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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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Polish Dragon P. I.

Steve Zimcosky Author Interview
Steve Zimcosky Author Interview

How did the idea for Death of a Bully start and change as you wrote?

It started from my previous book the “Disappearance of Marty McRory” which introduces the Polish Dragon P. I. into the story. I thought how it would be a great idea to perhaps do a series with a private investigator and to create different story lines. As I was coming up with the idea I thought how it might feel to investigate the death of an old schoolmate. Especially one who had issues in his younger years and was able to turn his life around. I had to do some research as to how private investigators work so I could make the story as believable as possible. The story line changed at the last minute when I thought how families have a hard time dealing with a member who has dementia.

What was the most interesting scene for you to write in the short story?

For me the most interesting thing was writing about the bullying that went on in the elementary school years of the characters. That I wrote from experience as I remember being bullied somewhat as a child. I could introduce martial arts training as a way to combat bullying and there are many martial arts schools that have such programs, like the Karate Institute of Cleveland. My martial arts training was later in life and I thought how that would have helped me in my younger days to defend myself.

Why did you go with the short story format instead of fleshing this out into a full novel?

It wasn’t intentional to do a short story but as I was writing it seemed like it all went together rather quickly and I enjoyed the way it turned out. There was plenty of information to keep the readers guessing and twist and turns to throw them off. My hope is that as I continue to write the stories get longer. They always seem to be shorter on Kindle then they do in a paperback version and I’m not sure why that is. But there have been some great novellas in the past such as: The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway, The Man Who Would be King by Rudyard Kipling, and The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells. I hope that my readers enjoy the stories and I can continue to write for them and myself.

Do you plan to write more stories about the Polish Dragon P. I.?

Absolutely. I want to make it into a series if I can. I have already started a new story with the Polish Dragon investigating a case of certain women who have disappeared. A lot of my stories take place in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio and this one will not be any different. I’m hoping to have it done in time for the holidays.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

A well-established attorney and philanthropist is found murdered in his bedroom without any clues. The ensuing investigation reveals a dark side to his past and perhaps the reason for his demise. His wife hires his old friend, a private investigator, to help solve the crime. The suspects rise and fall until the true killer is revealed.

Death of a Bully (Polish Dragon P. I.)

Death of a Bully (Polish Dragon P. I.) by [Steve Zimcosky]

A reunion is supposed to be fun, right? A lovely time to speak with friends you haven’t seen in far too long. Not this time. In Death Of A Bully, a reunion turns deadly, and everyone is wondering who did it. John is a well-respected attorney and philanthropist who gets murdered. An investigation starts and the search for the killer is on. While trying to locate the real killer, we learn that John was the high school bully. Everyone has a motive so the reader is left wondering who, out of all the possible suspects, could it have been!

Steve Zimcosky has written a page-turner with an unexpected twist that I was not prepared for. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, I was wrong. I felt sorry for certain characters, particularly Mark and Tom. I felt sorry for Mark because he was wrongly accused of something he didn’t do. I felt sorry for Tom because I liked his character and I empathized with him in certain parts of the book. I was a little surprised that Jack forgave his mother as quickly as he did. It was still an interesting twist added to the story, and I couldn’t put the book down because I was eager to see what would happen next. In the end, I didn’t agree with the reasoning that Emily had, but I know that everyone has their own way that they feel about things, and it didn’t stop me from finishing the book.

Death of a Bully is a short, but thrilling read. The writing style is engaging and the book is easy to follow and alluring. This is more of a suspenseful whodunit novella, Steve Zimcosky is able to deliver a riveting tale in under 100 pages. If you are new to Steve Zimcosky’s work than this is a good starter book for you that will introduce you to his literary style.

Pages: 87 | ASIN: B08DSL6GK8

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Demons of Divine Wrath

Demons of Divine Wrath by [Edward Izzi]

Demons of Divine Wrath by Edward Izzi is a fiction thriller about two murders tied to works of art stolen from the Uffizi Museum in Florence 75 years ago by the Nazis during World War II. Hermman Kalkschmidt dies in his apartment in Munich of an apparent gas leak. But the police detective soon suspects that things are not as they seem. Then six months later, another man is found dead in a hotel suite in Chicago. It is clear from the start that Don Carlo Marchese’s assassination is not a contracted mob hit. When newspaper reporter Paul Crawford begins to dig into the matter, he discovers an unexpected Vatican connection. Can Paul uncover why the mobster was killed, and what happened to the stolen artwork?

This book had a complex story line with many different threads that all tied back to the discovery of the stolen artwork. It was interesting to read the part that took place in 1943 Florence. I liked learning how all the pieces of the story fit together and how the mobster’s assassination in Chicago was connected to the murder of an eighty year old man in Germany. I was surprised by who had ordered the hit on Hermann Kalkschmidt when that person’s identity was revealed. I was intrigued to find out what happened to the hidden artwork after it went missing again. The ending of the book had a surprise twist that I didn’t expect.

The story started out a bit slow with a lot of description of settings and characters. For the first couple of chapters we’re introduced to new characters but no connections are yet made between the characters making it feel a bit disjointed. I felt that there were a lot of unnecessary detail throughout the book; such as airline flight number, seat assignment number, and street addresses.

Otherwise, I thought Demons of Divine Wrath is a riveting crime thriller with an engrossing plot that is propelled by captivating characters. This is yet another suspenseful whodunit novel by Edward Izzi.

Pages: 405 | ASIN: B07VMZJHM9

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El Camino Drive

John Valentino isn’t going anywhere fast. The middle aged, Detroit-based Detective has just been suspended from work after beating a colleague to a pulp, his marriage has fallen to pieces, and his drinking has spiraled out of control. Haunted by the events surrounding his father’s murder almost forty years before, John is self-destructive, bubbling over with rage and guilt, making him the prime suspect when his father’s killers start turning up dead. But is John really capable of putting an end to his family’s decades old vendetta, or is there someone else moving through the city undetected, enacting their long-awaited revenge?

The gripping new novel by renowned crime author, Edward Izzi, El Camino Drive, is an easily-accessible thriller, which delivers its readers jolt after jolt. Cleverly constructed twists and turns will keep most crime fiction fans guessing until the very end, with a range of secondary characters weaving in and out of different decades and narratives. John’s troubled present is interwoven with his father’s own checkered history, and Izzi is more than capable of handling the slips in time to probe family ties, trauma, addiction, justice, and redemption. 

You can’t help but like the book’s flawed protagonist, with his blatant disregard for authority and often misplaced good intentions, however little time is spent with female characters, who are all too often rated on their physical appearance and little else. 

Police procedurals play a relatively minor role in El Camino Drive, which is carried along more by the strong dialogue than by the usual detective work you would expect of a whodunit. Due to his suspension from the force, John is instead left to negotiate a minefield of long-standing vendettas, long-lost familial connections, as well as the contemporary dating scene. The premise is unique enough to engross most thriller, mystery, and crime fiction readers, however tweaks to the prose in order to create a more vivid, atmospheric read, would help attract a wider audience.

El Camino Drive is an immersive and enjoyable follow-up to Izzi’s earlier work. A modern take on American pulp fiction, El Camino Drive can alternate between fast, furious, and sleazy, almost like a video game plot turned novel.

Pages: 463 | ASIN: B08F4DPNMN

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