Enough to Make the Angels Weep by Ernesto Patino is the story of a private detective investigating a murder case that has been cold for four years. Detective Joe Coopersmith follows the trail which leads to several more dead bodies and a conspiracy over 150 years in the making.
A hidden diary recounts the little-known events of Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine, eager to make a new life in America. They joined the US Army for the promise of good pay and found themselves in a war with Mexico which pitted them against members of their own Catholic faith.
This book reads like an old gumshoe novel. I kept picturing Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade in the Maltese Falcon. I heartily enjoyed reading this riveting historical fiction novel. While the bulk of the story is fiction, there really was a St. Patrick’s Battalion made up of Irish soldiers who fought on the side of the Mexicans during the Mexican American War. This is a fascinating true story told in a very interesting way, which kept me turning the pages as I read with great interest to see how the author was going to tie these events to the murder Detective Coopersmith was investigating.
The author remains focused on the Irish soldiers, highlighting their contribution to history throughout the story. This is certainly a fascinating piece of history that I didn’t know about and appreciated learning about. I felt that the mystery driving the story forward could have used a stronger motive to explain the murders, but it serves as a decent vehicle to deliver an intriguing murder mystery in a historical setting.
Enough to Make the Angels Weep is a captivating war fiction novel with fantastic historical elements that color the entire novel. This enthralling murder mystery is filled with compelling characters that will entertain any fans of crime fiction or historical fiction novels grounded in reality.
Pages: 218 | ASIN: B09FJ4Q136
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It’s 1979, and Ken has returned to Liberia. It’s been ten years since his last adventure in Africa, and now he’s on a mission to obtain uncut diamonds to support his air carrier business. Immediately, Ken and his wife, Sam, are hit with a tidal wave of sweaty bodies and riotous citizens storming the Executive Mansion, home of Liberia’s suppressor, President Tolbert. Liberian natives continue to grow restless with the oppression from the Congo people, and the breaking point is near.
All the while, behind the scenes, the American government is adding fuel to the fire. Two CIA agents infiltrate the Progressive Alliance of Liberia and offer them what they’ve been desperately trying to get their hands on – guns.
A storm brews and tensions rise as Sam and Ken try to get out of Liberia as fast as they can.
In Blood Before Dawn, Daniel V. Meier, Jr. brings to life a story of innocent bystanders caught up in the terror of espionage and revolution. Based on true events, readers will be captivated by this sequel to the award-winning: The Dungun Beetles of Liberia.
Meier is a powerful writer and will immediately capture your attention on page 1. As a reader, I personally am afraid of the writer that loves to describe everything from the shingles on the roof, down to the pebble in their protagonist’s shoe. Meier, however, has created a beautiful balance between thrilling dialogue and painting his audience a detailed picture of Liberia’s dark underbelly; the turmoil, the struggles and the blood bath that grows with each chapter.
Readers may find the Liberian accent difficult to understand, but some readers may love the broken-down English that makes up the accent or they will hate having to work out every conversation. Though, I believe because Meier uses very little accent, it makes for authentic and interesting dialogue.
While I enjoyed the relentless pace of the novel, there were some things I didn’t quite understand. For example, I felt that there was an odd interaction with the CIA agents and their handler, but maybe it’s an inside joke that we, as the readers, are not supposed to understand. Essentially, the conversation goes like this: We’ll dangle a carrot in front of him, and in the off-chance, he doesn’t bite (queue agent leaning in for a theatrical, conspiratorial whisper), we have more carrots. The agents have a good chuckle and I couldn’t help but laugh along.
This is a thrilling story and was fun to read. I felt like the ending was a bit hollow but I think that this was the point. The point, in the end, was to portray the protagonist as numb. There is so much in this novel to think about and it really leaves you feeling like you had a fully engaging experience by the end. I was invested in the story and I enjoyed the adventure.
Pages: 250 | ASIN: B08SJ95ZC9
Posted in Book Reviews
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The Lodgers by Annette Creswell is a historical fiction story set in the early 1950’s. Therese O’Brien, a young girl from Dublin Ireland, finds herself pregnant and unwed and she is sent to Brighton England to hide her shame. While her mother tells everyone the story that Therese has gone to London to work in a fancy hotel, in fact she is supposed to stay at a convent until the baby’s birth and then give up her child and return home as though nothing had happened. But Therese wants to make up her own mind about what to do and she takes a room in Mabel Dawson’s lodging house rather than following through on her mother’s plan. Hiding the truth from her family, she struggles to figure out what decision she can live with. Will any of the other lodgers be able to help her determine the right choice?
The residents of the lodging house were an interesting cast of characters, which included Irene, a recovering alcoholic, Irene’s sister Judy, who had not spoken since she suffered a traumatic event and was committed to a mental asylum, Arthur, an old retired army major, Mabel, the landlady who was a former vaudevillian, and a parrot who revealed the true identity of a killer. I liked learning about the various characters’ pasts and the insights that were given in to their thoughts and feelings.
One of my favorite parts of the story was the way that Irene befriended Therese and helped her, and I enjoyed seeing the bond developing between the two women. I also liked seeing what happened to the lodgers after they left the boarding house one by one and moved on with their lives. The author did not leave any unanswered questions at the end of the book, and I enjoyed reading how things turned out for Therese and Irene, who had both suffered through strife in their past.
While I heartily enjoyed this thought-provoking novel, I thought that there were areas with no transitions between scenes, which made these sections of the story feel like there were pieces missing. In contrast, there were areas where there was a repetition of information, with details that had already been revealed through internal dialogue and then repeated again in conversations with other characters. I think the flow of the story would have benefited from the events being retold in a more linear timeline.
The Lodgers is an emotionally resonant novel that follows some intriguing characters. This is a story that will appeal to fans of historical fiction that enjoy a character driven story with a satisfying ending.
Pages: 210 | ASIN: B092MVKKRT
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Ain’t Nothin’ Personal follows a suspended police chief who is pulled into an old unsolved case that turns into a murder investigation with ties to powerful people. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
In a somewhat oblique way, the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre inspired this one. I grew up in Oklahoma in the 1970s, a time when explicit racism in the south (and I consider Oklahoma part of the deep south) was a way of life. I was in my 40s before I ever heard of the Tulsa massacre. Can you imagine something like that being covered up for so long? The coverup in Ain’t Nothin’ Personal is similar. The only African-American family in town has their house burned down. They disappear and people think they just moved away. No one talks about if for years, until an old racist makes a death bed confession and everyone realizes the truth is more sinister.
Emmett Hardy is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character’s development?
Emmett’s a mixture of crime fiction/film archetypes: the plain-spoken dispenser of frontier justice in the tradition of Will Kane in High Noon or the title character in Shane; the enigmatic, emotionally tortured detective in Phillip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels; the socially conscious righter of wrongs that you find on Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowell’s Beck mysteries. I should also mention Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn in Tony and Anne Hillerman’s books, Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire, as well as all the classic hard drinkers in noir literature, from Sam Spade to Phillip Marlowe to the twisted misfits found in every Jim Thompson story. What they all have in common (with the exception of Thompson’s creations), is their drive to do what they think is the right thing, regardless of the consequences to themselves.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Do the right thing. Love each other, love yourself. Greed is not good. Power corrupts. Be kind; we’re all in this together.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next one is the fourth Emmett Hardy mystery, Junker Blues. It’s in the hands of my beta readers as we speak. It fast-forwards from where Ain’t Nothin’ Personal ends in the late ‘60s to the day Richard Nixon resigns the presidency in 1974. The OPEC oil embargo has rejuvenated the oil industry. Emmett’s Burr, Oklahoma is now a boom town. With the boom come ingredients for the inevitable bust, however—not least, an illegal drug problem and attendant violence the small rural community is ill-equipped to deal with. It’s scheduled to be released in June 2022 by Black Rose Writing.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: Ain't Nothin' Personal, author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Chris Kelsey, crime fiction, ebook, fiction, goodreads, historical fiction, historical thriller, kindle, kobo, literature, murder mystery, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
Fresh-baked muffins fragrant with ripe blueberries . . . cinnamon-scented turnovers that transform any meal into a feast. . . . In 1914 Ohio, the Amish Charm Bakery holds a special place within its close-knit, faith-filled community, where love finds a way through God’s grace . . .
As the daughter of a wealthy rancher, Magdelena Beachy may not truly need her job at the Amish Charm Bakery, but she enjoys tending to customers, be they neighbors or curious Englischers. Only one thing would make life sweeter, and that’s if Toby Schlabach would court her. It’s not just his dimples and smile that warm Magdelena’s heart—she admires his kindness and values. Yet she worries their chance may slip away . . .
With his daed ill and his mother and sister depending on him, Toby can’t yet offer Magdelena the future she deserves. But even as he nears his goal, he learns her father has arranged a match with another suitor. Magdelena risks shunning if she goes against her family. Choosing a path will take courage as well as faith—in God’s plan, and in this steadfast, tender love . . .
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Becoming a Woman of Substance, the sequel to Beguiled, finds Miriam Levine Butler at age 38, having had an epiphany. No longer could she mourn her lost years, dutifully taking care of her handicapped daughter Alice. No longer would she bear the dismissive attitude of her once adoring husband, Noel. No longer would she resort to unhealthy means of numbing herself. The Great Depression rages on and on in 1938. Her beloved son Aaron is in California trying to be a screenwriter. Her immigrant mother, who now owns a grocery store, advises her daughter to “get out and do something. Do you want to end up like I did when you were a child? A nothing?”
Miriam heeds Ma’s warning. She ventures out of her purgatory, goes back to her old haunt, Romany Marie’s café, where she hears about the Federal Theatre Project and its daunting director, Hallie Flanagan. This launches her new life as she returns to her early love of theater, but this time as a field investigator of drought victims in the growing fields of California.
This still beautiful and intelligent woman prospers on all fronts: finding engaging new work, friends, and a lover. Her early inclination to be self-absorbed, her desire to be a stage star all dissolve as she finds fulfillment in helping others, in expanding the circle of people she welcomes into her life. The backdrop of the Depression, WWII, and the Holocaust challenge Miriam’s equanimity, but she finds new strength within herself. Follow Miriam’s journey to becoming a woman of substance as she confronts her fears and self-doubt, untrustworthy people, racial prejudice, and losses of loved ones.
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Under the Grapevine is the second book in your riveting family saga, The Women of Campbell County. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that were different from book one?
I wanted the reader to know that love is powerful and can overcome deceit and hatred. Despite having a wretched mother, the Bailey children develop into adults, minimally scathed, due to the nurturing of Tabs’ love.
What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
My biggest challenge writing Under the Grapevine was the transition from Olive to Harriett as the main character. It’s difficult for Olive’s impudence to play second chair.
What were some obstacles in the story that you felt were important to defining your characters?
Life during the first half of the last century is often depicted as a simpler lifestyle. I wanted to remind my readers that living through the Great Depression and WWII was complicated and stressful, resulting in self-sacrifice on multiple levels.
What can readers expect in the next book in The Women of Campbell County series?
The next book in The Women of Campbell County series revolves around Harriett coming into her own, garnering the education her mother coveted, and succeeding as a corporate woman. In contrast, it also follows her husband Eddy’s journey after being drafted into the Army. Unlike the first two books which cover several decades, Hill House Divided, takes place over three years, 1950 to 1953.
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Friendship’s Gallop follows two boys who’s friendship is tested when the Cavalry attempts to purge the Indian boy’s tribe from the frontier. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
The inspiration for the setup was largely the historical conflict between Indians and non-Indians in America, especially back in the 1800s, such as the battles of Wounded Knee and the Little Bighorn, forced assimilation of Indians in Christian missionary schools, and so on. (Aside from such unfortunate conflict, there’s been instances of cooperation, such as the Navajo code talkers of World War 2, and the contributions of Indian performing and fine artists to American culture up to the present.)
Another inspiration was my experience living in South Dakota for a couple of years, where I befriended Indians from the Sioux tribes out there. Considering the potential to look beyond one’s own race or culture, despite the differences with someone else’s, there nevertheless exists a cultural universal—friendship. And a basis for this is that we’re all ultimately of one race—the human race.
The setup was initially written to be more benign, where David would first meet up with Painting Horse and Red Owl under friendly terms. Yet revising the setup to be more dramatic, involving a physical confrontation based on a misunderstanding, provided more of a basis or contrast from which to develop the story further.
Your characters are interesting and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
A precursor to driving ideals behind the development of David’s or Painting Horse’s character was the innocence of youth: David and Painting Horse first met when they were in their early teens, when they were still somewhat in their formative years, and not so entrenched in adult ways—good or bad–of their respective cultures. This allowed for some flexibility in developing a friendship at that age despite coming from different cultures.
Beyond that, some of the driving ideals behind each character’s development, especially while they were in their teens, were that David and Painting Horse would likely still be trying to have fun as kids or young adults, while also trying to survive the more primitive life back then out on the American frontier. Painting Horse and David were essentially two main protagonists in the story, versus a customary tendency to have just one main one. It allowed for more intricacy in the story. While their friendship was a way to show commonality, their differing cultures was a way to show contrast. To give more nuance, Painting Horse was intended to be somewhat more stoic than David, given he contended with greater challenges later in the story.
The element of music entered into the story as a common way for the characters to communicate and bond, by performing their instruments together (music—“the universal language”).
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Some of the important themes that I wanted to explore in the book was of course friendship, in addition to courage, culture, and history. I wanted to explore the potential to maintain a friendship even under life-threatening conditions that can potentially pit two friends against each other. That’s where courage and culture comes in: How much courage it takes to overcome the risks of being stigmatized or more if one goes counter-culture to sustain a friendship if it’s really important to do so. And it becomes more of a test as David and Painting Horse meet up years later as adults, when they become more entrenched in their ways relative to their own cultures. And going back in history makes the story more interesting in an exotic yet still down to earth way: Back then it wasn’t the majesty of driving a new SUV, but rather riding a capable horse, which of course was a historical fact of everyday life back in the late 1800s. The story is loosely based on historical fact, so it also can be sort of a lesson in American history.
Ultimately, while the book invokes history involving Indians and non-Indians in the American West in the late 1800s, hopefully a reader can appreciate the themes such that they can also apply to the more recent past or even today.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I don’t have a next book in the works at the moment, as far as fiction. It’s conceivable that Friendship’s Gallop could be expanded beyond a short story to something approaching a full-length novel; it depends in part on the level of reader interest in an expanded version.
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