The Testimony of a Villain by Aaron Harrell is a dark, slick ride into the gritty alleys of the inner city. The book is not your typical crime thriller but one with a social lens that can only be given substance by one who has lived it. The reader follows Manuel Doggett, a boy who lost everything to be formed by the streets and remade in its’ dark image. He is out for retribution not redemption when an opportunity arises to have his vengeance on one of the murderers of his family.
Harrell provides a fresh and new take to the “true crime” thriller. His style is so firmly set in the bitingly grime reality of the inner city that the reader could even give this novel a new sub-genre of socio-economic thriller. The new threads do not stop there either, because the plot of the book itself is almost like a hero’s journey in reverse. Manuel is the classic anti-hero and one that does not once look to the audience for sympathy. Instead, there is only apathy towards almost everything, except towards the memories of his past.
The weaving of the inner city struggle and the complex inner life of Manuel makes this novel a stand out for readers of not only crime thrillers, but also those who wish to delve into the dark, broken mind of a man walking the line between light and shadow. The writing is fraught with graphic images of both violence and sex and is not for the weak-hearted.
I found myself enjoying the book from the start, because of the quick and realistic dialogue and the meta conversation about corruption, justice and social strata. There are a lot of binaries at play here, between the poor and wealthy, justice and injustice, and morality and immorality. Harrell does a fantastic job with surveying these issues, touching on them just enough without becoming too explicit. I can only guess at what Harrell’s personal experience has been with the inner city, but I very much appreciated the taste of authenticity that he lends to the narrative.
I find Manuel to be a compelling character. Most readers may find something akin to the backstory of Batman here, but there is a real human struggle that Harrell puts on display often.
Overall, I do believe that The Testimony of a Villain stands up to the best the crime thriller genre has to offer. It makes for a pleasurable read for any fans of such novels!
Pages; 489 | ASIN: B06XG6FYVH
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A Small Bronze Gift Called Mirror follows Lydia who is a sixteen-year-old girl living at a boarding school when the headmaster of the school forces Lydia to compete in a mirror contest. What was the inspiration for this very imaginative story?
A quote from Plato’s Apology of Sokrates served as my inspiration for my story:
“something divine and spiritual comes to me, (…) I have had this from my childhood; it is a sort of voice that comes to me, and when it comes it always holds me back from what I am thinking of doing, but never urges me forward.” – Plato’s Apology of Sokrates- 31d. What if we could not only hear this divine and spiritual voice, but also give it a face? Would we be satisfied with the image? Would it be what we imagined it to be or would it be what others expect it to be?
Lydia is a strong-willed, independent teen who takes matters into her own hands. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
Like most characters of the story, Lydia has many challenges to overcome and a difficult task to carry. She faces a lot of issues that people today struggle with. That require many morals and values like self-respect, compassion, altruism and justice. Lydia is a strong-willed young girl, who changes and develops these values as she grows up.
The story has a wonderfully unique take on magic mirrors that’s different from the fairy tale version. How did this idea come to you and how did you develop it into a story?
From the beginning I wanted somebody for Lydia to talk to, because it’s not easy for a child to be left grow up alone. This resulted in the creation of Phoebus, who could prove to be a true friend or an enemy. I tried to show how difficult it is for us today to protect ourselves from bad influences. That’s why the reflections in the mirrors are often shaped by how we perceive ourselves through the manipulation of the others.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
Currently I’m writing another mystery novel about two very different people, which have nothing in common until they bump on each other. It will be available as soon as the English translation is finished.
“A small bronze gift called “Mirror” follows the story of Lydia, who is forced to go on the run at the age of 6 when her mother is murdered. Protected by her grandmother, Lydia’s life is shrouded in mystery, compounded by the small bronze gift she was given and which she calls ‘mirror’.
At the age of 12, Lydia is left in the care of Mrs. M, and is given a place at a school filled with unusual characters. When she arrives there Lydia discovers that all the children have the same ‘mirror’ as she does. But it’s when she starts to learn how to use it that the real story unfolds and she must undertake a remarkable journey.”
Posted in Interviews
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Pretty Hate Machine is a high paced action novel that begins with a suicide mission of a nine year old girl. What was the inspiration for the thrilling beginning of this novel and how did that help create the ending?
Pretty Hate Machine is a reboot of my first published novel in a series called The Executioner, published by Gold Eagle Books. It was #262 in the series and was called Trigger Point. You can see it on Amazon or go to my blog at bluefalconpress.com and read the post I wrote about this very subject. Gold Eagle didn’t allow me to fully explore the X-Files nature of this story line so now 17 plus years later, I’m resurrecting this conspiracy to tell it the way it should have been told from the beginning. Interesting trivia: I turned in that first Executioner manuscript to Gold Eagle around the 1st of the year in 1999. On April 20th, Columbine took place. My editor called me dumbfounded: “What is going on down there? THIS IS JUST LIKE YOUR BOOK.”
As to the ending, it seemed only fair to dish out everything the bad guys were serving up in the beginning by using their little mind controlled killers against them.
There are so many different vibrant and colorful characters in this story from FBI agents to alligator farmers to prostitutes. What was the funnest character to write for?
Well, as to the funnest character to write — Mallory Hammond, hands down. She started off with this tag line description in my planning notes: “She’s Fox Mulder in Scully’s body.” Well, as you’ve seen — she’s MUCH MUCH more now than just Fox Mulder in Scully’s body. And she’s not chasing UFOs. She’s chasing Cthulhu while undertaking the path of the Adept in the Western Esoteric Tradition, following in the footsteps of the Golden Dawn and Aleister Crowley. She might become the lead in a series of her own.
I found myself thinking of this novel as a Guy Ritchie movie or maybe Quentin Tarantino. Who were some creative people that inspired this novel and you as a writer?
Hunter S. Thompson. He is Artemis T. Gordon. I consider Thompson to be the greatest American writer of the 20th Century. It’s time to immortalize him as a hero in a slam-bang pulp action epic with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book? Well, that would be #2 in the series. It’s called Splatterpunk. The first chapter of this novel is included as a teaser at the end of Pretty Hate Machine. It will be available in the Summer of 17. Buckle up, Bones. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. And, again, this one is a reboot of the second (I wrote 4 total) Executioner novel I wrote that was published as Executioner #264 Iron Fist.
Someone is turning American school girls into suicide juggernauts.
Detective Jack “Blackjack” Carnahan investigates the brutal homicide of a postal employee and his family. A mysterious Man In Black agent from Homeland Security is focusing on Carnahan over the victim’s computer hard drive and what wasn’t on it when taken into custody.
Meanwhile, in the swamps of Louisiana, Special Agent Mallory Harmon is trussed up for ritual sacrifice by an inbred clan of alligator farmers. A startling discovery has been made: the frightening swamp dwellers have been trafficking in an exotic species — a species that has never been observed alive in the wild before.
Local hypnotherapist Buffy Rayburn has been drafted into the service of a “special task force” dispatched to investigate the the worst schoolyard shooting in U.S. history, the May Day Massacre. Buffy is the leading expert in the hotly debated existence of Satanic Ritual Abuse.
While Jack Carnahan races against the clock to discover the connections between a pint-sized suicide juggernaut, the brutal killings of a UFO researcher and his family, and the U.S. Government, a gang of assassins-for-hire, Denver Police motorcycle traffic cops by day, are closing in, determined to add Blackjack Carnahan to the list of casualties being shredded in this Pretty Hate Machine.
Buy the ticket. Take the ride.
Posted in Interviews
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Chaste is the third book by Jesse Teller in the Tales from Perilisc. In Teller’s prior book, Legends of Perilisc the god Cor-lyn-ber is mentioned the father of Hope and Light; Chaste focuses on Cor-lyn-ber and his followers in the small town. The town of Chaste is a remote town dedicated to Cor-lyn-ber that has been overcome with a deep sickness. Five strangers to the town arrive and all their destinies take a turn. The book is dark and filled with detailed violence. It is not for someone looking for fairies and elves. The theme of rape, abuse and murder run though the whole book revealing a dark and sick society struggling to find the light again.
The main characters are Father Frank, Cheryl the barmaid and self-appointed watcher of the town, and the five strangers, Ambul, Ruther, Sai, Sob, and Trevonne. Cheryl watched her parents die, her mother and battle and her father murdered. They were the religious leaders for Cor-lyn-ber and Cheryl from that point on lost all faith in her god. The first half of the book is all about the devastation of the town, the murders of their children, the sickness and evil that penetrates the land and people. The reader learns little about the five strangers only getting pieces of their history bit by bit. Trevonne is wizardass in training, she arrives in the town of Chaste weak and sick. Sob, an assassin and thief has taken on the role of protector of her. Ruther appears to be the leader of their group with a no nonsense mentality. Ambul and Sai call themselves brothers but they are not related. Sai is known as the great swordsman and dreams of a woman each night where they continue their love saga from afar. Ambul is referred to as the gentlest and good man known to man. He is an innocent and pure of heart, with a secret past.
The five strangers arrive in the town right after the death of another child. They all feel there is a wrongness in the town. The first night there Sob is out looking for jewelry to steal and comes in contact with the killer of the children. She recognized there was something evil and not human from the start but wasn’t staying around to investigate further. Meanwhile, back at the tavern and inn Ambul goes missing after a fight with Sai. The fight was brought on out of nowhere, the towns sickness already infecting them with its poison. From here the story of finding their missing friend, discovering the source of the sickness and purging the town of the poison is told.
The story of Cheryl is key to the novel, and she goes through a drastic transformation. Like all major transformation in life hers is a hard story and she learns lessons of pride and sacrifice. She also learns just how much control the gods of Perilisc have over her life and that of the world around her. She learns that her destiny is set by them, not herself. She must face her past, and Cor-lyn-ber himself.
Overall this book is not for the reader looking for a happy ending fantasy novel. This is fantasy at its darkest. Abuse, demons, and torture are key themes and some are described in vivid detail. If you can get past all that, the story is one of transformation, overcoming evil and delivering justice.
Pages: 244 | ASIN: B01J0FVC9S
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