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Betrayed

Betrayed by Joseph Lewis is a contemporary psychological thriller and the third installment in a series revolving around a family of adopted brothers, some of which have had traumatic experiences in the past. George Tokay receives a panicked phone call from his childhood friend, whose brother has mysteriously gone missing. George and his adoptive brothers Brian Evans and Brett McGovern take a trip to Red Rock, Arizona, to aid the law in finding their missing friend. Little do they know, they’re playing with fire in an adventure that will suck them into a world of greed, intimidation and murder. As they focus on solving the mystery a dangerous group on men seem intent on killing them.

The novel is mainly narrated through the point of view of the principal protagonist Brian. An introspective boy, who throughout his journey questions his sexuality and contemplates his place in the world and within his adoptive family; all while keeping a promise even if it could mean his own death. This makes for a believable and relatable character. I found it easy who to understand and connect with him. The story takes place in Red Rock, a small Native-American town located at the top of the Navajo Nation Reservation in Arizona. Lewis does an excellent job of alluding to the readers senses and creating realistic scenes, which make you feel like you are in the story. While the storyline is riveting, with action-packed chapters that make the book hard to put down, an element that was too hard to believe was the fact that the FBI not only recruited three teenage boys to aid them in an incredibly dangerous mission, but also provided them with driving permits, vehicles, and firearms. It is explained that the boys were owed a favor from law enforcement, and its understandable that it was a necessary development story-wise. All things taken into account, the setting and character descriptions were extremely detailed, the story is well paced, the tone is fun and easy to follow.

Betrayed by Joseph Lewis is an enthralling crime thriller that is persistently entertaining. I look forward to reading more books in the series to follow the characters I’ve come to love.

Pages: 339 | ASIN: B08GCTV2XH

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Rats In A Maze

Rats in a Maze by [Peter Bailey]

Rats in a Maze by Peter Bailey is a wildly thrilling novel that is sure to keep you turning the pages long after midnight. The book follows the stories of Detectives Ray Fisher, Brad Lahoti, and the mysterious and alluring Jessica Sorenson. A puzzling case has the New York Police Department hard at work: two convicts end up drowned in a car, with explosives, but suicide is ruled out. So who is responsible and why are there so many loose ends? Surely their murderer hidden in the shadows must be dangerous or powerful to have avoided catching the attention of the higher-ups? Detectives Ray and Brad must team up to investigate this odd case outside of the traditional methods and procedures used by the NYPD.

Peter Bailey has written a novel with equal parts mystery and suspense. The plot is action-packed and the author does not neglect his character developments. The audience really gets to see who the characters are and ride along this roller-coaster of a book with them. Bailey does an excellent job of portraying his characters so realistically that they feel like real people. Each has their own personal troubles and strengths that lend them to becoming truly three-dimensional. Additionally, Bailey should be commended for his portrayal of a unique LGBTQIA+ character in a way that is non-stereotypical and welcomed by the others; it was a refreshing aspect of the novel. Even the villains of the story are well-thought-out and intriguing.

The only flaw in the book is the occasionally confusing passages that may leave out a detail here or there. Some of the nonimportant scenes in the book occur very quickly and almost too concisely to be followed completely. The first example of this is when a forensic examiner makes fun of Detective Lahoti for his sexuality. The jab was almost missed by me so its impact was lessened. But the confusing passages are few and far between and do not detract from the story as whole. Rats in the Maze is an electrifying read that is well-suited to being devoured in one sitting on a rainy day. It is incredibly fast-paced and will leave you desperate for more. I highly recommend this fascinating mystery adventure.

Pages: 199 | ASIN: B08JMC8VHJ

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Of Bread And Wine – Book Trailer

Chicago criminal attorney Michael Prescott is in Rome, visiting his best friend, Monsignor Robert Cavalieri, a Special Diplomat to the Vatican. He is informed that Giovanni Cardinal Masellis, the “Mafia Cardinal”, who was once the most evil cardinal in his day, has made a deathbed confession regarding the details of the poisoning murder of Pope John Paul I. His confession is secretly recorded by the Italian newspaper “La Repubblica” and their ambitious editor, Max Gianforte, who is desperately trying to confirm the Cardinal’s deathbed revelations. The dying Cardinal also reveals specific details regarding the circumstances of the Pope’s death, and the missing “Coins of Gregorio” which was a priceless gift donated by the influential Italian mobster, Don Giancarlo Cesario on the night before his murder. This gift was an attempt to bribe and influence His Holiness in the Vatican investigation of the Banco Ambrosiano scandal, his family was involved. Meanwhile, wine master Marco DiVito, the former Vatican Head of Security in 1978, now oversees his vineyard near the foothills of Rome. He meets his long lost daughter, Sienna, an investigative journalist with the Washington Post, whom he abandoned as a little girl in Boston. The Post has asked her to investigate “one of the biggest stories to come out of the Vatican in decades.” Michael Prescott meets Sienna at a local café, and originally tries to temper her investigative efforts before falling in love. As rumors swirl around Rome after the death of Cardinal Masellis, Italian crime boss Calogero “Don Charlie” Cesario believes that DiVito, who may be the actual murderer, also possesses these missing, priceless coins. He is unhappy with the implication of his family in this Vatican Confession Scandal, revealing total corruption and instability of the Vatican Church. His search will only end with the return of these rare coins or DiVito’s slow, painful death.

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Demons of Divine Wrath – Book Trailer

When Chicago mobster Don Carlo Marchese is found hanging from the 18th story window of the Blackstone Hotel, Reporter Paul Crawford of the Chicago Sun Times is assigned to investigate. He finds out that Don Carlo was brokering art works for the Vatican’s Pope Emeritus Hinorius V (Josef Cardinal Schroder). Because of all the innumerate sexual molestation lawsuits that have been settled by many archdioceses’ internationally, the Vatican has been in dire need of money, and began the process of liquidating Vatican Museum artworks. Last July, Hermann Kalkschmidt, the son of a former Nazi officer, is found dead in his Munich apartment. Hidden in his attic for the last seventy-five years, are forty-two paintings stolen by the Nazis from Florence’s Uffizi Gallery in 1943. His second cousin, Chicago art dealer Wolfgang Schmidt is suspected of having his cousin killed by the professional assassin Stefano Iannucci for possession of these paintings. The Pope Emeritus, “Papa Onorio” believes that these stolen paintings really belong to the Vatican Museum. He decides to try to recover the stolen art collection, believing that their recovery back to Rome would restore his abysmal public image. He turns to Chicago mobster Don Carlo Marchese to retrieve these works of art.Apparently, Pope Pius XI consigned the valuable art collection to Mussolini back in 1938, to be stored in safekeeping at the Uffizi Museum. He feared that if Hitler ever invaded Rome, the Vatican artworks would be looted. But in November 1943, the opposite occurred. Florence was invaded, and the Nazis discovered 103 Jewish refugee hiding in one of Florence’s basilicas. The paintings were traded to the Nazis for the lives of these Jews, who were supposed to be transported to Switzerland. They were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camps instead.When Marchese double crosses Papa Onorio, he hires “contract killer” Stefano Iannucci to stop at nothing, including murder, to retrieve those paintings. Meanwhile, Florence’s Giammarco crime family is in search of the Uffizi art collection as well, in conflict with the Vatican over their true ownership. Blood and dead bodies start appearing everywhere, from Chicago to Munich to Detroit to Florence, and the search for these paintings, and especially Fra Filippo Lippi’s valuable masterpiece “Demons of Divine Wrath” remain at large.

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The Case Of The Golden Helmet

Tom Thomas is nothing if not dedicated to his job with the Canada Revenue Agency. He devotes most of his life to ensuring taxes are paid, laws are obeyed, and citizens hold up their part of the bargain as tax-payers. When he is given a case that would have stumped any lesser investigator, Tom vows to bring the perpetrator to justice no matter how long it takes or how much groundwork he must put into the case. As he begins to follow the trail, Tom finds his way thwarted at almost every turn. Not one to give in, he digs in and applies every principle and resource to which he has access and sets out to pin one Harold Gerber.

The Case of the Golden Helmet, by Ted Ballantyne, is the story of one man’s investigation into a quite complicated case of tax evasion that spanned two countries and required the resources of multiple offices. To complicate matters, the perpetrator, Harold Gerber, engaged in a well-thought out money laundering scheme in order to avoid paying taxes. Gerber, the mastermind behind the complicated string of events, has his own simple reasons for refusing to pay taxes. His reasons are quite simple and straightforward, but they aren’t enough to keep him from paying his dues.

I was truly amazed at all of the background knowledge that went into the construction of what could have been a very basic plot. From cover to cover, Ballantyne details every phone call, connection, and favor called in in order to bring Gerber down. The author writes in a style that is technical and specific to the profession of tax investigation but manages to keep the dialogue from becoming bogged down in verbiage above the reader’s head.

This is quite a different style of realistic fiction and isn’t for all readers. I can’t say the book is anticlimactic, but readers who are looking for a book with drama or action will not find his particular style up their alley. Ballantyne has put a lot of work into creating a very specific type of read, and he has succeeded in creating a book for fans of technical writing–not drama.

Ballantyne’s characters are well written, his plot engaging, and the technical way in which he writes about tax laws is thoughtful and shows an unmatched dedication. The Case of the Golden Helmet is a compelling crime novel with a unique mystery that will hook fans of crime procedurals.

Pages: 143 | ASIN: B08KHCYTBP

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Rats in a Maze

Rats in a Maze by Peter Bailey is a crime novel surrounding the mysterious accident in Pier 54. Ray Fisher, the detective assigned to the case, believes there is more than what meets the eye. Together with his partner, Brad, they both try to uncover the mystery behind the accident. The accident uncovers the horrible truths of the world to Detective Fisher and his life changes. The concept of death becomes clearer to him as he goes about his job. What Detective Ray and Brad did not know was that they were signing up to one long suspenseful rollercoaster the moment they started the investigation on what seemed like a simple and normal traffic accident.

I was highly impressed by the story; it is not the typical crime fiction story going through the motions of a police procedural. The writer introduces readers to the characters on a high note, getting you to relate and empathize with the character so you care about what happens to them, and I liked how this feeling was consistent throughout the story. The characters are crafted specifically to fit into their roles. Peter Bailey does a fantastic job in incorporating different aspects of life into the story which made things feel authentic and grounded. We’re thrown into the detectives life through Detective Ray’s storyline but we are also thrown into story lines on family, romance, even in office settings. The way the writer switches up chapters keeps the reader engaged with the story, if not with the plot. Every chapter brings up a new event and a new twist without losing the progression towards the stories arc.

Rats in a Maze is a riveting mix of everything I wish for in a good crime fiction novel; government conspiracy, humour, people in power, romance, always with a dash of cunning crime solving. The book leaves readers with a cliff-hanger that will have you begging for a follow up novel.

Pages: 199 | ASIN: B08JMC8VHJ

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The Secret Angels

The Secret Angels (Darya Nandkarni's Misadventures Book 2) by [Smita Bhattacharya]

The Secret Angels (Darya Nandkarni’s Misadventures Book Two) by Smita Bhattacharya is a sensational mystery story set in the Bandra neighborhood of Mumbai. Over the past five years, three girls have disappeared from Chapel Road in the months of June and July. Although no bodies have been found, the locals believe it is the work of a serial killer that the media has dubbed the Angel Killer. After Darya moves to Chapel Road, she hears about the stories. Then women start disappearing from the villa where she and her friend Veda are staying. When Veda goes missing too, Darya is determined to find out what happened to her and the others. Will Darya end up being the next victim?

I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the book and I liked following the clues as more and more information was slowly revealed. The descriptions of the neighborhood and businesses and homes were detailed and helped me to create a clear picture of the setting. I wanted to know what would happen next and it kept me interested in reading the story. The ending was not at all what I had suspected. Several of my initial conclusions turned out to be incorrect, and I liked that I was not able to guess the truth early in the story. The lingering questions at the end of the book left me looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Who Threw Draco Down the Chimney? (Darya Nandkarni’s Misadventures Book Three).

While I did enjoy reading this novel, I felt that there was a lot of backstory and description of secondary characters at the start of the book that slowed the pace and made it hard for me to get into the story at the beginning. Darya, in the end, is an interesting character, but I felt that there were aspects of her character that were revealed part way through the book that felt as though they didn’t fit with the image of her that was created in the beginning.

The Secret Angels is still a riveting crime story that has a compelling mystery at its core that will easily draw in fans of noir crime novels.

Pages: 295 | ASIN : B07ZMR9MB4

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In the House of Night

In the House of Night (A Martin Preuss Mystery Book 7) by [Donald Levin]

When there’s murder, there’s mystery. When there’s secrets, there’s truth. What’s in the dark will always come to light. No matter how hard you try to suppress it justice will rise.

In The House of Night, by Donald Levin the reader is immersed into the gruesome murder of Charlie Bright, who was a history professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. PI Martin Preuss is hired by Bright’s friends to find out who killed him. Preuss is taken on a wild chase throughout the metropolitan Detroit region. Intelligent, observant and tenacious, will Preuss have what it takes to find the killer?

Levin has done an impeccable job building the suspense in this book. Making the reader feel as if they’re the protagonist in the book trying to solve a gruesome murder. The secrets that were revealed shocked me and made me want to continue reading on. Be prepared to be taken on a wild first hand chase into the depths of the investigation. The tone of this book can be really dark and heavy.

The author’s writing is concise and methodical. I was able to feel the tension and anger between characters. Each character has a distinct personality and you start to connect with some and dislike others. I was anxious to find out who was Charlie Bright’s killer.

Fans of mystery and suspense will not be disappointed because this book covers it all. The plot of In The House of Night is engaging and the author has done a fantastic job building each character. This is a thrilling crime novel with twists and turns that will keep you enthralled.

Pages: 336 | ASIN: B08JRN7HVL

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