Friday, June 30, 2017

Review: The Taste of Air by Gail Cleare


Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Women’s Fiction

Description:

“A simple phone call disrupts Nell Williams’s well-ordered life. Her mother, Mary, is in a hospital in Vermont. But her mother is supposed to be safely tucked away in an assisted-living facility in Massachusetts, so Nell can’t fathom why she would be so far from home.

After notifying her sister, Bridget, Nell hops on a plane and rushes to her mother’s side. There, she discovers that her mother has been living a second life. Mary has another home and a set of complex relationships with people her daughters have never met.

When Nell and Bridget delve deeper into their mother’s lakeside hideaway, they uncover a vault of family secrets and the gateway to change for all three 
women.”

Author:

“USA Today bestselling author Gail Cleare has written for newspapers, magazines, Fortune 50 companies and AOL. Her award-winning ad agency represented the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She was the turtle Leonardo's date for the world premiere of the second TMNT movie, and got to wear a black evening gown and sparkly shoes. Gail lives on an 18th century farm in Massachusetts with her family and dogs, cats, chickens, black bears, blue herons, rushing streams and wide, windy skies. She's into organic gardening and nature photography, and can often be found stalking wild creatures with a 300 mm lens.”

For more, visit her website.

Appraisal:

While not a mystery, The Taste of Air has a bit of a mystery at its root. How did Nell’s mother get from an assisted-living facility in Massachusetts to a Vermont hospital? As Nell and her sister Bridget uncover the answer to that question, an answer that is far more complicated than they would have dreamed, it sets the stage for them and the reader to consider a lot of things. How well do we really know the people we think we know best? Odds are you’re hiding things from your kids, parents, and/or spouse, not to mention other family and friends. What makes you think they aren’t doing the same?

While I enjoyed The Taste of Air for the story, full of suspense, mystery, and drama, which kept me entertained, it also got me thinking. That’s a good thing, isn’t it?

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

No issues

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Review: The Con Artists Next Door: Three Short Stories by Sophia Han


Genre: Suspense/Women’s Fiction/Short Story Collection

Description:

“Bernie Madoff. Charles Ponzi. Nigerian princes. We recognize the names of famous con artists, but can we detect the con artists right in front of us? In three short stories, Sophia Han explores how we can be deceived by people we think we know.

My Boyfriend, My Thief: A woman searches for her identity thief while failing to see the clues right in front of her.

Confessions of a Phone Scammer: A phone bank operator shares what happens at a work-from-home call center.

For Richer or Poorer: A wife debates the limits of her loyalty when her husband falls for a multilevel marketing scheme.”

Author:

Sophia Han is a library volunteer and author who lives in the Detroit metro area.

Appraisal:

Although each of the three stories in this collection have some common threads, each is unique, coming at the idea of being conned from a different angle. In each one the identity of the con artist and who they were conning was obvious to the reader. Where the tension came about was in wondering how it was going to end. Who was going to get hurt? Would the con artist get hurt or pay for their scam in some way? What did I want to see happen to whom?

This was a welcome change of pace. A quick, entertaining read.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number of typos and proofing errors.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 14-15,000 words

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Reprise Review: The Shadows Call by Matt Hilton


Genre: Paranormal/Horror/Crime

Description:

Jack Newman needs somewhere to live. He finds a house that’s large enough for his children to stay and, most importantly, is cheap. As an ex-teacher now working at a plumbing supplies business and paying maintenance to his ex-wife, money is in short supply.  But there’s something about the place that his friend, Sarah, doesn’t like. It feels oppressive. But Jack ignores her and takes the lease anyway.

Almost immediately Jack begins to experience events that are out of the ordinary - voices and a malevolent shadow that are all too familiar to him. Eventually Jack figures out the ghost that possesses the house is an ex-girlfriend who clearly wants to do him harm. As the strength of these occurrences grow they threaten Jack and Sarah’s very lives.

Author:

Matt Hilton quit his job as a police officer to become a full time author. Prior to this Matt spent twenty years submitting manuscripts to agents until in 2008 he secured a five book deal for his Joe Hunter series. The first, Dead Men’s Dust, won a variety of awards and became a bestseller.

As well as the Hunter thrillers the author also writes stories with a paranormal angle. Originally from Scotland, Matt now lives in Carlisle.

You can learn more about the author at his website.

Appraisal:

Matt Hilton’s works are characterized by pace and tight narrative with a steadily increasing tension that bursts at the conclusion. The Shadows Call is no different. Although sitting firmly in the paranormal genre there is a thriller element that forms the basis for the story.

Hilton immediately throws the reader several intriguing bones on the opening pages, is there really a ghost in the house? Jack is a non-believer, whereas Sarah, a work colleague who he likes, has a distinct interest in the area. There are parallels to my own situation where I am a sceptic, but open minded to the idea, whereas my wife has experienced events.

Hilton handles this ying and yang skepticism / belief very well, gradually increasing Jack’s acceptance and tying it to past events. Nothing is quite as it seems and in the last quarter Hilton turns the whole story on its head. I read this book in two sittings in 24 hours, the second at 3.30am. Even as a non-believer I made sure the lights were on when I walked around my house…

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Mild horror and violence.

Added for Reprise Review: The Shadows Call was a nominee in the Paranormal category for B&P 2015 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran December 30, 2014.

Format/Typo Issues:

None.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words

Monday, June 26, 2017

Review: The Power of Time Perception: Control the Speed of Time to Slow Down Aging, Live a Long Life, and Make Every Second Count Now by Jean Paul Zogby


Genre: Non-Fiction

Description:

Wondering how time flies? Want to slow it down?

Live the Longest Year of Your Life & Make Every Second Count!

With the latest in brain science, discover how to stretch the good times and fast forward through the bad ones. Understand how your brain perceives time, why it speeds up, and how to make the most of it”

Author:

With the last 6 years spent researching Time Perception in the fields of Neuroscience and Psychology, he is passionate about sharing what science has to say about our experience of time and ways to make every second count.

When not writing, Jean Paul composes soundtrack music for film, does research in astrophysics, and enjoys exploring the world.

A husband and father of two lovely daughters and a son, he currently resides in Dubai where he is the CEO on a multi-billion construction project.”

For more, visit the author’s website.

jpzogby.com

Appraisal:

I admit to being somewhat non-plussed about how to review this book. Not because of the book per-se, but because this is the first time I’ve selected a non-fiction title from Al’s list. However, I am a can-do guy, so here goes.

Why I selected the book: Clearly the title is attractive, probably to everyone, but even more so to me, a person riding out the last few innings of life. Of course I’d like to slow down my inevitable demise.

Did the book deliver on the powerful promise in the title: I’d have to say no. I did acquire an interesting way at looking at time through the lens of our perception rather than as a series of fixed increments measured on a clock face. But the concise message of the title was rarely the focus of the chapters in this book. The author wandered and deviated across a wide range of Neuroscience with a heavy smattering of pop-psychology.

On the positive side, the author did include supporting examples, which broke up the narrative, but unfortunately, there were many instances where three or four studies were detailed back-to-back with the same conclusions and with little or no new insights. This did get wearing at times.

I feel confident in summarizing the book as follows: When we are engaged in enjoyable activities, time appears to go quickly. When we are stuck in unpleasant situations, time seems to drag. So, to make life seem longer, we should be very “mindful” when involved in pleasant activities, and use dead time to focus on more interesting activities. Disciplining ourselves in this manner we will “appear” to live an extended life. For this reader, this revelation didn’t fulfil the promise of the title.

Buy now from:            Amazon US     Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

The number of typos exceeded the standard set by Al. These didn’t cause any misunderstandings, but they were irritating.

Rating:  *** Three Stars

Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words

Friday, June 23, 2017

Review: One Sip at a Time by Keith Van Sickle


Genre: Travel Memoir

Description:

“Can a two-career couple really pick up stakes and move to Provence?
Keith and Val had a dream – to live in Provence, the land of brilliant sunlight, charming hilltop villages and the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean.
But there were two problems: they weren’t French speakers and they had full-time jobs. So they came up with a plan…”

Author:

“Keith Van Sickle is a technology industry veteran and lifelong traveler who got his first taste of overseas life while studying in England during college. But it was the expat assignment to Switzerland that made him really fall in love with Europe. With his wife Val and their trusty dog, he now splits his time between Silicon Valley and Provence, delving ever deeper into what makes France so endlessly fascinating.”

Find out more about Keith on his website.

Appraisal:

At its heart One Sip at a Time is a travel memoir. And yet it is different than most travel memoirs I’ve read in ways both good and … not really bad, not really good, definitely different. I’ll try to explain.

There are two things I tend to look for and expect in a travel memoir. The two words in that phrase are a hint. For the travel part I’m hoping to get a sense of the place the person is traveling to or through. That might include something about the scenery, the culture, the people, or whatever it is that made this place special, different, or worth visiting to the author. The memoir part is the more personal. It’s what sets a travel memoir apart from a guidebook or brochure from the local tourism office. Ideally this part is not only how they react to the experience of traveling, but also how it changed them.

Typically, that last item comes from a narrative that is mostly chronological with (sometimes literally) one foot in front of the other, going from point A to point B. This book isn’t like that. Although it has two parts that are tied together chronologically, it’s more like a series of essays or true stories that related different experiences with no obvious order or transition from one to the other. What that meant was that rather than having a climax or realization of how the trip had changed the author near the end, it happened (or the reader noticed and realized it was happening) through a gradual process. If anything, that’s more realistic in how change really happens and it worked for me as a reader.

As for the travel part, I thought the author’s insights into the culture and people went much deeper than a typical travel memoir would, largely because his goal wasn’t to be a traveler, but to be an actual resident (even if short term) of the area of France he was visiting. That paid off, for him and for us.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 20-25,000 words

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Reprise Review: Vulgarian Vamp by Barbara Silkstone


Genre: Humor/Mystery/Adventure/Paranormal

Description:

“You are cordially invited to the destination wedding of Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider and Doctor Roger Jolley, world-renowned archaeologist to be held at the Van Helsing Resort and Spa in Loutish, Vulgaria. In lieu of wedding gifts please bring whole garlic buds. The ceremony will begin once the forty bloodless monks are contained in Carfax Abbey.”

Author:

“Barbara Silkstone is the best-selling author of the Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider series ~ Mystery Comedies featuring Wendy Darlin, Miami real estate broker and part-time Tomb Raider. Silkstone enjoys doing playful things with language as she writes criminally funny tales ripped from the headlines...shaken, not stirred, and served with a twist and a chuckle. She lives in south Florida where she survives on buttered popcorn and fried chicken... extra crispy.”

You can find out more about Ms. Silkstone at her website or connect with her on her blog. Ms. Silkstone has also recently opened another website that has nothing to do with books. “The Second Act CafĂ© is a place for those lingering on either side of fifty. It’s about getting even by having fun. Life truly should be one long laugh.” Her books are also available on Audible.com.

Appraisal:

Roger Jolley has finally convinced Wendy to marry him so he whisks her off for a destination wedding in Vulgaria. Wendy allowed Roger to pick the location, her only requirement was that it be thug-less. Wendy is also sporting a seven month baby bump and the hormones that come with that stage of pregnancy. To say she was a bit cranky at times is an understatement. Hilarity ensues as both Wendy and Roger try to curb their language so as not to taint little Roger’s ears while in the womb, in hopes that the habit will stick with them after the baby is born. With Wendy’s best friend, Kit, by her side for support and the assistance of Miss Squirl E. McCurley, the hotel innkeeper/cook, the Van Helsing Resort and Spa looked to be the perfect romantic location. NOT.

Needless to say the quaint little town of Loutish has more surprises for the happy couple than they expected. Between the mysterious events that had just befallen the Carfax Abbey, to old Vulgarian customs that must be adhered to for their wedding to be legal, and mob mentality Loutish villager’s the festivities get a little disorderly. Just for fun Ms. Silkstone has thrown in a politician building his platform for the upcoming election, a mattress salesman who sees a business opportunity, an ex-husband thought to be dead, and vampires. All these ingredients are stirred, not shaken, and ultimately brought together with Roger’s secret motive for choosing Van Helsing Resort and Spa that makes one hell of a good story that will warm the cockles of your heart. 

The plot is fast paced and multi-layered as things spin out of control, at least until the Vatican Vampire Investigators arrive in the Vaticopters. Will Roger and Wendy manage to get married by Reverend Bram Soaker and protect the cutest little non-sparkly vampire, Mina, who has been living on the wine stored under Carfax Abbey her entire undead life? This is a fun mystery with a surprise twist at the end. I can’t wait for Wendy’s adventures to continue.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

This is the fifth book in the Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider series. While this could be read as a stand-alone, I think it would be more thoroughly enjoyed having read the previous books of the Tomb Raider series.

Added for Reprise Review: Vulgarian Vamp was a nominee in the Humor category for B&P 2015 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran July 22, 2014

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant errors.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 40-45,000 words

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Review: Tales of Aldura: Tears of a Seeress by Susan Stuckey


Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult/Short Story

Description:

“If Father Tree dies so will all children and creatures of the Twin Goddess including the Njae. Arael's Rest, the home of the Kalwyn Njae, has been under siege by the Halurdow for more than a generation. Added to the enemy, a plague has struck the Njae--a plague that is always fatal. If any Kalwyn Njae are to survive, they must flee their home. Seeress Illyani and her son, Glimrion, fight to save Father Tree and stop the Halurdow. Will they succeed?”

Author:

Susan Stuckey: “Currently (mostly) retired, but 'back in the day' Susan was a meek, mild-mannered, self-effacing accountant/auditor by day but after 5:00 her imagination broke free. She either played with historical stories, or in the magical World of Aldura she created.

Besides playing in fantasy worlds and/or historical times, Susan dabbles in various hobbies, loves to try new recipes, and is the servant of multiple fur-children (both feline and canine).”

Learn more about Ms. Stuckey by checking out her website and Facebookpage.

Appraisal:

Tears of a Seeress is a prequel to Phaedra. It’s a powerfully emotional tale about love and commitment for family, clan, and hope for a better future. Father Tree grows in the heart of Arael's Rest, the home of the Kalwyn Njae, who have been entreated to its protection. The Njae have erected a Barrier Wall surrounding Arael’s Rest, which will be imbued with magic following their exodus, to safer territories. The Halurdows, blood-thirsty warriors of the Dark God - Urdow, are sworn to annihilate everything the Twin Goddess has created, are fast approaching the gates of Arael’s Rest.    

Seeress Illyani and her entire family, are facing heart-wrenching decisions before the exodus through a secret tunnel under the Barrier Wall. The plot moves fast, as there are only fourteen pages. However, that doesn’t mean this is a light read. Ms. Stuckey has chosen her words wisely to weave heart-breaking tension and reflection to draw the reader in quickly while setting up the premise. The main characters and setting are well described. The magic is well thought-out and fascinating. I am glad I picked up this short story and highly recommend all of Ms. Stuckey’s stories in her Tales of Aldura series. She is a masterful storyteller and will not let you down.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Although Tears of the Seeress is set earlier in the time-line, than other Tales of Aldura series, I would recommend reading this after reading Phaedra.

Format/Typo Issues:

No errors in proofing or formatting.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 4-5,000 words

Monday, June 19, 2017

Review: More Conversations with Pop by Michael Brooks


Genre: Humor

Description:

More Conversations with Pop is a fun-to-read collection of quick flash fiction stories of conversations between a father and his son. Pop has a unique (and sometimes annoying) way of viewing life but always finds ways to impart nuggets of wisdom, while engaging in humorous verbal sparring matches with his son who is always there to keep his father grounded.”

Author:

An author of both fiction and non-fiction, Michael Brooks has written stories and articles for several periodicals and websites. “He has an M.A. in Writing Studies, is endeavoring to expand his fiction repertoire, and dreams of being a Jeopardy answer some day.”

Appraisal:

I count an even dozen stories in this collection which means they’re around six or seven hundred words each. Flash fiction is short and quick to read. Like Brooks’ original Conversations with Pop these stories are quick conversations that go back and forth between the narrator and “Pop,” his father. I suspect Pop is around my age or slightly older, so I can relate to his way of seeing things. The narrator, while obviously an adult with a kid of his own, doesn’t have Pop’s experience. He’s not as “old and wise.” But both are quick with a quip and the narrator especially skilled at putting Pop in his place when required. I found this fun, funny, and at times an impetus to ponder something from a different angle.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 7-8,000 words

Friday, June 16, 2017

Review: Didn’t Get Frazzled by David C. Hirsch, M.D.


Genre: General Fiction

Description:

“Medical student Seth Levine faces escalating stress and gallows humor as he struggles with the collapse of his romantic relationships and all preconceived notions of what it means to be a doctor. It doesn’t take long before he realizes not getting frazzled is the least of his problems.

Seth encounters a student so arrogant he boasts that he’ll eat any cadaver part he can’t name, an instructor so dedicated she tests the student’s ability to perform a gynecological exam on herself, and a woman so captivating that Seth will do whatever it takes to make her laugh, including regale her with a story about a diagnostic squabble over an erection.

Didn’t Get Frazzled captures with distressing accuracy the gauntlet idealistic college grads must face to secure an MD and, against the odds, come out of it a better human being.”

Author:

“David Z Hirsch grew up on the steppes of Nebraska peddling Kool-Aid off I-129 until saving up enough cash for medical school. After graduation, he moved to Pyongyang to teach pre-med classes at Kim Il-sung University. He soon fell out of favor and was imprisoned at Kaechon where he traded medical favors for soup and toilet paper until he made a daring escape across the border.

Dr. Hirsch subsisted for the next three years by foraging gooseberries and licking the dew off spiny toads. This led to a burst of creativity, and he wrote the first draft of Didn’t Get Frazzled on bark peeled off a dying Manchurian Ash tree. Ultimately discovered in a semi-feral state by the China Coast Guard flotilla from Liaoning, Dr. Hirsch returned to the United States sixty pounds lighter but more inspired than ever.

David Z Hirsch is a pen name, so absolutely nothing in the above paragraphs are true. This is not lying, you see. It’s fiction. Many well-regarded sources insist that these are two distinct things. The actual guy who wrote this novel is a practicing physician in Maryland. His life story is considerably more prosaic, but in his head he lives a fascinating, fascinating life.” 

Appraisal:

Although the author’s name is fictional, this story was written by an M.D., which leads to some medical terms that left me somewhat cross-eyed. However, the authenticity of the main character's experience as he stumbles through medical school, made the Latin inconsequential.

Be warned, if you buy this book and read it in a public place, you may well embarrass yourself by laughing aloud. Well, the laughter might not cause you a red face, but if you have to explain what is so funny--good luck with that!

Along with light-hearted humor where the reader is laughing along with the main character and not at others, the author includes a smattering of well-considered social commentary on what exactly makes a good doctor. He educated me on the tremendous stresses endured not just by medical students, but also by those already qualified doctors who are expected to teach as well as perform their onerous duties on a hospital ward. For Seth, the stress extends beyond the hospital wards and stretches his personal relationships to breaking point.

In summary, this is a terrific read. For a doctor, the author’s writing is beautifully clear and accessible--see what I did there? At 99 cents on Kindle, this is a bargain you shouldn’t miss.

Buy now from:            Amazon US     Amazon UK

FYI:

Format/Typo Issues

A few typos, but not enough to irritate.

Rating:  ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Reprise Review: To Hell and Gone in Texas by Russ Hall


Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Description:

“Trouble big as all hell.

Retired sheriff’s detective Al Quinn hasn’t spoken to his brother, Maury, in twenty years. When Maury lands in the hospital under suspicious circumstances, though, Al reluctantly abandons his quiet country seclusion to look into the matter. A second attempt to take Maury out drives the brothers back to Al’s lakeside home, where Al knows the territory, but they’re not alone for long. ICE agents demand that Maury rat on his silent partner, city cop Fergie Jergens comes investigating the murders of Maury’s lady friends, and someone takes a match to Al’s house.

Al soon learns his problems are only getting started—his brother’s in trouble on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Caught in a ruthless power struggle between the ICE and Los Zetas, a vicious Mexican mafia bent on ascendancy, Al learns the hard way who he can trust—and who’s willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.

With everything he loves on the line, Al will find out just how far he’ll go to protect his own.”

Author:

The author of numerous books, from mystery to westerns and nonfiction to poetry, Russ Hall is an award-winning author who currently lives in Austin.


Appraisal:

To Hell and Gone in Texas is a mystery that often reads like a police procedural (to be expected with a retired sheriff’s detective as the protagonist), yet it has much more going on. It’s a thriller, with several intense scenes where the good guys aren’t sure they’ll make it through (this sure isn’t a cozy mystery). There’s a hint of romance and it’s even spiked with a touch of humor, as in this line near the beginning when the protagonist, Al Quinn, is learning why Maury, his estranged brother, is in the hospital:

“Well, the lab tests suggest he’d taken the equivalent of three Viagra tablets. Why do you suppose he’d do that?” 

“Ambitious?”

But what makes To Hell and Gone in Texas unique from a typical book in this genre neighborhood is the secondary storyline about the relationship (or lack thereof) between Al and Maury. We slowly learn what caused their falling out and, to use a clichĂ©, things aren’t always quite what they seem. An intense and entertaining read.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Some adult language.

Added for Reprise Review: To Hell and Gone in Texas was a nominee in the Mystery category for B&P 2015 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran December 2, 2014

Format/Typo Issues:

Although the version I read was an advance reader copy and I can’t judge the final product in this area, I found no significant issues in the review version.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Review: With the Right Enemies by Rob Pierce


Genre: Hard-Boiled/Crime Fiction

Description:

“Vollmer’s a young guy, grows up on ugly streets. He survives by being uglier, hurting people for money, hurting people because he likes hurting people. When he’s hired to track down Dust and bring back the money he stole, keeping Dust alive isn’t a priority. Neither is keeping anyone else alive, even people he loves. Vollmer’s killed people he loves before. With The Right Enemies is the bullet-drenched follow-up to Uncle Dust, Rob Pierce’s acclaimed debut novel about a bank robber’s disastrous fling with domestic life.”

Author:

“Rob Pierce wrote the novels Uncle Dust and With The Right Enemies, the novella Vern In The Heat, and the short story collection The Things I Love Will Kill Me Yet. Editor of Swill Magazine, an editorial consultant with All Due Respect Books, and co-editor at Flash Fiction Offensive, Rob has been nominated for a Derringer Award for short crime fiction and has had stories published in numerous ugly magazines. He lives and will probably die in Oakland, California.”

Appraisal:

Mickey Spillane fans will not be disappointed. With the Right Enemies is a stylistically adept dark tale with clipped narrative, gritty dialog, and plenty of psychopaths.

The action races through California’s Bay Area cities of Berkley and Oakland.

“Oakland was bloody. Nothing unusual there, but Berkeley was bloody too. The towns were side by side and there was violence in both, but Berkeley was a university town, the focus was on the achievements of the educated masses, not the occasional shootings in bad neighborhoods. In Oakland, every minute was a possible occasion.”

Pierce depicts the locale with authority and creates a chilling bunch of characters that could have been lifted straight from police blotters.

My only complaint is that the story is not quite a complete tale. It is a sequel to Uncle Dust and apparently a prequel to another installment in a sort of Perils of Pauline serial. Except for the people who are killed, events do not affect the characters. They are the same at the conclusion as they are coming.

While it’s a ripping narrative as far as it goes, it doesn’t have the psychological tension of Raymond Chandler or the genre’s greatest wacko, Jim Thompson. I say that only out of respect for Pierce’s obvious talent and the expectation he can move to a higher level.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

This is a hard-boiled crime novel. If you’re sensitive to language and such, this isn’t your thing to begin with, right?

Format/Typo Issues:

None

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: Sam Waite

Approximate word count: 50-60,000 words