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Rude Boy USA

3 StarsAuthor Victoria Bolton pays homage to the 1960s gangs of New York with her book Rude Boy USA. It’s the classic story of an underdog gang trying to take the seat of power in a world of murder, corruption, sex and drugs. The story follows the four members of Chimera; a gang led by the driven but big-hearted Bernie. John is his second in command; African American, good looking and unhappily married. Ben, the Italian American ex-veteran struggling with a drug addiction, is the little brother wanting desperately to be taken seriously. And Jerome, the well-adjusted African American with intelligence and a dream, is the son Bernie never has to worry about. Together they make up the misfit family of Chimera, flawed in their own ways and equally determined to make something of their lives.

These characters have numerous dimensions that create a clear picture with their narratives, but in contrast, the two female characters Bolton introduces, feel somewhat two-dimensional. On one side you have Edina who is a white, manipulative woman, both offensive and single-minded with her bigotry. And on the other side is Celia; a beautiful African American woman who is the angel to Edina’s devil, extremely attractive, with a heart of gold. Moreover, Celia’s motivations in the story stem from a desire to better educate herself, but are quickly reduced to a will they/won’t they love saga that overshadows her previous occupation. Though not an uncommon occurrence, the story would have only been meatier had the female characters received the same attention to detail as their male counterparts.

Character development aside, the story touches well upon racial tensions that would have been rife at the time. However, some situations err on the side of stereotype rather than exploring any deeper issues, but where it can, the story embraces some of the realities of the time and the author is able to keep the reader interested.

Nevertheless, this is indeed a crime thriller with a topic that has obviously been well researched by Bolton. She takes you deep into the heart of New York City and provides a picture of a community that the reader can see very clearly. Ultimately this feels like a story about loyalty and belonging to something. With an underlying romantic story threaded throughout, Rude Boy USA has something for everyone, with enough twists and turns to keep die hard thriller fans engaged and want to immediately pick up the next book in the series.

Pages: 283 | ISBN: B019E76CMY

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If The Bed Falls In: A Man in Two Minds; Are Either of Them His

If The Bed Falls In: A man in two minds; are either of them his? (Bedfellows thriller series Book 1)4 Stars

Tom Friday is a middle-aged photographer, and an ex-cocaine addict whose mind is playing tricks on him; he has begun to experience terrifying hallucinations. He tries to cope with these delusions while also trying to make sense of them, but Tom’s cocaine-hangover plummets him into a world riddled with murder, conspiracy, and espionage. However, his alter-ego, that he becomes in his hallucinations, believes he has come up with a solution to the dire problems of the world, and unlike Tom, is willing to take the risks necessary to put things right, but his mind is as addled as Tom’s, and his plan is always a little out of focus. Slowly, Tom, the photographer, begins to believe that his alter-ego (Joseph Miller, an MI6 agent) is reality, and that Tom is the hallucination, but how can he be sure what is real. He races against time to discover who he truly is, and what he must do to succeed and come out alive.

If The Bed Falls In by Paul Casselle is the first book in his Bedfellows thriller series. If The Bed Falls In is a chilling psychological thriller that attaches itself into your subconscious and refuses to leave. Paul Casselle is a story-teller who deftly weaves his tale into a thrill ride of a page turner. He creates multilevel characters that remain with the reader long after the book has been closed. His characters leap off the page and scream to be heard.

Casselle explores the realms of hallucinations and the idea of a person beginning to lose sight of reality, as well as the world of dirty government manipulation. The novel contains graphic scenes and strong language, but those elements add a realistic depth to the story. The atmosphere of the story would honestly be altered if those elements were withheld; the story would lose its intensity. Casselle perfected a realistic world that is unparalleled in other novels. The book starts out slow, but then as it progresses through background story it begins to pick up the pace. Casselle spends a good amount of time setting up the tone and atmosphere of the story through descriptions and dialogue. The descriptions are so vivid and detailed that the reader feels as if they are amidst the turmoil watching Tom struggle to find the fine line between reality and fantasy.

I would highly recommend this book, but keep in mind there are scenes with adult content some readers may find offensive. Anyone who enjoys a good psychological thriller would enjoy this book as well as anyone who likes a governmental conspiracy type of book; the magic is in the blending of the two genres. If The Bed Falls In: A Man in Two Minds; Are Either of Them His is a book that is difficult to put down.

Pages: 317 | ASIN: B019MONHMM

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Paradise City: The Mire Man Trilogy

Paradise City (The Mire Man Trilogy, #2)4 StarsParadise City by Dave Matthes is the second book in his Mire Man Trilogy. The story goes back twenty years to Arlo Smith’s teens, a time of many firsts for him. The story opens with Arlo and his best friend, James Landon, skulking through the woods in order to peep into a local stripper’s window, trying to see what any puberty-addled boy hopes to see. What they see and experience there is a first that changes them, their friendship and perhaps, their lives.

High school isn’t fun for everyone. Arlo and James’ freshman year pulls them apart, and while they remain friends, they meet new people, experience first love, infatuation, and learn the pleasure and pain of drinking and smoking weed. Arlo’s mother introduces him to a parade of boyfriends who drag him into a world of alcoholism, and abuse. Through it all, Arlo learns that he can write, his teachers think he’s good at it, but it isn’t enough to keep him from the lure of drinking and brawling.

If you’re going into this book expecting an uplifting coming-of-age story, you will be sadly disappointed. Paradise City is a dark, no-bull look into the brutal world that Arlo grew up in. His mother’s boyfriend uses him as a punching bag, his best buddy is a drug dealer, and he has nowhere to turn to except for the booze he steals from home or gets at parties every chance he gets.

Interludes from Arlo’s adult life are interspersed within the novel. He’s getting treatment at the Moriarty Institute, where he admitted himself for psychiatric care. This adds insight and ties Arlo’s past and present together. Whatever confession his doctor hopes to get out of him might be something from his past, or it could just be the ramblings of a man with mental illness.

The author really nails the emotions and reasoning of a teenaged boy. Arlo’s thoughts and decisions are spot-on for a teen. No one but his guidance counselor seems to care one way or another about his future. The counselor has good intentions and Arlo is infatuated with her; she speaks to him like he’s an adult, but she’s not that much older than he is. Their relationship skirts the line between propriety and danger more than once.

One of the problems I had with the book was placing it in a time period. I’m not sure if it’s inconsistency, or if it’s intentional. Music has a role in the story, and all of the songs and bands mentioned are from the late 1970’s. In one scene, there’s a reference to a flat-screen monitor for a computer playing music, but later, in the same office, the music is playing on a record player. The students at the school don’t mention cell phones or social media, yet Arlo has a cell phone. The pop culture references are from late twentieth century, yet the few mentions of technology feel like the twenty-first.

Though it’s second in a series, Paradise City holds up on its own. While you don’t need to have read the first book, if you start with this one, you’ll certainly want to go back to book one and catch up before the final installment of the trilogy.

Pages: 250 | ISBN: 1512223530

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