

Do Nothing

The door is open, but you swear you closed it. Something – one small thing – is moved into your house, and you know it wasn’t you or anyone you know. You feel a chill across your body that notifies your brain – danger! 

Author Miguel Angel Hernandez Jr. knows how to recreate this feeling for the reader and delivers a hair-raising suspenseful thriller. Hernandez Jr. takes his audience on a ride as the main character, gruff and gritty Griffin Knight, attempts to find the murderer of New York City’s District Attorney Natalie Costa. The evidence and another similar murder point to the reemergence of a serial killer returning after 10 years. Known as “The Judge,” he’s handing out death sentences to people he feels did nothing when justice needs to be served. Griffin has help from the previous detective on the cold case and a mysterious benevolent hacker. It points to a negligence lawsuit where a significant corporation bribed witnesses to make one man fall for the company’s illegal practices. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel as the plot moved along quickly, and the character-hopping chapters kept me engaged as I figured out who this was and how they fit into the story. However, I would’ve liked Griffin Knight to have more character development. As a reader, I want to fall in love with the main character, and with very little background information on Griffin, we only see him as he is now. Detectives in stories like these are either the new hotshot or the seasoned and jaded type. I’m not sure where Griffin falls in this spectrum, but as the reader, I would have liked a chance to get to know him and care more about him when he is fighting for his life. Overall, the story was entertaining, fun to read, and still has me looking over my shoulder in a dark room. 

Do Nothing is a thrilling hard-boiled mystery that will have readers in suspense from the opening pages through the exciting conclusion. This short police procedural novel is perfect for a weekend read when you want to get your blood pumping.

Pages 76: | ASIN : B0BDJ8LZY8

Buy Now From Amazon

Time Terminus

Time Terminus is a novella that could easily be expanded into a full-length novel. This sci-fi action story is about Isaac Templeton, a high-powered lawyer whose puzzling nightmares foreshadow the need for him to eventually travel back in time to save the life of his girlfriend.

Through a series of complex plots and subplots, dipping in and out of time travel that is made possible by alien life, author David Gittlin tells the stories of Isaac and his complicated girlfriend, an inventor and a serial killer with a taste for disguise. The idea at the heart of this compelling story is a good one. There are twists and turns in the plot and plenty of action interspersed through lengthy passages of dialogue that propel the plot forward. The flashback technique Gittlin uses is handled quite well, although there are times it feels like some ideas could benefit from further exploration. The author gives his characters a great sense of depth and range and I wish that the novel was longer so that we can stay with the characters and learn more about them.

The best part of Time Terminus is the skill with which the author handles the complications and paradoxes inherent in any story that deals with time travel. It’s clear he has thoroughly considered the effects on the present if you could go back to the past and do things differently. However, I would have liked to see him explore this in more depth.

Time Terminus: Expect the Unexpected is a quick and entertaining crime and mystery novel that uses interesting time travel elements to really liven up the story overall. The many subplots hint at a much more complicated story than Gittlin gives us, and I look forward to reading more from this author.   

ASIN : B0BBSFHRYZ

Buy Now From Amazon

Impact On High Profile Criminal Cases

Doug Bremner Author Interview

Justice in the Age of Judgment examines the role of media and the public amidst publicized murder trials in recent history. How much research did you undertake for this book, and how much time did it take to put it all together?

We spent several years researching the cases in this book, and as we wrote new events unfolded, including the cases of George Floyd, Kyle Rittenhouse and Ahmaud Arbery, that we felt were relevant and should be included as well

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

A central focus of the book is how the media, including social media, impact on high profile criminal cases, and how they can influence and promote quick opinions that are often different than the facts as they are presented in a court of law.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?

That our legal system is worth fighting for, that decisions about guilt or innocence need to be made in a court of law, not in the court of public opinion

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

From Amanda Knox to O.J., Casey Anthony to Kyle Rittenhouse, our justice system faces scrutiny and pressure from the media and public like never before.  Can the bedrock of “innocent until proven guilty” survive in what acclaimed Seattle attorney and legal analyst Anne Bremner calls the age of judgement?  

When unscrupulous Italian prosecutors waged an all-out war in the media and courtroom to wrongly convict American exchange student Amanda Knox for a murder she didn’t commit, family and friends turned to renowned Seattle attorney and media legal analyst Anne Bremner to help win her freedom. The case was dubbed the “trial of the decade” and would coincide with the explosion of social media and a new era of trying cases in public as much as the courtroom. While Italian prosecutors, the press, and online lynch mobs convicted Knox in the court of public opinion, Bremner would draw upon her decades in the courtroom and in front of the camera to turn the tide with a new kind of defense in pursuit of justice.

In Justice in the Age of Judgement, Anne Bremner and Doug Bremner take us inside some of the biggest cases of recent times and offer their expert, thought-provoking insights and analysis as our legal system faces unprecedented forces fighting to tip the scales of justice their way. Why couldn’t prosecutors convict O.J. Simpson despite all of the evidence seemingly proving he killed his wife Nicole? Could a jury remain unbiased in the face of overwhelming public pressure in the trial of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd? Why was Kyle Rittenhouse exonerated after shooting three people (killing two) with an assault rifle at a violent rally despite widespread media reports seemingly proving his guilt, and national calls for his conviction?

Justice in the Age of Judgement is an unparalleled and unflinching look at the captivating cases tried on Twitter and TV, where the burden of proof and fundamental legal tenet of “innocent until proven guilty” is under assault from the court of public opinion.

Last Verse

Last Verse: A Harry Stallard Mystery by S. J. Talbot is a fast-paced, suspenseful crime thriller that keeps every reader on the edge of their seats until the end.

Harry Stallard is an ambitious individual who aspires to prove himself as a talented undercover officer. A turn of events takes him out of the action, and he is quickly reallocated to investigate boring cold cases. Soon he finds out that the case he’s been assigned to might be holding some dark, mysterious secrets behind. Utilizing his talents as an undercover officer, he begins to meticulously retrace the steps of the case, finding himself at the center of a series of events that seem to be leading to something more sinister than expected. A rising band member has been missing for months, and strange deaths start to occur as the case is revisited. Drugs, music deals, money… Where could all the clues lead to?

The tension that this book builds is fantastic. From the very beginning, the reader is hooked on the story. This is emphasized by the presence of a highly charismatic main character. Harry Stallard has an interesting way of thinking and seeing the world. He’s confident and quite passionate about his line of work. Once he starts working on a case, he truly immerses himself in it, thus taking the reader with him on this investigative immersion. Stallard is smart and experienced, but he’s not perfect. He constantly finds himself in dangerous situations, making up for a gripping storyline where the odds are not clear to the reader.

After some time, the plot thickens, and the emergence of new discoveries makes the reader want to read faster in order to figure out the truth and motivations of the case. With exciting chapters and new developments at every turn of the page, it’s hard to get bored. The story has fast pacing and is devoured rather quickly by the reader, who is guided by Stallard’s mind and just as eager to get to the bottom of it all.

Last Verse is a riveting and gripping mystery with humorous twists that help alleviate the tension of the enigma that Stallard is involved in. His charisma and dedication will end up being the thing that makes him shine throughout the entire book, making up for an excellent mix of compelling characters and an enthralling plot. There’s no escape: the story is addictive, and one is quickly engrossed in it.

Pages: 374 | ASIN : B0BC2RGFLX

Buy Now From Amazon

Scam at Old River

Jack is no stranger to difficult situations. It’s certainly not unheard of for him to get into the occasional jam, but his current predicament might be the strangest one yet. When Jack awakens to find a stranger beating on his door, he can’t predict the wild ride on which he will soon find himself. Debbie, the woman he has been seeing, has somewhat of a secret she has been keeping from him, and the man beating down Jack’s door knows exactly what that secret is. Assuming he is about to find help for them both, Jack calls the police, only to discover that Debbie is long gone.

Scam at Old River, by Mike MacKay, is a mystery/crime novel centered around Jack Rhodes, a man skilled in both computers and martial arts. Every interaction with Jack is an adventure, and he is no stranger to romance. As the main characters go, Jack is gutsy, determined, and possesses a sense of humor that lends itself well to this genre.

Mysteries have always topped my reading lists, and MacKay’s works rank right up there. MacKay keeps readers on their toes and leads them through a series of quickly-paced events, each peppered with the perfect amount of action and intense interactions between characters. Jack is a no-nonsense guy who gets to the point but has to deal with more than his fair share of struggles as he searches for answers.

The secondary characters in MacKay’s novel are ideal companions for Jack. Their dynamics are relatable and hold readers’ interest from the book’s intense first chapter to its final pages. Stella and Jack have some truly genuine exchanges throughout the book. The way they discuss their pasts and share with one another sets the stage for a relationship readers will cheer for from the beginning.

Jack’s unique skills make MacKay’s book a standout in the mystery genre. I found it interesting that the main character’s skillset centered around computers and processes and the way they relate to forensics. Though MacKay has chosen to give him physical strength and knowledge in martial arts, his abilities with computers make him all the more interesting.

Scam at Old River, by Mike MacKay, is a little more than 300 pages, but this novel moves quickly, keeping readers engaged and fully invested in Jack and Stella’s adventure. I highly recommend MacKay’s book to anyone looking for mystery/crime steeped in action with a touch of romance. I look forward to following Jack Rhodes throughout more of Mike MacKay’s novels.

Pages: 305 | ASIN : B092Z81G7L

Buy Now From Amazon

The Parables of Chance

Book Review Icon

The Parables of Chance by John Nicholson tells the story of people living in a small town in the Midwest called Parables. The characters are seemingly separate from each other but tied together in ways they don’t see. Using the technique of an omnipresent narrator, Nicholson utilizes a play on words to examine a town growing and changing in ways the locals’ regret. The treatment of animals is the yardstick by which this society is measured. Abused and abandoned animals used to be unusual but are now becoming more common. As an old-timer, Sam laments, “The more this town grows, the farther it drifts from the values that made it such a great place.”

The main character around which most of the story revolves is a cat called Tabby. He is a pawn in a bitter split, beloved by Tony but given to Ruth in their divorce settlement. In a fit of misguided vengeance, Ruth abandons him. Tabby is then cruelly abused by a drunk called Rick and attacked by a wily street cat and then a fox; he is finally rescued by a kind-hearted student nurse, Lizzie, and she renames him Chance.

All the kind and terrible things the characters do or experience are tied somehow to Tabby/Chance and each other. A fistfight between Tony and Rick over the cat results in Olivia almost losing her baby. Unknown to Olivia, the nurse who treats her and gives her hope is the same woman who rescued Tabby.

The Parables of Chance is satisfying in that, unlike real life, in these “parables,” the bad guys get what’s coming to them, and the good guys get their “chance,” learn their lessons and find their happy endings. This novel is filled with suspense and drama that readers will be hooked into as they follow a mistreated tabby cat named Cance.

Pages: 247

%d bloggers like this: