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The Sting

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The Sting by Steve Powell is a complete genre mash-up. Stick Superman, Batman, James Bond, and an old-timey noir detective into a blender, and you’ll get The Sting’s protagonist, Dean.

Dean is the hero of The Sting, but throughout the book, we never find out too much about him. All we know is he’s a metahuman (he has powers), has a shady past, and is basically brilliant at anything he tries. Martial arts prowess? Check. Super strength? Check. Super Intelligence? Check. Puts James Bond to shame when it comes to the ladies? Check.

Everyone wants a piece of Dean. The good guys and the bad guys want to hire him. If they can’t hire him, they either wish him in a body bag or locked up in a lab to be experimented on. The Sting follows Dean as he pinballs from one adventure to another, constantly being pulled in different directions and never entirely sure who he can trust.

The Sting is an excellent pulpy holiday read. It’s a book about a cool guy doing extraordinary things. Dean is the kind of person, so many men daydream about being. But it would do the book a disservice to say that it’s all pulp with no depth.

Dean is an immensely likable character, and despite his brilliant nature, he is still relatable. This is because the only person who seems unsure what Dean should be is himself. Dean is no superhero. He’s just a gun for hire. At the beginning of the book, Dean seems a little lost and lonely. In some ways, the book is a journey of self-discovery for Dean, and it is only at the end of the book he decides who he wants to be.

Powell focuses on constantly pushing the story forward. The book moves at a breakneck pace and rarely slows to take a breath. Dean is essentially an enigma, and Powell doesn’t spend much time explaining things. While this is mainly for the book’s benefit, I wish Powell would slow down sometimes to add more explanation and description. The story moves so quickly that a momentary lapse in concentration in reading can leave you lost.

Powell leaves a lot of questions unanswered and a lot of elements unexplained. I expect this to keep us hooked and ready for the next book in the series. The Sting is a great easy read for a holiday or day off. I can’t wait to see what happens to Dean next.

Pages: 192 | ISBN: 9781737738299

Sultry

Papa Grand was involved in a scandalous affair with the beautiful woman “Sultry Glade.” It wasn’t the best-kept secret, most knew. What people didn’t know then, however, was how gravely it would come back to bite him. On August 7th, early morning, Gideon “Giddy” Fitzgerald was found murdered inside his vehicle. Unfortunately, their murderer was never caught. Years later, his granddaughter Dillyn Fitzgerald, a chief financial investment officer with a passion for investigating, would dive deep into the tangled web of mysteries and lies to finally catch his killer. With the help of her family and visions of “Sultry,” she begins to unravel the hidden secrets that were buried. But will she be able to solve his murder, or will it come back to haunt her forever?

Sultry, by Dr. Sandra Tanner, is a murder mystery tale filled with plot twists and delectable secrets that will have your mind racing. You are left at the edge of your seat from the turn of the first page to the end of the book because you desperately need to know the answers to your questions.

The reader follows Dillyn Fitzgerald as she sets out to investigate her grandfather’s scandal and find the killer. Dillyn’s character is one that I grew fond of because she is headstrong, loyal, and relatable, and I enjoyed following her along with her investigation. Dr. Tanner’s character development is one to applaud, and it’s hard not to like all the characters. The addition of paranormal activities sprinkled throughout the story was also a pleasant surprise, adding drama to the plot. The plot twist at the end was shocking but a nice surprise despite the ending feels rushed.

Sultry by Dr. Sandra Tanner is an intriguing murder mystery with interesting characters and many plot twists. This compelling book is a fast and exciting read, and I found myself unable to put it down.

Pages: 290 | ASIN : B09RN7Y9LK

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Shacklady

Shacklady by Keller Yeats is a mysterious tale set in Wales. It follows Alan, a man who has purchased an old building and some land. During his renovation, he discovers that his purchase has more to offer when his friend Gerry finds an old mine that was once owned by Silas Shacklady, who became rich from mining the cliffs many years ago but abandoned the project. Alan has his old friend and business partner Nick and his wife Wendy come to explore the mine further. They soon learn that this mine contains many secrets lurking in the dark.

The suspense and intrigue in this novel is created right from the beginning. The author starts by plunging readers straight into the mystery surrounding the mine. This is done through subtle suggestions at first, such as, why there are no tracks to get the train out of the mine shaft. Then the reader is left wondering what happened to Gerry. As the reader is given the information about Gerry’s return to the mine where the characters are not, this adds yet another layer of intrigue. I reveled in this deliberate buildup of the story as I felt it was laying the groundwork for a compelling, and at times eerie, supernatural thriller.

I had initially imagined that delving into a mine would not yield much in the way of fantastic imagery, so I was content with a claustrophobic story, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the author is able to create vivid imagery that blew away all my expectations. For example, by using phrases like ‘swallowed swiftly by the blackness’ and ‘the thicker the air became and the hotter it felt’ the author utilizes all of the senses while taking readers into the depths of the mine. This allowed me to perfectly visualize what was happening and imagine what the characters must be feeling.

Shacklady is a dark and suspenseful supernatural horror story with an intriguing backstory that gives this book surprising depth. With a captivating cast of characters, a compelling mystery at its core, and sharp writing this is a tense scary story that I highly recommend.

Pages: 346 | ASIN : B09XRG2YKN

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Kick Ball Slay

Evann Myrick is an aging, widowed detective with a special gift for solving crimes. When he begins to investigate a string of murders that has been plaguing the world of West Coast swing dancing, he finds himself thrown into a hostile environment full of treachery, deceit, and murder. Myrick finds himself locked in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a vicious killer that is closer than he thinks. As the body count rises and his investigation deepens, the killer’s attention turns to Myrick. With no witnesses, a long list of suspects and a world totally unknown to him, he must rely on all his skills as a detective to stop this murderer–before they stop him.

Kick Ball Slay, by Doug Dorsey, is a riveting murder mystery, set in the competitive world of West Coast swing Dancing. The story focuses on Evann Myrick, a brilliant detective that is tasked with solving these murders. Dorsey does a wonderful job of keeping readers in suspense and making it hard for us to guess the identity of the killer.

I enjoyed following Evann throughout the investigation as readers will be trying to put the pieces together with him. I am a fan of Dorsey’s style of writing. His language is descriptive and engaging. The author’s characters are well-developed and diverse, adding to the world of swing dancing. Dorsey has also done a great job of making all of the characters in the book seem like suspects, making it hard for the reader to pinpoint one person.

Kick Ball Slay is a fascinating whodunit crime thriller with a unique setting and a compelling cast of characters. With a compelling mystery at its core readers will be wrapped up in solving this spellbinding case.

Pages: 329 | ASIN: ‎ B09W921HLJ

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Ruby Roy and The Murder in the Falls

Ruby Roy and the Murder in the Falls follows Dr. Ruby Roy through her first real-life murder mystery. Ruby is a twenty-nine-year-old college professor at Baron University. She’s absent-minded, has an overactive imagination, and is a lover of mystery. As a junior professor, she wants to make sure she doesn’t rock the boat so she can make tenure, but when she finds her Chair dead, she fears for her life.

Author Rima Ray has given readers a female sleuth that they are sure to fall in love with. She’s sharp, quirky, absent-minded, and has an imagination that gets away from her. Ruby is the type of protagonist you root for and believe in, even when she is afraid of nearly everything. All of this makes her feel a little less heroic but she is so much more authentic and relatable because of it. She is someone you can imagine exists in real life, rather than someone who is larger than life. She doesn’t want to rock the boat so it takes her a while to start investigating the mystery, but whether delving into the mystery or living her life she is a character that is oh so charming and fun to follow.

The story moves quickly, as the author knows how to balance exposition and action, giving readers the right amount information in the beginning of the novel to keep us engaged and get to know Ruby before we begin our descent into the depths of this intriguing cozy-mystery.

I enjoyed how well developed the characters in the story were, especially the organic way they are introduced. Reading about Ruby’s character was so fascinating to me as she is so different from the usual protagonists we find in murder mystery stories. I love her quirkiness! I felt like I was a friend of Ruby’s alongside her on this scary but fascinating experience.

Rima Ray has created a memorable character that readers will love to follow as they descend into the depths of this puzzling mystery. I highly recommend this book to readers looking for a light and refreshing book that will make you smile while reading it.

Pages: 244 | ASIN: B09YCPX979

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The Magical Tarot Deck

The Magical Tarot Deck by Marieke Lexmond is a fascinating fantasy novel that transports the reader into a magical world filled with fairies, tarot cards, and witches. Book 2 of the Madigan Chronicles follows the Madigans once more as we pick up where book one left off.

This time the Madigans learn that Seamus, Tara’s husband created magical tarot cards to hide the Dagger in. Within these magical tarot cards made up of each member in the family and if anyone uses the card, you will get pulled from real life until they fulfill the question of the person who pulled the card. The cards are stolen by a mysterious man and now the Madigans, fearful that the stranger may be using the cards against them set out to find who stole the Tarot Cards. Can they find out who took the deck before it’s too late and each family member starts to disappear one by one?

Author Lexmond has done it again with her creative writing skills and free-flowing imagination she immerses the reader into the family drama with a dash of magic. The author seamlessly provides a brief recap of book one and then moves into the plot of book two without disorienting the reader. This shows the author’s expert craft at showing rather than telling. The characters that you either love or hate in book one are back in book two along with their emotions and personalities. It was great to see Bridget maturing and being the voice of reason for her family and seeing her come to terms with her witch side. The pace of the story is a smooth one as the reader gets a recap of what the family has gone through, what they are going through now up to their current issue which is the tarot deck disappearing.

I highly recommend The Magical Tarot Deck to those who are looking for a refreshing magical read that will transport them into a different world filled with fantasy and mystery.

Pages: 286 | ASIN : B096G6B5SD

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Sometimes Truth and Justice Can Seem Irrelevant

Brian O’Hare Author Interview

The Dark Web Murders follows a detective who is chasing down a serial killer that thinks he is performing social justice on those above the law. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Rather strangely, the man who cleans my car said one day, “Why don’t you write a book about a killer who writes about his murders?” I was immediately drawn to the idea and spent a time pondering the type of killer who would do this. I figured he’d have to be a narcissistic psychopath. It was an easy step from there to writing the book.

Did you create an outline for the characters in the story before you started writing or did the character’s personalities grow organically as you were writing?

This is the fourth book in a series, so the key characters have all been around for a while. I have been living a long time and have always been a keen observer of people and their idiosyncrasies. When I need a new character, he or she pops into my head, already fully developed with their own general personality. For some reason I immediately know them intimately. I don’t know why. It has always been like that for me since I started writing fiction.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I have often been struck by the extent to which trial outcomes can depend on the skills of barristers. Sometimes truth and justice can seem irrelevant. Insane as my killer is, I allowed him to play around with that theme in his blogs.

I have also been constantly conscious of the arrogance of people with money and power, how they can be impervious to the needs of others, and indeed, how corrosive to the spirit power can be. The ‘Club’ allowed me to explore that theme as well.

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

The next book in The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries series is called The Trafficking Murders. It has recently been published and is currently available from Amazon and other outlets.

I AM NEMEIN. I AM EMOTIONALLY DETACHED FROM MY KILLINGS. I AM NOT, THEREFORE, A MURDERER. I AM AN INSTRUMENT OF NEMESIS, A PUNISHER.


This is a theme running through a number of blogs on the Dark Web, written by a serial killer. He is highly intelligent and employs philosophical argument to justify a series of gruesome murders.  However, he describes the killings in lurid detail, and with such gloating relish, that he utterly negates his delusion of detachment and reveals himself to be a cold-blooded, narcissistic psychopath.

Sheehan and his team rush headlong down a series of blind alleys in the pursuit of the psychopath, who continues to murder his victims with impunity. He is fiendishly clever, utterly ruthless, and tests Sheehan’s famed intuition to the limit.  Indeed, Sheehan only learns the truth during a horrific climax when some members of his team experience a most harrowing ‘laceration of the soul’ that they will never be able to forget. It is unlikely that the reader will either.

The Dark Web Murders

As Judge Neeson holds a party with well-established millionaires, other judges, and famous revelers, his judge’s judicial assistant is said to have been tasked with meeting someone claiming to carry incriminating files on him. The following day the assistant finds the judge’s house vacant with only Neeson’s dead body left on the floor. Head bashed in and body assaulted beyond belief, Detective Chief Inspector Sheehan is put to the task of solving the murder of Judge Neeson.

Over the following weeks, Sheehan discovers that they are dealing with a provenly deranged serial killer as more bodies are uncovered. And as fate would have it, each murder is documented and justified by the killer on a blog posted to the Dark Web called “Niemen,” which launched the same day Judge Neeson was discovered. Each post proceeds with decoding the meaning of old philosophies surrounding vigilante work and justice of the people and the fate of the victim the author decided to unleash these philosophies on.

Author Brian O’Hare’s gripping book The Dark Web Murders is filled with impressive realism and has been well researched. Rarely seen these days in a lot of fictional crime, the attention to detail truly makes this enthralling book stand out against the crowd. Using a slow-burn approach, the author introduces small details about the setting and crime scenes to the reader. This attention to detail continues throughout, creating a complex plotline. In the style of a hard-boiled mystery, O’Hare gives extensive and often gruesome details to his murder scenes. This reminded me of Dan Brown’s works, which would leave readers with no doubt about the suffering the victims endured.

One characteristic that makes this unique novel stand out is the character development. Each character is distinct and memorable. The side characters are lovable and realistic, giving readers someone to relate to as they progress through some of the darker moments. The crimes have a poetic justice feel to them with the killer’s use of philosophical ideas that presents a calculated series of killings.

The Dark Web Murders is a riveting crime thriller that will have readers on edge till the end. The mystery behind the murders is engrossing as clues will lead readers down false trails and keep them guessing until the reveal.

Pages: 322 | ASIN : B07NYH1FK4

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