Category Archives: 3 Star Books

A Review of No Shred of Evidence by Charles Todd

No Shred of Evidence (Inspector Ian Rutledge #18)

by Charles Todd

Why should you read this book?  I’m not sure. I suppose if you have read the previous 17 books in this series, you probably will be ready for number 18. If you are like me, and have never even heard of Inspector Ian Rutledge, you could give this book a shot, if you are a fan of mysteries that are set in Great Britain just after Word War I. Other than that, there really is no compelling reason to read No Shred of Evidence. The story just kind of meanders along, painting a picture of a time long ago, where everything moved more slowly, but some people still wanted to kill other people.

I didn’t really care about any of the characters in this book, so I wasn’t that curious about why anyone would want to kill any of them. The reasons were there and, I guess they were logical, but I found it hard to believe that everything had to be so mysterious. It just seemed strange that everyone had to lie, or tell their own version of the truth. Not very realistic.

I give No Shred of Evidence 3 Stars out of 5, because even though it was well written, it didn’t engage me. I didn’t feel a part of this story. Your experience may be different from mine.

As I was reading this book, I wondered if any of my friends from Great Britain have read any of the books in this series. If you have, let me know if you like this series, and if it strikes an authentic chord with you. Thanks.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher

Book Description

No Shred of Evidence by Charles ToddIn this absorbing new entry in the acclaimed New York Times bestselling series, Scotland Yard’s Ian Rutledge is caught up in a twisted web of vengeance and murder.

On the north coast of Cornwall, an apparent act of mercy is repaid by an arrest for murder. Four young women have been accused of the crime. A shocked father calls in a favor at the Home Office. Scotland Yard is asked to review the case.

However, Inspector Ian Rutledge is not the first Inspector to reach the village. Following in the shoes of a dead man, he is told the case is all but closed. Even as it takes an unexpected personal turn, Rutledge will require all his skill to deal with the incensed families of the accused, the grieving parents of the victim, and local police eager to see these four women sent to the infamous Bodmin Gaol. Then why hasn’t the killing stopped?

With no shred of evidence to clear the accused, Rutledge must plunge deep into the darkest secrets of a wild, beautiful and dangerous place if he is to find a killer who may—or may not—hold the key to their fate.

Book Details

Series: Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries (Book 18)
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (February 16, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062386182
ISBN-13: 978-0062386182
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds

About the Authors

Charles-ToddCharles Todd is the author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother and son writing team, they live on the East Coast.

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A Review of Power Surge: A Novel by Ben Bova

Power Surge: A Novel

by Ben Bova

3,0

I had high hopes for this book. It sounded really good, but it didn’t live up to its hype. The story was quite predictable, with only a couple of mild surprises. The characters felt generic. It seemed like I had met them all before, just “their names were changed to protect the innocent.” It isn’t that Power Surge was badly written, it’s just that it could have been so much more.

I give Power Surge 3 Stars out of 5. I really don’t recommend it, but other reviewers seem to have found something in it that I didn’t, so your experience may differ from mine.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

Book Description

Power Surge_coverSix-time Hugo winner Ben Bova brings us Power Surge, a gripping political thriller on the cutting-edge of science and technology

Dr. Jake Ross came to Washington, D.C., to make a difference. As the science advisor to a newly-elected freshman senator, Jake has crafted a comprehensive energy plan that employs innovative new technologies to make America the world’s leader in energy production while simultaneously boosting the economy and protecting the environment. The facts―and the science―are on Jake’s side, but his plan soon runs afoul of entrenched special interests, well-funded lobbies, cynical bureaucrats, pork-barrel politics, and one very powerful U.S. Senator.

To keep his plan alive and secure a sustainable future for America, Jake needs a crash course in the way Washington really works. Everyone keeps telling him that his plan has no hope of succeeding, but Jake is determined to prove them wrong even if it kills him . . . something that certain hostile parties may be all too happy to arrange.

Book Details

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (August 11, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765334976
ISBN-13: 978-0765334978
Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 1 pounds

About the Author

Ed Chappell
Ed Chappell

BEN BOVA is a six-time winner of the Hugo Award, a former editor of Analog, former editorial director of Omni, and a past president of both the National Space Society and the Science Fiction Writers of America. He is the author of more than a hundred works of science fiction and fact, including his most recent novel, Power Play. He lives in Florida.

ABOUT FORGE BOOKS:

FORGE BOOKS, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, is a New York-based publisher of hardcover and softcover books, founded in 1993 and committed (although not limited) to thrillers, mysteries, historical fiction and general fiction. Forge includes books by bestselling and critically acclaimed authors such as Douglas Preston, Eric Lustbader, W. Bruce Cameron and Ralph Peters. Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, is also the home of award-winning Tor Books, which annually publishes what is arguably the largest and most diverse line of science fiction and fantasy ever produced by a single English-language publisher.

A Review of Dance of the Bones by J.A. Jance

Dance of the Bones (J.P. Beaumont #22)

by J.A. Jance

Dance of the Bones is the second book that I’ve read that was written by J.A. Jance. This is a different series than Remains of Innocence, which featured Sheriff Joanna Brady. I was able to figure out what was going on in Dance of the Bones, even though I hadn’t read the previous books in the series.

I think that a J.P. Beaumont fan would have enjoyed it more than I did. I was rather put off by all the time the author had her characters mulling over past events. I can understand how that can allow a true fan to relive some of his fond memories of previous books, but come on, what a reader really wants is a story, that takes place now, that moves forward, instead of always looking back.

Since I’m not a die-hard fan, I can’t judge what they will think of Dance of the Bones, but I can tell you that I had to force myself to finish it. There’s nothing wrong with the writing, I just wasn’t really interested in the story. The action was slow and jumped around too much. And the way the characters were constantly thinking about the past; well I already covered that.

I give Dance of the Bones 3 Stars out of 5, and only recommend it to J.P. Beaumont and Brandon Walker fans.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Dance of the BonesJ. P. Beaumont and Brandon Walker, two of New York Times bestselling author J. A. Jance’s most acclaimed series characters, join forces for the first time in one of the most suspenseful works of her career.

Years ago, Amos Warren, a prospector, was gunned down out in the desert and Sheriff Brandon Walker made the arrest in the case. Now, the retired Walker is called in when the alleged killer, John Lassiter, refuses to accept a plea deal that would release him from prison with time served. Lassiter wants Brandon and The Last Chance to find Amos’s “real” killer and clear his name.

Sixteen hundred miles to the north in Seattle, J.P. Beaumont is at loose ends after the Special Homicide Investigation Team, affectionately known as S.H.I.T., has been unexpectedly and completely disbanded. When Brandon discovers that there are links between Lassiter’s case and an unsolved case in Seattle, he comes to Beau for help.

Those two cases suddenly become hot when two young boys from the reservation, one of them with close ties to the Walker family, go missing. Can two seasoned cops, working together, decipher the missing pieces in time to keep them alive?

Book Details

Series: J. P. Beaumont and Brandon Walker
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (September 8, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006229766X
ISBN-13: 978-0062297662
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

About the Author

Photo by Mary Ann Halpin
Photo by Mary Ann Halpin

J. A. Jance is the New York Times bestselling author of the J. P. Beaumont series, the Joanna Brady series, the Ali Reynolds series, and five interrelated thrillers about the Walker family, as well as a volume of poetry. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona.

A Review of Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes by Karin Slaughter

Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes (Kindle Single)

by Karin Slaughter

I had always wondered how these new eBook short stories would be. I think that Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes is more of a prologue to the next book, rather than a stand-alone short story. The last quarter of the file is actually a preview of Pretty Girls, which comes out next month. I will read it, and let you know if this story adds anything to the book when I post my review.

I read quite a few short stories, so I have a general idea of what a short story is supposed to give you.

At its most prototypical the short story features a small cast of named characters, and focuses on a self-contained incident with the intent of evoking a “single effect” or mood. Wikipedia

I know that short stories don’t always follow the same format, but I expect a tightly written narrative without a cliffhanger ending. I suppose that the ending of this story would have worked fine if the story was much shorter, and if the ending was more of a surprise, but after a while you really knew what the surprise ending would be.

I checked out the Amazon Singles Bestseller list and saw that most of the Singles written by major authors were this sort of a story. They were the prelude to the next book, something to make you want to purchase it. Many of them included a preview of that book. This may be the next new marketing idea, but unless you just have to read everything your favorite author puts out, you probably won’t be buying many of these stories. If these Singles were less than a buck, there might be more interest, but at two dollars a pop, I think I’ll be skipping most Singles.

I give Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes 3 Stars out of 5, because  the main character was interesting and the story introduced an idea that will probably be further developed in Ms. Slaughter’s next novel. I didn’t really believe the period setting of this story. It was set in the early Nineties, but something just didn’t feel authentic. It seemed forced.

I received a Digital Review copy of this book from the publisher.

Book Description

Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes by Karin SlaughterA beautiful young girl was walking down the street―when suddenly…

Julia Carroll knows that too many stories start that way. Beautiful, intelligent, a nineteen-year-old college freshman, she should be carefree. But instead she is frightened. Because girls are disappearing.

A fellow student, Beatrice Oliver, is missing. A homeless woman called Mona-No-Name is missing. Both taken off the street. Both gone without a trace.

Julia is determined to find out the reasons behind their disappearances. And she doesn’t want to be next…

Book Details

File Size: 640 KB
Print Length: 68 pages
Publisher: Witness Impulse (August 18, 2015)
Publication Date: August 18, 2015
Sold by:
 HarperCollins Publishers
Language: English
ASIN: B00Z751DUY
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
X-Ray:
Not Enabled
Word Wise: Not Enabled
Lending: Not Enabled
Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

About the Author

Photo by Alison Rosa
Photo by Alison Rosa

Karin Slaughter is the #1 internationally bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including the Will Trent and Grant County series and the instant New York Times bestseller Cop Town. There are more than 30 million copies of her books in print around the world.

 

A Review of Revenge of the Kremlin by Gérard de Villiers

Revenge of the Kremlin

by Gérard de Villiers

This is the third book in Gérard de Villiers’s Malko Linge series that is available in English in the US and Canada. Malko Linge is a very popular series in Europe, but since Gérard de Villiers died a couple of years ago, there won’t be any new books in the series in French.

Revenge of the Kremlin is a typical spy thriller with a lot of action and sex thrown into the mix. The story feels rather formulaic and the characters are pretty flat. The story is somewhat interesting, since it is very current and feasible and the pacing is good. Some of the story elements feel like they have been used for years in everything from James Bond to bad 1960’s spy movies. It was a quick read, and will hold your attention, but be forewarned the sex is rather graphic.

I read Chaos in Kabul last fall, and really liked it, but Revenge of the Kremlin didn’t impress me. I give it 3 Stars out of 5. It’s not bad, but not anything special either. If you want to try out this series, read Chaos in Kabul, it feels much more authentic

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

Book Description

Revenge of the KremlinThe 3rd of Gerard de Villiers’s novels published by Vintage Canada finds Malko Linge secretly helping the CIA investigate the suspicious death of Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky–a death which may have been ordered by Vladimir Putin himself.

In this gripping, tightly plotted tale of espionage, Malko Linge investigates the suspicious death of a Russian oligarch in London.

Boris Berezovsky is living in exile in London to avoid the wrath of Vladimir Putin. One morning, the unlucky oligarch is found dead in his bathroom, an apparent suicide.

Their suspicions aroused, MI5 opens an investigation—but Prime Minister David Cameron orders the case closed. Alarmed at the renewal of Russian Cold War tricks and Moscow’s increasingly close ties to London, the CIA dispatches Malko Linge to investigate Berezovsky’s death and the British cover-up. With help from an alluring former CIA handler, Malko dives into the search for hard evidence of the Kremlin’s involvement in the affair—putting himself directly in the crosshairs of the world’s most efficient assassins.

Book Details

Series: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Vintage (April 14, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0804169357
ISBN-13: 978-0804169356
Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 8.2 ounces

About the Author

Photo © Christophe Mourthé
Photo © Christophe Mourthé

Gérard de Villiers (1929–2013) is the most popular writer of spy thrillers in French history. His two-hundred-odd books about the adventures of Austrian nobleman and freelance CIA operative Malko Linge have sold millions of copies.

Malko Linge, who first appeared in 1965, has often been compared to Ian Fleming’s hero James Bond. The two secret agents share a taste for gunplay and kinky sex, but de Villiers was a journalist at heart, and his books are based on constant travel and reporting in dozens of countries.

On several occasions de Villiers was even ahead of the news. His 1980 novel had Islamists killing President Anwar el-Sādāt of Egypt a year before the event took place. The Madmen of Benghazi described CIA involvement in Libya long before the 2012 attack on the Benghazi compound. Chaos in Kabul vividly reflected the upheaval in Afghanistan. Revenge of the Kremlin lays the assassination of an exiled Russian oligarch in 2013 directly at the feet of President Vladimir Putin.

A Review of Dead Money Run (Lou Malloy Crime Series Book 1) by J. Frank James

Dead Money Run

by J. Frank James

Dead Money Run is an odd book. It is written from the point of view of a convicted robber, Lou Malloy. He gets out of jail and wants his stashed money. He also wants to find out who tortured and then killed his sister. He doesn’t mind performing some torture of his own trying to get the information that he needs. Lou Malloy says that he only kills the people who deserve it, but that stack of bodies gets pretty large.

Dead Money Run feels like a comic book. The characters are what you would expect to find in one of those unrated crime comics. None of them feel real, they are one-dimensional. The story is the same. It’s fun and exciting, but not very realistic. So does that make Dead Money Run a bad book? No, not at all. Just be aware of the fact that this is a bit over-the top, and that you won’t disappointed. Everyone needs a little flat-out escapism once in a while.

I give Dead Money Run 3 Stars out of 5. It’s not bad, but it isn’t great either. If you see it on Amazon for cheap, grab it for a few hours of fun.

I received an eBook from the publisher.

Book Description

Dead Money RunLou Malloy has just maxed out on a fifteen year prison sentence for the theft of $15 million and just before leaving prison he learns that his sister is brutally killed. As he is leaving prison, he’s told to keep his nose clean or he would soon be back. As far as Malloy is concerned all bets were off until he finds his sister’s killer. In the meantime, he has to fight off predators trying to get their hands on the money he stole and keep from being sent back to prison trying to protect those dear to him. He catches a break when he meets up with Hilary Kelly, a private investigator with an agenda of her own. She has been hired by the insurance company that paid on the theft claim of the money stolen from the casino by Malloy.

In the course of events, Malloy and Kelly become more than just friends and Kelly decides to throw in with Malloy. Together they work to uncover exactly what happened to Malloy’s sister and why. Their search involves a vicious gang led by a vengeful old man and his crazy son who has his own problems keeping his hands off other women. To make matters worse, Malloy and Kelly’s search is complicated by the fact that Malloy’s sister was really a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security and she was working undercover when she was killed trying to locate the whereabouts of special plates to produce counterfeit currency and that if the plates end up in the wrong hands, whole banking systems of major foreign countries could collapse overnight.

As Malloy and Kelly race to find the killer of Malloy’s sister, they enlist the help of Crusher, a pro wrestler who served in the cell next to Malloy at the Atlanta Penitentiary. The decision is made for Malloy and Company to hit the same casino again that Malloy robbed fifteen years ago by a special ops unit of the Department of Homeland Security. The plan is complicated by the fact that the ops unit is a phony setup led by a former agent turned rogue who is backed by another vicious gang with international contacts intent on getting their hands on the missing money plates. Malloy decides to go through with the heist of the casino a second time, but on a different schedule than planned. If they don’t make it they have no way to return to the real world. They are in a make or break it race. Read as they race to the finish line and learn if this where the run ends or the run begins….

Book Details

File Size: 703 KB
Print Length: 302 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: J. Frank James LLC; 1 edition (August 12, 2013)
Publication Date: August 12, 2013
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00EJ7108G
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
X-Ray:
Not Enabled
Word Wise: Enabled
Lending: Enabled

About the Author

Jim began his career in writing by first securing a BS degree in Journalism and a BS degree in Advertising from the University of Florida College of Journalism. While in school, he worked for the Gainesville Sun as a reporter, photographer and plate maker and several of his news stories were picked up by the Associated Press. From there Jim attended law school, obtained a Doctorate of Law. While in Law School he was a member of the law review and published an article as a member there.

As a self-taught artist and rug designer concentrating on endangered species, Jim has displayed his art in several galleries, such as in Booth Bay Gallery, Booth Bay, Maine; The Goodyear Cottage On Jekyll Island, GA (where he had a one man show); Blue Frog Gallery, Atlanta, GA; Glynn Art Ass’n, St. Simon’s Island, GA and now McIntosh Art Ass’n, Darien, GA. Working in acrylics, his work is bold, fun and inspiring. His prints are limited editions on both paper and stretched canvas.

To date, Jim has published four novels under the pen name J. Frank James in honor of his Father who was killed in World War Two. Jim lives in Atlanta with his lovely wife, Lorraine, and their seventy-five pound boxer named Jake.

His books are centered around two protagonists named Lou Malloy and Hilary Kelly as special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, they seem to attract trouble on a regular basis. Jim hopes you enjoy following them from one hot spot to another.

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A Review of Detroit is Our Beat: Tales of the Four Horsemen by Loren D. Estleman

Detroit is Our Beat: Tales of the Four Horsemen

by Loren D. Estleman

I really wanted to like Detroit is Our Beat, but there was just something that was a little bit off. The dialogue was good, it was funny, it felt real, but something was missing. I like my short stories to have a twist, something to grab you, and little bit of point. These stories don’t seem to have that. They have great dialogue, authentic sounding descriptions of Detroit, and they really put across the feel of Detroit during World War II, but most of them have very weak plots. They are more just little snapshots of the antics of the “Four Horsemen”, without the solid storyline that I expect in my short story collections. They are somewhat interesting as peeks into a long-lost era, but not what I was looking for.

I give Detroit is Our Beat 3 Stars out of 5. If you like your short story collections to be more character driven glimpses into recent history, instead of tightly written plot devices, then this will work much better for you than it did for me.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Detroit is Our BeatThe place: Detroit. The time: World War II.

While most of the police department is fighting overseas, the four men of the Racket Squad struggle to keep a lid on a powderkeg stuffed with draft-dodging troublemakers, Black Market gangsters, enemy saboteurs, and a mixed bag of racial and ethnic groups working uneasily side by side in defense plants run by the automobile industry.

With blackjacks, brass knuckles, tommy guns, and their bare fists, Lieutenant Max Zagreb, Sergeant Starvo Canal, and detectives McReary and Burke–known collectively as the “Four Horsemen”–battle their way through ten gritty stories in the hardest-boiled town during the twentieth century’s hardest-boiled decade.

Book Details

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Tyrus Books (May 2, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1440588457
ISBN-13:
Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
Shipping Weight: 1 pounds

About the Author

LDE_PHOTO_2014Loren D. Estleman graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1974 with a BA in English and journalism. In 2002, Eastern Michigan University presented him with an honorary doctorate in humane letters. He married the mystery writer Deborah Morgan in 1993. He writes with a manual typewriter.

He is most famous for his novels about P.I. Amos Walker; other series center on Old West marshal Page Murdock and hitman Peter Macklin. He has also written a series of novels about the history of crime in Detroit (also the setting of his Walker books), and a more recent series about Valentino, who tracks down lost films, and crimes related to them. His non-series works include Bloody Season, a fictional recreation of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and several novels and stories featuring Sherlock Holmes, as well as contributions to several books on how to write and sell stories and novels. Estleman’s literary works have been recognized and highlighted by Michigan State University in their Michigan Writers Series. (From Wikipedia)