Category Archives: Thriller

A Review of Prime Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Prime Time: A Charlotte McNally Novel

by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Prime Time is the first book in the Charlotte McNally series. It was originally published in 2007, and won the Agatha Award for best first novel of 2007. The whole series is being reissued this year.

Charlotte McNally is an investigative reporter with a Boston TV station, as is the author, Hank Phillippi Ryan. Since Ms. Ryan knows the business, everything about Prime Time smacks of reality. A lot of authors follow that old adage, “Write what you know.” That usually works. Most of the time the author is able to tell a story that could really happen, but that doesn’t mean that they can write a story that is worth reading. Ms. Ryan is that exceptional writer that can grab the reader with engaging, realistic characters, and an exciting, authentic plot filled with unexpected twists.

You really believe in Charlie. She is a TV reporter trying to get that next big story that will guarantee that she has a job for another few months. You want her to figure out what is going on, and expose the powerbrokers before they can eliminate her.

I give Prime Time 4 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up! I recommend it to anyone who likes their Mysteries blended together with a touch of romance and humor along with a heavy dose of reality.

I received a copy of this book from the author.

Book Description

Prime TimeSeasoned investigative reporter Charlotte McNally knows that in the cutthroat world of television journalism, every story could be your last. There’s always someone younger and prettier to take your place, always a story more sensational to drive ratings through the roof.

When Brad Foreman’s widow demands to know why Charlie never answered his email, Charlie is confused. She never received his message. What did Brad, an accountant at a pharmaceutical company, want to tell her? As she searches through her computer, she finds an innocent-looking email in her junk mail folder that may turn out to be the biggest story of her career.

Is the encoded email–and the ones that follow–linked to Brad’s “accidental” death? Charlie’s investigation leads her to Brad’s friend, professor Josh Gelston, who is charming and exceedingly helpful–perhaps suspiciously so.

Charlie must decide if she can trust Josh…before a multimillion-dollar fraud ring with murder in its arsenal makes her the next lead story.

Book Details

Series: Charlotte McNally (Book 1)
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Forge Books (February 9, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765384752
ISBN-13: 978-0765384751
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces

About the Author

hank-ryan-crop-pressHank Phillippi Ryan is the bestselling author of eight award winning novels of suspense. National reviews have called her a “master at crafting suspenseful mysteries” and “a superb and gifted storyteller.”

Her newest book, WHAT YOU SEE, is a Library Journal BEST of 2015, an ANTHONY and AGATHA Award nominee, and a Top Pick!, dubbed “exceptional suspense.” It received a starred review from Library Journal which says: “Readers will find themselves racing to the finish!”

Her 2014 book, TRUTH BE TOLD, won the AGATHA Award for best mystery, and is a Library Journal Best of 2014. It received starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal, which says, “Drop everything and binge read!”

THE WRONG GIRL has the extraordinary honor of winning the Agatha Award and the Daphne Award, and is a seven-week Boston Globe bestseller and Anthony Award nominee.

THE OTHER WOMAN won the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award, and was listed as a Best Book of 2012 by the Kansas City Star, the Sacramento Bee, Suspense Magazine, and The Boston Globe, won the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award, and was the only novel nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, Shamus and Daphne awards for Best Novel of 2012.

Her first four mysteries, beginning with the Agatha Award-winning PRIME TIME, feature Charlotte McNally, a Boston television reporter. FACE TIME was a BookSense Notable Book, and AIR TIME and DRIVE TIME were both Anthony and Agatha Award nominees for best novel of 2009 and 2010. They are now available in all new editions.

Hank is also an award-winning investigative reporter at Boston’s NBC affiliate. Her work has resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in refunds and restitution for victims and consumers. In addition to 33 EMMYs and 13 Edward R. Murrow awards, Hank’s won dozens of other honors for her ground-breaking journalism. She’s been a radio reporter, a legislative aide in the United States Senate and an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine.

Hank is a founding teacher at Mystery Writers of America University and served as 2013 president of national Sisters in Crime.

Learn more about Hank at http://www.HankPhillippiRyan.com.

Advertisements

A Review of Inevitable Ascension by V. K. McAllister

Inevitable Ascension

by V. K. McAllister

Inevitable Ascension is all over the place. I mean it never stops moving. Violina and Lux hop across time and run into trouble no matter where or when they are. The whole book has nearly a video game feel to it. You don’t have any idea what is coming up next, because you don’t know whether this time and place is going to exist or not. Much of the plot is based on the idea that time travel to the past may change the present, but maybe not, because maybe the present already reflects the fact that time travel had already happened, or is going to happen. Try to get your brain around that idea. I was intrigued by this premise. It kept me interested.

Is Inevitable Ascension great literature? No, but is a very different book, and fun to read. Will you like it? I don’t know, I did. Sometimes I got a bit confused, but I always found my way back. I enjoyed the concept and the action. The writing was a bit hit and miss, at times, but it worked for me. Overall, a unique and fun book. Kind of a YA, Steampunk, Fantasy, Time Travel, Action Adventure. If that sounds like your kind of book, then I think that you will like it.

I give Inevitable Ascension 4 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up!

I received a Digital Review Copy from the author.

Book Description

1Violina, a girl polarized by love and loathing, finds herself thrown into a post-apocalyptic world with mankind on the brink of extinction. Discovering the means to travel back in time, she sets out to save the world by preventing the events leading up to the apocalypse. But as her quest advances, she becomes increasingly disgusted by the evil inherent to humanity and seeks lethal justice against all who wrong her—a list that grows exponentially until it encompasses all of mankind.

What was it that gave people the right to live?  Was it simply being born?  No. Everyone is born to no credit of their own. It’s the choices people make that determine whether they deserve their lives, and by that standard, everyone Violina knew deserved to die — everyone except for Lux.

Book Details

File Size: 706 KB
Print Length: 236 pages
Publisher: KZA, LLC (September 12, 2015)
Publication Date: September 12, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B015AS2FTA
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
X-Ray: Not Enabled
Word Wise: Enabled
Lending: Enabled
Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

Who is V. K. McAllister?

We’re a husband/wife duo with a unique approach to writing. We work simultaneously and in secret before combining what we come up with, resulting in dramatic and unexpected twists! Crazy? Yes, yes it is, but it’s surprisingly fun and effective. 🙂

A Review of Cascadia by H.W. “Buzz” Bernard

Cascadia

by H.W. “Buzz” Bernard

Do you like blockbuster disaster movies? Do you ever read a typical “beach book”? If you say yes to either one of these questions, then Cascadia by Buzz Bernard is the perfect summer read for you.

As I was reading Cascadia, I kept saying to myself, “This could make a perfect movie script without any changes at all.” I could picture all my favorite stars in the main roles, and even as some of the minor comic relief characters. This would be a lot of fun. I hope it actually does happen, because this disaster could happen at any time, and the general population should know about the potential danger.

Mr. Bernard has done his research. There is a real danger to the people in the Pacific Northwest, and Cascadia is a warning. He shows what could possibly happen in our lifetime. Maybe it won’t happen this year or next, but sometime within the forseeable future, a major earthquake will happen just offshore and result in a tsunami. This will cause massive damage and kill many people. Is there any way to predict when that will happen? Science can’t, at this time, but maybe there is something else that can send that warning. That is what happens in Cascadia.

I really enjoyed reading Cascadia. It felt a bit formulaic, but so what, most disaster movies are too, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying them. Like any good action book, it starts off slowly, and then it ramps up exponentially as you approach the climax. The characters are likable, if somewhat predictable. But I liked them, and didn’t want any of them to die in the tsunami. Overall, a perfect summer beach book.

I give Cascadia 4 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up.

I received an Advance Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Cascadia-home-cvrAccording to ancient legend, when Thunderbird is sated, he is harmless.  But he always grows hungry again…

Rob Elwood knows what the thin layer of sand buried in tidal marsh mud is telling him: it’s been a little over 300 years since the Northwest coast was mangled by a megaquake and the tsunami that followed. As a geologist, Rob knows that all the evidence suggests that it will happen again, though he doesn’t know when. And his academic training can’t help him decide what to do with an irrational premonition that a modern megaquake will hit on the 4th of July.

Neahkhanie Johnny doesn’t need science to tell him what he knows in his bones. For more than a decade, he has regularly returned to the same section of the coastal mountains, driven by an unshakeable faith that their legendary buried treasure is more than legend. He is indifferent to the bears, unstable scree, and the people who take his conviction for lunacy. Nothing can shake him from the hunt, except the very ground beneath his feet.

Through the entwined stories of a visionary scientist and his son, a quixotic veteran, a lovely but mysterious anthropologist, and a retired fighter pilot with amends to make to a former lover, Cascadia tells a story about faith and conviction in the face of an unimaginable reality.

Book Details

Release: July 11, 2016
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
ISBN: 978-1-61194-679-6
Price: $15.95
Kindle Price:  $7.55
Pages: 234
Distribution: Amazon/Ingram
eBook Distribution: Kindle, Nook
Publicity Contact: MindBuck Media

About the Author

BERNARDH.W. “Buzz” Bernard has written four previous suspense stories, which have risen to number one in the Kindle store and won multiple Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition awards. Before becoming a novelist, Buzz worked at The Weather Channel as a senior meteorologist for 13 years.  Prior to that, he served as a weather officer in the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of colonel. He is a proud recipient of the US Legion of Merit.

A Review of Titanborn by Rhett C. Bruno

Titanborn

by Rhett C. Bruno

What happens when mankind is nearly wiped out after a large meteor hits the Earth? Mr. Bruno shows us one possibility. In Titanborn, mankind refuses to give up, and won’t let something like that ever happen again. Before the meteor struck, some of the brightest scientists were able to escape in a gigantic ship and set up a base on Titan, one of the moons of Saturn. They escaped the hundreds of years of mass destruction and human suffering that happened on Earth. They learned to mine Saturn, and its rings and moons. They prospered.

This book takes place 300 years after the meteor struck. Mankind survived. People are going to the stars, so that no one single event can wipe humanity out. Companies compete for the resources that can be extracted from the planets and moons of this solar system. But this isn’t Utopia. There are criminals, terrorists, revolutionaries, and other undesirable people who disrupt life. Some of those need to be brought to justice, sometimes they may be killed, but, oh well, that can’t be helped. Malcolm Graves does the collecting.

Titanborn is an excellently written science based thriller. This world could happen. But this isn’t just an action-thriller. Mr. Bruno brings Malcolm Graves and his new partner, Zhaff, to life. They are well-developed. You connect with them. They discover that there is more going on than they were told. The companies need to be brought under control. But what can Malcolm do? What does he want to do?

I give Titanborn 5 Stars out of 5 and Two Big Thumbs Up! This is one of the most complete, authentic,  and well thought out future scenarios that I have ever read. If you like any type of science fiction novels, you will not be able to put this book down, and when you get to the end, you will want more. Does Mr. Bruno plan on writing more books set in this world? I think that he needs to.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Titanborn by Rhett C. BrunoIn this gritty and innovative science fiction thriller in the vein of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, turmoil on one of Saturn’s moons rattles Earth’s most powerful citizens–and draws one planet-hopping rogue into a fight he never saw coming.

Malcolm Graves lives by two rules: finish the job, and get paid. After thirty years as a Collector, chasing bounties and extinguishing rebellions throughout the solar system, Malcolm does what he’s told, takes what he’s earned, and leaves the questions to someone else–especially when it comes to the affairs of offworlders.

But his latest mission doesn’t afford him that luxury. After a high-profile bombing on Earth, the men who sign Malcolm’s paychecks are clamoring for answers. Before he can object, the corporation teams him up with a strange new partner who’s more interested in statistics than instinct and ships them both off to Titan, the disputed moon where humans have been living for centuries. Their assignment is to hunt down a group of extremists: Titanborn dissidents who will go to any length to free their home from the tyranny of Earth.

Heading into hostile territory, Malcolm will have to use everything he’s learned to stay alive. But he soon realizes that the situation on the ground is much more complex than he anticipated . . . and much more personal.

Book Details

File Size: 1599 KB
Print Length: 209 pages
Publisher: Hydra (June 21, 2016)
Publication Date: June 21, 2016
Sold by: Random House LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B018CHA2RI
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
X-Ray: Not Enabled
Word Wise: Enabled
Lending: Not Enabled
Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

About the Author

cropped-rhett-picture-sliderI’m a Sci-fi/Fantasy author currently living in White Plains, New York. I’ve been writing since I can remember, scribbling down what I thought were epic short stories when I was young to show to my friends and family. When I reached high school I decided to take that a step further and write my first novel. After the encouragement of my favorite English teacher I decided to self-publish the “Isinda Trilogy” so that the people closest to me could enjoy my early work.

While studying architecture at Syracuse University I continued to write as much as I could, but finding the time during the brutal curriculum proved difficult. It wasn’t until I was a senior that I decided to finally pursue my passion for Science Fiction. After rededicating myself to reading works of the Science Fiction author’s I always loved, (Frank Herbert, Timothy Zahn, Heinlein, etc.) I began writing “The Circuit: Executor Rising”, The first part of what I hope will be a successful Adult Science Fiction Series.

Since then I’ve been hired by an Architecture firm in Mount Kisco, NY. But that hasn’t stopped me from continuing to work on all of the countless stories bouncing around in my head. I’m also taking classes at the New School in NYC in order to earn a Certificate in Screenwriting, in the hopes of one day writing for TV or Video Games.

A Review of Blood Flag by Steve Martini

Blood Flag (Paul Madriani #14)

by Steve Martini

Steve Martini departed a bit from his normal type of story when he wrote Blood Flag. Most of his stories concentrate on the court and law. He finds ways to prove that his client is innocent. In Blood Flag much of the plot centers around an international group of people who are intent on owning Hitler’s Blood Flag.

“The Blutfahne (pronounced [bluːtˈfaːnə]), or Blood Flag, is the Nazi German Swastika flag that was used in the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, Germany on 9 November 1923, during which it became soaked in the blood of one of the SA members who died. It subsequently became one of the most revered objects of the Nazi Party. It was used in ceremonies in which new flags for party organisations were consecrated by the Blood Flag when touched by it.” (From Wikipedia)

This flag was then prominently displayed throughout Hitler’s reign. It was thought to have been destroyed, but maybe not.

This is the fourteenth book in the series, but can be read as a standalone book. The characterization will come across as rather two-dimensional, but you won’t get lost. Even though Paul Madriani does have a client that is under suspicion of murder, much of the action is centered around the hunt for the killer of Paul’s assistant, Sofia, and search for the Blood Flag. There are some plot twists and unexpected events along with a few suspenseful sequences to keep you on your toes. I was completely surprised by the ending. Mr. Martini wrote one chapter so masterfully that I was totally fooled. I thought that one thing had happened, but it really was just the opposite. After rereading that chapter, I can see how I was deceived.

On the whole, this was an enjoyable book. I was engaged and interested in what was happening and I wanted to continue reading, even when I should have stopped. This book broke me out of my stupor. I hadn’t been able to get interested in most books recently. So I give a big thanks to Mr. Martini for that.

I give Blood Flag 4 Stars out of 5 and a Thumbs Up! I recommend it to anyone who likes their legal thrillers with a historic and international flavor.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Blood Flag by Steve MartiniDefending a client accused of killing her father, attorney Paul Madriani is drawn into a treacherous conspiracy dating to World War II in this enthralling installment in the New York Times bestselling series.

Paul Madriani and Harry Hinds have a new client: Emma Brauer, a woman accused in the “mercy killing” of her aged father, Robert Brauer. Insisting she’s innocent, Emma tells Paul about a package sent to her father shortly before he entered the hospital. Bequeathed to him by a member of his unit from World War II, the box contains a key and a slip of paper. Emma fears that this package is connected to her father’s death.

When Paul’s young assistant Sofia is murdered, Madriani is blindsided by the realization that Emma’s fears are well-grounded.

Digging into Robert’s military history, Madriani discovers that other members of the Army unit Robert served with have recently died—under similarly suspicious circumstances. When he finds that the box sent to Brauer relates to a mysterious talisman that went missing at the end of the war—a feared Nazi relic known as the “Blood Flag”—Madriani and Hinds realize they are in for the fight of their lives.

With Emma’s life on the line and their own safety in jeopardy, Madriani must uncover the truth before the evil of the Blood Flag is allowed to spin a new web.

Book Details

Series: Paul Madriani (Book 14)
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (May 17, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062328964
ISBN-13: 978-0062328960
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces

About the Author

Photo by Brian Smale
Photo by Brian Smale

Steve Martini is the author of numerous New York Times bestsellers, including The Enemy Inside, Trader of Secrets, The Rule of Nine, Guardian of Lies, Shadow of Power, Double Tap, and others featuring defense attorney Paul Madriani. Martini has practiced law in California in both state and federal courts and has served as an administrative law judge and supervising hearing officer. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.

A Review of The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

The Passenger

by Lisa Lutz

I would love to be a member of a book club that read The Passenger because then I could talk to people who have already read it. Right now I feel like I really can’t say much about it, because I might accidentally give something away. Read the book description below for an idea of what the book is about. It doesn’t give anything away.

I really liked the way this book is written. Ms. Lutz keeps us in the dark, while slowly putting little spots of light that gives us hints about where we are, while never illuminating the whole picture. It is kind of like the story of the six blind men and the elephant. Each part of the novel leads you to think that you have it figured out, but you can’t see that it is an elephant. Once you know about the elephant, it changes everything.

The identity changing characters in The Passenger feel alive. You can connect with them. They draw you into things and change your perceptions. You change as you read this book. You may never look at life in the shadows the same. It seems like it could happen to anyone. I hope it doesn’t.

I give The Passenger 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up! If you like reading any kind of fiction, you really should give this book a read. You are going to be amazed.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

the-passenger-lisa-lutzFrom the author of the New York Times bestselling Spellman Files series, Lisa Lutz’s latest blistering thriller is about a woman who creates and sheds new identities as she crisscrosses the country to escape her past: you’ll want to buckle up for the ride!

In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it . . . .

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret . . . can she outrun her past?

With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless.

Book Details

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (March 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451686633
ISBN-13: 978-1451686630
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces

About the Author

Photo by Morgan Dox
Photo by Morgan Dox

Lisa Lutz is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including the forthcoming thriller, The Passenger (Simon & Schuster, March 2016), How to Start a Fire, six novels in the Spellman books series, and Heads You Lose, co-authored with David Hayward. She is also the author of the children’s book, How to Negotiate Everything, illustrated by Jaime Temairik. Lutz has won the Alex award and has been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel.

Although she attended UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, the University of Leeds in England, and San Francisco State University, she still does not have a bachelor’s degree. Lisa spent most of the 1990s hopping through a string of low-paying odd jobs while writing and rewriting the screenplay Plan B, a mob comedy. After the film was made in 2000, she vowed she would never write another screenplay. Lisa lives in the Hudson Valley, New York.

A Review of Gone Again by James Grippando

Gone Again (Jack Swyteck #12)

by James Grippando

Mr. Grippando completes the circle with Gone Again. Jack Swyteck is back where he started in the first book in the series, The Pardon. He is back at the Freedom Institute. He says that he isn’t joining the team, just renting an office, but he gets drawn back into a death row case, when the victim’s mother, Debra Burette, talks to him when everyone else is down at the Florida State Prison. She is convinced that the man who is scheduled to die for her daughter’s rape and murder shouldn’t be executed because she is sure that her daughter, Sashi, is alive.

This is just the beginning of a book that is full of twists and turns. Many of the people in this book have secrets, and just when you think that you have them figured out something else happens to change your mind. As the story progresses, layer after layer of lies are torn away, until you reach the truth, a truth that you never expected, and could not have anticipated.

I like the Jack Swyteck series. I read The Pardon a long time ago, and I’ve read another couple since then. I like the Freedom Institute members. I hope that Jack sticks around there. He is a good fit. You don’t need to read this series in order, since each of the books stand on their own; but once you read Gone Again, you probably will want to read some of the earlier books.

I give Gone Again 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up. If you like multilayered legal mysteries, I think you will really like Gone Again.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Gone Again by James GrippandoIn this electrifying and fast-paced tale of suspense from the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Cash Landing, Cane & Abe, and Black Horizon, Miami criminal defense lawyer Jack Swyteck takes on his first death-row client since The Pardon in a case as twisty as it is shocking.

Sashi Burgette vanished three years ago on her way to school. The night after the teenager’s disappearance, ex-con Dylan Kyle was stopped for drunk driving. An article of Sashi’s clothing was found in his truck, and a police videotape of his drunken explanation under interrogation sealed his fate at trial. Now, just days from Kyle’s execution, Sashi’s mother visits Jack Swyteck, doing pro bono work at the Freedom Institute, and delivers shocking news: “Sashi called me.”

The police dismiss the call as a cruel hoax. The State Attorney refuses to consider the new evidence, insisting the case is closed. The governor has already signed the death warrant. An innocent man may be executed and time is running out—unless his lawyers can locate Sashi.

A man of principle who believes in justice, Jack jumps into the investigation. But the deeper he digs the more he discovers that nothing is what it appears to be. Not the victim. Not her alleged killer. And definitely not Sashi’s parents, whose grief ruptured their marriage, each openly blaming the other for what happened to their daughter.

As their gut-wrenching and hopelessly conflicting version of events unfolds in a Miami courtroom, it becomes clear there is something even more difficult to find than a long-missing girl . . .

The truth.

Book Details

Series: Jack Swyteck Novel
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Harper (March 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062368702
ISBN-13: 978-0062368706
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds

About the Author

Monica Hopkins photography
Monica Hopkins photography

James Grippando is a New York Times bestselling author of twenty-four novels. He was a trial lawyer for twelve years before the publication of his first novel in 1994 (The Pardon), and now serves as counsel at Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP. He lives in South Florida with his wife, three children, two cats, and a golden retriever named Max who has no idea that he’s a dog.