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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Going Gone is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a crime drama, thriller, and a bit of the supernatural as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
Going Gone! is the second of the Tracker Novels. Trackers are an elite FBI unit. Each agent has an unusual gift.
From the first page, the plot was set with a high-profile crime. Children of politicians were being kidnapped. With no ransom demands, the investigation took on an added intensity, to find out why the children were kidnapped. The answer became a race against the clock.
Tracker Ryan Barr is the unit profiler and lead investigator for the case. He got more help than he bargained for in his dramatic encounter with ex-homicide detective turned private investigator Kerry Branson. Kerry has talents of her own that has Ryan second guessing her actions.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
That is a difficult one to answer. I like all the characters and developing individual characteristics was a challenge. The team is headed by Scott Fleming, and the agents are Cat Morgan, Ryan Barr, Adrian Dillard, Blake Kenner, Kevin Hunter, and Nicole Allison. If I had to select one, though, it would be Scott Fleming. He is the power, the mysterious driving force behind the team.
I felt that Kerry added layers to her characters as the story went on. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
I like characters who have empathy along with a toughness that propels them over any difficulties they encounter. They don’t back down. I’d like to think I built on the concept as Kerry met the obstacles and dangers in the investigation head-on, but her compassion never wavered.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
It is a third Tracker novel set in Texas. A missing ATF agent in Laredo, Texas sets the Tracker team in action. Adrian Dillard takes center stage as the lead investigator. He may have met his match when he encounters the feisty homicide detective, Casey Harlowe, who doesn’t hesitate to step over the line to get answers. Her link to the missing agent adds another layer of complication for Adrian. I hope to have it released by the first of the year. I still don’t have a title for it yet. My titles come from what I write. A phrase or word will grab my attention. So far, inspiration has not hit.
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Dead Men Walking follows Nate as he is fighting for his marriage and career while getting involved in a case involving a mysterious man, a bullet and a whole range of unanswered questions. How did you decide on the direction for this second book in the series?
Book One, The Tenth Nail, ended with several unresolved issues and questions. Book Two felt as if I was writing an additional chapter to the first book. Nate is a strong but flawed man. Just as his strength is a result of his efforts, his weaknesses are the totals of his flaws. He finds himself where he is forced to ask for help in order to survive in the world he has created from himself. Some of that sought for help has to come from people he has wronged. Mystery man and the killing involved Nate in a case that for all practical purposes was unsolvable. I felt the case assigned Nate had to be as complicated as the killing of the girl in book one. It had to be part of the stressors that pushed Nate to the brink.
Dead Men Walking begins with an intricately described murder scene. What was your inspiration for this crime and murder scene?
In truth, most crimes, especially murders, are not complicated. Most victims know their killers and in a high percentage of time are on a first name basis. Most of us really have to know a person well to hate them enough to kill them. I wanted the opening crime, the murder, to be as tough to figure out as I could make it. I hoped to detail a killing, done in broad daylight, in public view and witnessed, that yielded no easy to find clues and little evidence. I hoped to create a feeling in the reader that they, along with Nate, had to work to solve the killing. I hoped the reader would feel as if they walked along beside the big detective as he tried to solve the killing.
Between Nate dealing with his old demons, family problems, and exploring a mysterious case, we get to dig more into Nate’s character. Was there anything that surprised you about his character while you were writing all this?
Nate takes pride in being an uncomplicated man. He has always been resistant to self-examination and some of that, I think, is that he is afraid of what he’ll find if he was to risk looking beneath the superficial layer. Throughout writing the book, I felt Nate and I were in synch. There was really nothing he did that surprised me. The same cannot be said for Clare. Clare is more cerebral than her husband and she is more willing to work through mistakes than Nate. In truth, I thought she would make other choices than she did for most of the book. In fact, an original storyline was made up of different choices I expected from her. Clare, like Nate, faces challenges and is forced to make life altering decisions. She caught me off guard with some of hers.
Where does book three in the Nate & Clare series take Nate and when will it be available?
Currently, I am working on the second book of the Jack and Terri Series and as readers know, Jack and Nate become acquainted in The Tenth Nail. It is Nate’s effort to repay Jack that is a strong undercurrent of Dead Men Walking. Book three for Nate and Clare, “Dance With the Devils”, will force Nate and Jack into a closer working relationship and slightly uncomfortable friendship. The book is planned for publication in the winter of 2017.
There was no doubt the man was dead. A bullet through the head will do that. But, who was dead? The man had no identification, no known address, no Social Security information could be found, and the fingerprint search came up empty.
Detective Nate Burns, Albuquerque Police Department knew two things. The man was dead and he was blood type was O+. The most common type of blood in the country.
Dead Men Walking is a fast paced police drama that tells the story of Detective Nate Burns, a man haunted by his past. That haunting has suddenly appeared in the present.
His Captain wants him fired.
A friend is calling in a favor.
A convict wants to make a bargain
His wife is thinking of divorce.
It’s a good thing he’s serving a suspension. He’ll find time to work all this out.
Dead Men Walking is the follow up to the award winning first Nate and Clare novel, The Tenth Nail. The story continues with Nate being assigned to a most difficult case. At the same time, he is trying to salvage his marriage, and since his wife, Clare, has returned to college, he must make sure he is not late picking up his daughter from her summer reading class.
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In The Assassin’s Trail, we follow Sean Kruger as he is now hunting down an assassin. What surprised me most about this book is how accessible it is. Many books of this genre get bogged down in jargon. What was the direction you wanted to take this novel that may have been different from the first novel in the series?
First and foremost, I want the reader to enjoy the ride. My primary goal, as I complete more books in the series, is to NOT repeat the same story in each book. I want the same characters facing different challenges. I will not name names, but so many popular authors repeat the same premise in each book, locations change, minor characters change, but the overall story arc is the same. I am determined not to follow this path.
The first book in the series is a ‘get to know you’ story. We meet the main characters and why they are who they are. The second book develops the relationship of Kruger and JR Diminski. JR is an equal partner in Assassin’s, he is critical to the flow of this story and future books.
Kruger’s marriage to Stephanie, an event which happens outside the narrative, is a critical part of how he starts viewing his world. He no longer has only himself to worry about, he has her. I believe this helps the reader relate to the character. Most of us struggle to balance work-home life. Kruger is no different than the rest of us, the only difference is his work is just a little more intense.
Again we’re following FBI agent Sean Kruger. While he might complain about his job he is excellent at it and his reputation precedes him. What themes did you try to capture while developing his character?
A reluctant warrior. Kruger is portrayed as a man who sacrificed watching his son grow because of what he felt was a higher calling. Now in his early fifties, he finds the sacrifice he made was an illusion, benefiting no one but others. I am not sure the word disillusioned is correct, but it is the closest I can come. I think a lot of us look back on our careers and ask the question, “If only I had…?” Kruger is given a second chance to answer this question.
He knows what he does is important, he just does not know if it was worth what he sacrificed. The underlying story is a metamorphosis of a career oriented individual into a man who cherishes family above all else. Stephanie joins him in this change, also realizing what she sacrificed.
What were some books or authors that you felt severed as inspiration for you?
Several come to mind. Frederick Forsythe for instance. I don’t pretend to write as well as he does, but I like the way his books are character driven with intricate plots. John Sandford and Michael Connelly are two others. Sandford inspired the concept of an ongoing series with a consistent title and a common protagonist. His Prey series follows the career of Lucas Davenport over the course of, currently, twenty-seven novels. Like Davenport, Kruger is a loner and not above stretching the rules to make sure an investigation moves forward. I do not anticipate the Trail series lasting twenty-seven novels, but you never know.
Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch character influenced Kruger’s dogged determination and sense of duty. While the above authors helped influence the Kruger character, I have strived to make him human and subject to all the emotions we all feel.
A lot of authors use protagonists who are superhuman and can keep on going after being shot or have a broken limb. You won’t see this with Kruger. While he does get wounded, like in book two and three, it has an effect on him.
Where will book 3 in the Sean Kruger series take readers and when will it be available?
The third novel in the series is titled The Impostor’s Trail. It features the return of a serial killer first introduced in my short story, The Forgotten Brother Affair. This is the first time I have expanded a short story into a full-length novel. It was a lot of fun weaving the novel around the events of the original story. Part one of the novel is the short story, part two occurs six years later when the killer returns to the United States after fleeing the country. I won’t give away any more of the plot, but my beta reader indicated she felt it is the strongest of my three novels. The Impostor’s Trail will be released July 25, 2017, as an eBook and paperback. It will be produced as an Audible.com book sometime in the fall of 2017.
FBI SPECIAL AGENT SEAN KRUGER IS BACK! The brutal assassination of two men has Homicide Detective Ryan Clark fearing the worst. A serial killer is on the loose in the Washington, DC area. Without hesitation, he calls an old friend at the FBI. FBI profiler Special Agent Sean Kruger is hesitant to become involved with another long and tedious investigation. He is in the twilight of his career and tired of the travel, bureaucracy, and politics of his job. He and longtime girlfriend, Stephanie, decide to marry and do something different with their lives. He wants no part of Clark’s serial killer investigation. But when the assassin strikes close to home, it becomes personal. With the help of JR Diminski, the computer genius from The Fugitive’s Trail, he identifies a suspect. When the attempted arrest goes horribly wrong, Kruger is suspended for disobeying a direct order from the Director of the FBI. Now outside the protection of the agency, he must decide to either walk away after twenty-five years with the agency or put his new marriage and life in danger as he continues to pursue the assassin. An assassin whose ultimate goal is an attack in the center of the United States. An attack that could result in more civilian casualties than 9/11.
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A page turner from start to finish, Sins of the Father is a captivating adventure that kept me wonderfully entertained. Almost a decade ago, notorious drug kingpin Francisco Salazar was taken down by a crack unit. His empire fell, and for years remained in ruin. Now his son, Ramon, is grown and ready to take on his father’s mantle. This is where we join David and Samantha, a pair directly involved in the elimination of Salazar Sr., as they undergo a mission spanning several countries, with the task of bringing down Ramon and destroying the Salazar empire for good.
I appreciate a book that can capture my attention. With this book, Ken Cressman is able to do just that. The very first chapter brings you into the fray as you struggle through a home invasion, and from there the action ramps up. The world is filled with vibrant and unique characters, from the main duo: David Larkin and Samantha Colt, to the variety of interesting supports, I never once found myself wanting for more. My personal favourite was a DEA Agent named Scott Bowman, whose dry humour kept me smiling throughout even the darkest of scenes. There was a sense of real, tangible rapport between each of the characters that sucked me in, with realistic, intelligent dialogue. That being said, I would sometimes find that the characters never strayed too far from their stereotype. The cocky DEA agent, the classic Colombian kingpin, it could all feel a little too generic at times. Now, this isn’t necessarily a problem, (I mean, who doesn’t love slick detectives?), but straying away from the herd wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Each character was well developed, but it all seemed to happen behind the scenes instead of right in front of me. I was being told who a character was instead of being shown.
As an avid reader, I need something that can keep me entertained. That’s something that Cressman has complete success with. The story takes Larkin and Colt through a variety of settings, from the thriving city of Miami to the lush jungles of Colombia. Every time I found myself settling down, becoming too comfortable, there will be a sudden shift in dynamics and the scenery will take a drastic shift. Cressman’s attention to detail brings each location to life, and it felt like I was alongside these characters every step of the way, whether it be bundled in the trunk of a car, or sneaking through the halls of a cargo ship. The pacing of the plot is rhythmic, with perfectly timed twists and turns, culminating in a satisfying conclusion that will leave you eager for more.
Ken Cressman has crafted an intense adventure story that is consistently entertaining.
Pages: 151 | ASIN: B01G3UZKLY
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The Tenth Nail, written by Kwen Griffeth is a novel that revolves around a homicide detective Nate Burns and his new partner Manuel Trujillo as they work together to solve the murder of a beautiful young woman, Via. Via is a prostitute and one night she is approached by a handsome man who lures her into an alley where she ultimately meets her demise. To avenge her death and find her killer, Nate and Manny, the dynamic duo, find themselves caught in a case that will twist and turn through good and evil and eventually lead to a mystery that will rock the core foundations of every police officer.
Kwen Griffeth’s edgy crime novel, The Tenth Nail, will have your heart racing in anticipation to find out what happens next as you are thrown right into the action with a murder in the first pages. A mix of crime, a dash of seduction and air of mystery, The Tenth Nail will fulfill your whodunnit fix and leave you eager for more. From prostitutes to police officers and the sweet life on a quiet farm to the busy strips on Las Vegas, this novel will take you on a whirlwind adventure of murder, integrity and seduction.
The character development is by far one of my favorite aspects of this story. Nate Burns, a strong man in both nature and physique is an honest family man who is determined to solve the murder of street walker, Via. He resembles something of a Texas cowboy, who loves his horse Babe, his wife and two children and demands attention and respect when he enters a crime scene. As the story develops you learn about his intriguing past that haunts his nightmares of today and the reader will slowly find the skeletons in his closet are indications of a man far more complex than you first expect.
At times I was disappointed at the integrity of characters and readers will question their belief that policemen are heroes and instead begin to realize that they too are people with their own set of complex beliefs and emotions. It gives you a taste of what many in our police force deal with daily and how they learn to become desensitized to some of the horrors that most ordinary folk will never encounter. Some of the events will leave other characters maturing into heroes and other characters developing into something more sinister.
One of my favorite lines in the story is when Nate tells Manny that fashion is “part biology, mixed with a little psychology, and spiced with sociology” as we all crave a little attention, even if it is just walking across a room. The entire novel is filled with ideas that encourage you to ponder about our world and where our own set of beliefs come from.
This novel is by far one of the most gripping stories I have encountered and Kwen Griffeth’s has an incredible ability to create a story that is riveting, entertaining, creative and leaves the reader gasping for more answers until the shocking end. I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves a fast-paced thriller styled novel.
Pages: 382 | ASIN: B01JTU2AZ4
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The Deaduction Agency follows a team of psychics, telepaths and remote viewers who investigate several cases of disappearances, murders, and missing persons. This is a thrilling paranormal mystery novel. What was the initial spark for this book and how did that develop as you were writing?
I empathize with psychics, whose skills gained credibility as I read about them in series such as Psychic Detectives. The willingness of the police and detectives to appear in the shows, often after retirement from the force, speaks volumes for their appreciation of the skills of the psychics they employed. What also emerged was the need of the program makers to pad out the stories of psychic detectives with endless repeats of the facts. This is because the crimes are resolved in such a straightforward manner that it makes regular policing look tedious – which it is.
The first case, of a complex divorce, took longer to resolve because it did not require psychic abilities. I used it to contrast the differences in time to describe regular, traditional policing and those cases that require the skills of a psychic.
To my regret, some reviewers failed to understand why this approach was taken.
The book covers several different cases which range from quick and easy to edge-of-your-seat thriller. My favorite was ‘Case of the Prodigal Son’. What was your favorite case?
The same ‘Prodigal Son’, plus ‘The Honey Trap’, where Richard’s possessive and devious nature is revealed to the full.
The psychics at this agency have skills and near-future technology that give them powers beyond what psychics can do now. What were the limitations you needed to keep them believable and what was something that you absolutely had to have for them to be interesting?
I accept psychic skills as they exist now, and have no patience with skeptics who try to fool around with their sensory perceptions, to prove they are frauds and have no special skills. However, in the book they had to be fully capable of reading minds, in order to be foolproof in their assessment of criminals. Even so, some reviewers failed to understand this, and judged the psychic teams to be behaving unacceptably in passing sentence on some criminals. Why, if they can read minds and know the vile nature of the people they are categorizing? It is hardly as if they are executing them! The aim is to re-incorporate them into society, with their souls purified.
This story is ripe with paranormal activity, remote viewing and the powers of the mind. Which power and character do you identify with?
Telepathy, having experimented with it in front of others, as a young teenager. I identify with Richard and Chuck and Joe, in different ways.
A final, general observation on the review itself. The opening scene is criticized for its excess of descriptive detail, That is almost a verbatim criticism made by another reviewer, Marta Cheng in 2015, who stated: In some places, such as near the beginning of the book, there is an inordinate amount of detailed explanation provided as to the set up of the agency’s offices – details that detract from the momentum of the story. In response, I cut down the detail to a mere 360 words, which is hardly inordinate! It also became apparent that Marta (who got fond of changing her surname to put me off the scent) had not read the book in its entirety and was intent on having a dig at another reviewer from the same stable as herself.
To emphasize why it was done, I then suffixed the description with the following sentences:
Richard, the most senior partner in the agency, was busying himself constantly re-arranging brochures on a side table in the waiting area in reception. It was a quirky habit of his that Honey found most annoying. It also reflected his fussy preoccupation with orderliness and exact measurements.
Naturally, he was the architect of the office layout, which Honey was often tempted to rearrange, solely to unsettle him.
Love scenes soon followed as well! Some of this preoccupation is revisited later, as part of Honey’s tangled love life. What more can an author do?
Witness at first-hand a group of specialist investigators, as they set up and run a new, innovative crime fighting agency. They are dedicated to the resolution of criminal cases using paranormal assistance. This will be a new, innovative and emerging brand of policing designed to protect the citizens of our country.
Read how they deal with the anti-social, disturbed behavior of a wayward, divorced husband, who is on the verge of destroying the lives of his ex-wife and their two young sons.
Read how they identify the members of a murderous ring of pedophiles from relatively few clues, and bring them to justice.
Read how they move from ineffectively resolving one case at a time, and onto tackling multiple cases with far more beneficial results to society.
Read thereafter how they clear the penitentiaries of criminals, starting with the most dangerous inmates, using novel means to cleanse their souls of sin, and equip them for new roles in life in special clearing centers. The objective is to reintegrate them into society, rendered capable of performing straightforward tasks and genuinely purified, via the novel process of atonement.
Read how they find one talented young man who was lost, presumed dead, and reunite him with his family. Thereafter, as agents of change, they help launch him on the path to stardom.
This is not a simple, gory, two dimensional book, but an exploration into the timely use of mediums in crime detection. It can pay dividends in assisting the fight against crime.
They use the latest techniques and technology in a future world that is not far removed from that which exists today.
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Author Interview with Ian Patrick
Plain Dealing is a suspense novel about a group of cops in South Africa that are caught executing criminals and then must try to cover it up. This is the third book in the The Ryder Quartet series. What is the central theme that you have tried to carry through all four books?
The central theme I have pursued through the four books is about crime, justice and morality: at what point do the police (and many readers) eschew morality for the sake of retribution? What is the tipping point for officers of the law when the institutions of law and justice are unable to contain heinous crime?
The story takes place in South Africa. I enjoyed the detail of that backdrop, it seemed more exotic than most urban cities. What was the decision for that setting?
The decision for the setting of the four books in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa, is that many people consider this area to be the crime capital of the world (with the dubious distinction, in recent years, of having the highest murder rate for a country not at war).
Plain Dealing addresses the emotional and ethical choices that law enforcement officials handle on a daily basis. Were there any elements in the story that you pulled from real life, or was it all just fiction?
Although the books are fiction, almost every single crime depicted in the books has its counterpart in real life. Thorough research was undertaken, including tours to the front line of crime and discussions with forensics experts, detectives, and victims of crime. Almost every crime scene was personally visited by me in order to check on the veracity of the physical descriptions.
In the story, six cops execute some criminals and Detective Jeremy Ryder must try to stop them. What was your inspiration for Jeremy Ryders character and his approach to solving crimes?
My inspiration for the character of Jeremy Ryder was multifaceted. My father was a police detective. I have interviewed many detectives. And I have been influenced over many years by characters that I have enjoyed in literature. There is in Jeremy Ryder a little of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher character, a little of my father, a little of my wife, a little – I suppose – of myself. But he is in essence entirely a character of fiction. I took great care to ensure that he is not guilty of typical macho or even misogynist behavior. One way I have tried to do this is to depict his wife and other women in the stories as strong, perceptive, and original thinkers and women of action.
The Ryder Quartet is a collection of 4 books. Death Dealing being the last one out. Do you see a chance to continue the story in a different storyline or are you working on a completely new novel?
I am currently working on a fifth novel that is set in the same location. This one is based around one of the characters that we meet in the quartet, but it will not involve Ryder and his companions. I will, though, return to Ryder and his colleagues in a future work. He is now under my skin and I think of him daily.
After midnight on a moonlit beach six policemen led by a top detective execute four criminals who have perpetrated the most heinous rape, mutilation and murder of a young woman. The police are unaware that there is a witness to the executions. The action that follows is set against dubious tactical, ethical and sometimes criminal choices faced by the central characters. The reader is left with a stark image of moral ambiguity as the police struggle to maintain courageous and precarious control of the crime that engulfs them, and the work of ‘plain dealing’ cops comes under scrutiny.
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