Posts Tagged Murder

The Eye of the Idol – Paul Dayton

Storyline: We should all keep an eye on the Paul Dayton as his story, The Eye of the Idol, is surely the first out of many successful books.

The Eye of the Idol follows an incredible journey from the early 1600s to present day and impacts nearly every corner of the globe along its amazing journey and mystery.

The story starts with an obsession and a murder that leads to a series of unfortunate accidents and even more mysteries and murders. What could possibly be in that box that would mean the destruction and potential start of another world war?

Follow SIS agent Coleman, Detective Antonin and Professor Sanchez as they attempt to chase the clues to solve the mystery before it’s too late.

Storyline: Mr. Dayton would make any boring history class a lively and entertaining experience with his true talent of taking seemingly unrelated (and potentially boring) historical events and weaving them all together into a believable and compelling story.

Grammar/Spelling: I have a few, let’s call them quirks (I like that better than “ticks” because “ticks” implies that either I’m a little mad like the Hatter or I’ve been in the woods and forgot to check for those gross hitchhikers), one of which is the misuse of ethnic descriptors. I have a rule as it pertains to Asian peoples: If it’s a rug, it’s Oriental. If it’s a person, they’re Asian.

Of course, if the character is designed to be racist, then I can adjust the rule for that personality flaw, but I don’t think Mr. Dayton intended that when he wrote up this sentence: “Of those twenty, are any oriental looking?” I only noticed it once and it should be an easy fix.

Character Development: From the laidback Canadian agents, the oh-so-proper and well-prepared British SSI agent to the delusional North Korean agents, the characters are wonderfully developed. I even found the poor Jesuit priest who became obsessed with the Eye of the Idol easy to imagine – given I’ve met my fair share of fanatical Christians here in the south. (Not knocking those of the Flock – just saying I’ve met a few that kind of made me say, “Whhhhaaaaaaaat?!” and then quickly run away.)

Writing Style: His use of flashbacks and references to actual events and stories told from the point of view of someone going through the experience is fantastic. It really did seem like a movie. Maybe I lack the imagination to think beyond the reference of a movie with flashbacks, but dang it! That’s how I sees ‘em!

Continuity: No issues with continuity.

Overall Rating: 4

Diamonds. North Korean agents. British spies. Murder. Mystery. And even some Canadians. This story has it all.

Get out your Kindle, your Wikipedia and get to readin’ The Eye of the Idol. It’s sure to grab you by your scruff and shake some knowledge, action and adventure into ya!

A great read for everyone over the age of, let’s say, 14 because I have a hard time imagining my 6 year old son really following along with all of the historical references and there are some particularly violent situations, as well as adult language.

Great job, Paul! You’ve really knocked it out of the park with this one!

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Twists & Turns – A “Red Adept Reviews” Collection

Featuring: Jessica Billings, Brendan Carroll, T.L. Haddix, Lynn O’dell, C.S. Marks, John Philpin, Patricia Sierra, Michael Sullivan and J.R. Tomlin

Storyline: Well, what can I say? This anthology was full of twists, turns and surprises of the finest kind. Each author took their turn around the campfire and delivered perfectly!

For brevity’s sake, I’m going to see if I can fit the summary of ALL of the stories into one mega-sentence.

Ready? Here goes!

*deep breath*

A God machine, a were-pug, a terrible day at work, a klepto grandmother, the quest for perfection and understanding, an obsession, some shameful secrets, a hungry dragon and a do-over all await you in this gargantuan collection of greatness!

Grammar/Spelling: I hardly noticed any errors. I like to think it is due in large part to the magnitude of talent contained within this collection and due to the laser-like precision of Red Adept’s editing skills.

Building God – Jessica Billings: I can absolutely see why this story won first place. It was wonderfully written with a spectacular twist. It was supremely suspenseful and had a great Twilight Zone feel. It kept me almost distracted as I tried to figure out what would cause the spike and then drop in the number of people in the world so I had to keep reading to find out!

Should Have Seen it Coming – Brendan Carroll: At first, I really didn’t like Kurt. He was a complete and utter jerk. But, as the story progressively gets scarier and the suspense builds up, I found myself actually worried about Kurt and wondering what really happened to his puggins (doggie) and, oh yeah, his beloved. And I totally didn’t see it coming!

Granny Theft Auto – T.L. Haddix: Oh man…this one was awesome! I could absolutely imagine a small town (my hometown even!) turning a blind eye to the old woman’s thievery and her poor son… He was trying to do the best with what he had. I will say that it seemed as if the ending was a bit over-explained. I don’t believe that it needed as much of a wrap up as was given.

Fired – Lynn O’dell: Utterly and completely perfectly written short story. It was the perfect combination of build up and story only to end with a sudden bang. This could have really happened to anyone. The ending brought about a giggling fit only matched by those you’d get during church when you’re trying your best to focus on the sermon and not all of the crazy inappropriate things that just randomly pop into your mind at the wrong time.

Unbroken Mirror – C.S. Marks: This was a beautifully written fantasy epic and I really would love to read the full story. It really sounds like a gorgeous and amazing world. It does seem a bit long-winded and heavy for a short story though. Maybe if some of the back story was pared down a bit?

42jorie – John Philpin: Another great short story with a wonderful balance of suspense and surprise. I really got into Peter’s frustration and annoyance with the smug Marjorie. Of course, sometimes, you have to be very careful about what information you share on the Interwebz. It could really lead to some major problems.

Leo’s Wife – Patricia Sierra: This short story was very well-written and I’m sure it’s happened to more people than would care to admit. Another inappropriate giggle escaped me while at work. (You guys are SO going to get me in trouble!) I did figure it out about 2 or 3 sentences from the end. But, I think that was the author’s intent. Sort of an “oh my God” moment and then disbelief that it actually happened.

Traditions – J.R. Tomlin: Some traditions are meant to be broken and changed… I could really feel the terror and then determination of the girl as she resolutely set out to take control of her own fate. I felt every step she took and was really racking my ol’ grey matter trying to figure out what the sacrifice was all about. Of course, in the end, the story did end up asking some pretty important moral and ethical questions. Sacrifice for the greater good by staying the same or buck tradition and, for better or worse, change the world around you?

Overall Rating: 5+

You guys did an amazing job on these short stories! I really felt like each of you nailed the surprise twist and ending. I hope that each of you continue to churn out more short stories. What can I say? I’m greedy! I would also like for Lynn to be able to create a second anthology of greatness. Soooooo…get to it, y’all!

On a side note: I think we should ALL encourage Ms. Lynn O’dell (Red Adept, herself!) to write more for our viewing pleasure! Thank you so much for sharing, Lynn!

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Time In A Bottle – Christopher M. Divver

Storyline: Time In A Bottle written by Christopher M. Divver is not about genies, but it is pretty darned good as far as murder mysteries go. Mr. Divver’s story has all of the elements of a great crime mystery that goes all the way up to Washington D.C.!

Mark has fallen off the wagon again. Only this time, his girlfriend isn’t there to pull him out of the dark vat of that toxic drink again because it’s her sudden death that is the reason for his relapse. Only, Monica’s tragic death isn’t as simple as it first appears to be.

Her power-hungry half sister, Audra, comes back to town to help with the arrangements and with her arrival comes the resurgence of a terrible and haunting past that, even in death, Monica cannot escape from.

Grammar/Spelling: The Comma Queen strikes again! I noticed a deficiency of that little squiggle and think that another grammar check with Microsoft Word would fix these issues. I also noticed a few instances where the incorrect version of a word was used; for example: “shear” vs. “sheer”. Not a huge issue and one that’s easily fixed with another beta read.

Character Development: Mr. Divver’s characters are very well developed and Mark, in particular, has a depth to him that was surprising and wonderful.

At first it appears that Mark is just a self-pitying alcoholic without any real substance. Other than his incessant need for a drink or twelve, he has nothing to offer anyone or anything. But, as the story develops, the reader is able to truly see Mark for the man that he is and understand how his life has to come to the point that it has.

Even though we never truly meet Monica, per se, she is a prominent character throughout the story. Through a series of flashbacks, Monica is painted as scrappy, good-hearted woman who loved Mark and guided him back into the world of sobriety.

Writing Style: I was concerned that the entire novel would be a very dark, depressing drama about one man’s fight with the bottle. Though, as I kept reading, it became apparent that the alcoholism isn’t what the book was focused on, it was more about a man’s will to solve the mystery of his beloved’s death and do it while trying to overcome his addiction.

Time In A Bottle has enough detail to make it very believable and entertaining (even educational – I didn’t know you could pick a lock by “bumping” it!) without bogging the reader down with too many details! Fabuloso!

I loved the descriptions of Washington D.C. and, even though I’ve never been there, it seemed as if I was right there at the monuments with Mike, Audra’s boss and Frank, his best friend. I suppose one day I’ll actually go and take in the sights myself… Until then, I’ll just have to live vicariously through the eyes of my darling Indie Authors!

Continuity:  No issues with continuity. Everybody’s shirts stayed their proper colors and nobody drove away in a Mercedes only to arrive four blocks away in a helicopter.

Overall Rating: 4

Mr. Divver’s Time In A Bottle didn’t disappoint. (Even if there weren’t any genies or wishes granted.) As far as crime novels goes, this is a well written, interesting story with plenty of suspense and mystery to keep the reader engaged the entire time. Great job, Christopher!

I look forward to more books and hope you’ll allow me the pleasure of reviewing those as well! It definitely has the makings of a great movie too! (I never know if that’s a compliment or not…)

There are some adult situations and language, so this book isn’t for younger readers.

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The Cutting Edge – Darcia Helle

Storyline: Darcia Helle’s The Cutting Edge kept me right on the edge the entire time with her razor sharp wit and even sharper critiques of the main character’s agonizingly annoying hair salon clients.

We meet Skye at the peak (or would it be low point?) of her career as a small town hairstylist who has just about had it up to her eyeballs with the daily complaints, snarky comments and just general absurdity of her clientele. Skye begins to have morbid and detailed fantasies about giving her customers something to actually complain about.

And that’s when the murders begin. Someone is killing women and calling themselves The Mass Avenger. The killer claims to be righting the injustices of those who feel they’re entitled in this world.

The Cutting Edge is a quick, hard to put down and delicious read that’s absolutely hilarious and keeps the reader guessing until very nearly the end.

Grammar/Spelling: I noticed some very minor grammar/formatting discrepancies. Perhaps one more read-through from a beta reader would clear that up.

Character Development  Poor Lilly Skye Destiny Summers. All she wants to do is her job: cut, color and style hair and all she seems to get are women (and even men) who do nothing but complain about this, that and bacon fat. Now all Skye wants to do is commit hairstyle homicide with her surgically sharpened shears. Skye is very relatable because everyone has been there: the fake plastic smile; the underappreciated work; the selfish people that we must put up with in our daily lives…  How great would it be if we could really give some of those people a good what-for?! Ms. Helle makes it possible to live vicariously, somewhat, through Skye’s daily grin and bear it grind.

Diane is Scott’s (Skye’s husband) vindictive ex-girlfriend and mother of their now 18 year old daughter.  Her goal in life is to make Skye and Scott miserable by demanding them to fork over money for her selfish daughter’s life.  She is the epitome of a heinous hag and, needless to say, Skye has several fantasies of causing grievous harm to her as well. I’m not sure if Ms. Helle could have made her anymore perfectly terrible. Nearly anyone with a terrible ex can understand and truly feel this situation.

Writing Style: The Cutting Edge is told through the eyes of both Skye and an anonymous serial killer. This aspect helps push the story along without being bogged down too many details that can often happen in a first person narrative.

The story does have some graphic scenes (one of the main characters is a serial killer, you know!), but it has enough laughter throughout to more than make up for the dreadfulness of the killings.

Continuity:  I noticed no issues with the continuity.

Overall Rating: 4+

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who has just about had it with their service industry based job. Or just about anyone who has ever been underappreciated in their line of work. I would warn that this novel does have some adult themes, language and contains depictions of violence. The violence isn’t overwhelming nor is the imagery extremely detailed, it is there and it is realistic. I did have a few “Ohhh! *inward hiss*” moments as Ms. Helle described certain aspects of the serial killer’s choice of torture.

As I said before: for every horrendous act of the killer, there are multiple moments of genuine laughs. Ms. Helle did an excellent job and I look forward to reading more books in the future from her!

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Take the Monkeys and Run! – Karen Cantwell

Storyline: Well, Karen Cantwell, you’ve really nailed it with this crime-slash-mystery-slash-comedy-slash-romance story about a middle aged housewife with a boring life, an obsession with movies and monkeys in her yard. Take the Monkeys and Run is truly splendid!

Poor Barbara. She’s a newly single housewife that leads a rather dull life in a sleepy little cul-de-sac in rural Virginia. Well, it’s quiet until a moving van shows up in the middle of the night with a mysterious (and rather cheeky) cargo at the equally as mystifying empty house next door. After some cursory investigating, Barbara decides to call it a night and wakes up to some chattering monkeys in her trees!

As the mystery of the vacant house and the simian interlopers deepens, Barbara discovers that she and her well-intentioned friends may be in well over the heads! Barbara calls her ex boyfriend, Colt, a private investigator for a little back up. Colt arrives in town, unabashedly good looking and looking good at (maybe) filling the void recently vacated by her husband.

Barbara quickly becomes the center of a deadly cat and monkey game and must figure out a way to go from Sweet Suburban Mom to Super Hero Mom to save the day.

Grammar/Spelling: I noticed a few errors with punctuation throughout. As always, another thorough read through by a beta reader would probably take care of this.

Character Development: Oh Babs! She’s so sweet, naïve and innocent. She loves movies, dreams about making her directorial debut and even has a website dedicated to movie reviews. Well, sort of… She has yet to really make any true headway with it.

Ms. Cantwell really nails the modern day, stay at home mom who dreams big but is too afraid to follow through with those dreams. I loved how Barbara was able to turn almost any situation into a major motion movie with just her imagination. (I do this all of the time too! Glad to know that I’m not the only one!) She even picked out George Clooney to play her estranged husband. Barbara’s reactions to some pretty hairy situations were very realistic and quite hilarious.

Writing Style: The style was great it was very well written and flowed quite nicely. Ms. Cantwell really knows her pop culture and seems to have sort of opened up the door for her book to translate easily into a blockbuster movie!

There were some minor adult situations and adult language. (We’re talking mafia thugs here! Of course they have a less than savory vocabulary!)

Continuity:  No problems with continuity.

Overall Rating: 5

Overall Rating: Take the Monkeys and Run by Karen Cantwell could easily become one of my favorite books of all time. But, I won’t say that because then she might write something else and then I’d be made into a liar and I just can’t have that on my conscience! But, I will say it is definitely up there and I would whole-heartedly recommend this to anyone who enjoys mystery, mayhem and monkeys!

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Not What She Seems – Victorine Lieske

Storyline:

Victorine truly has a victory with this sweet romance/suspense story!

It started off really well and grabbed my attention right away; at times it was difficult to put down and I nearly missed my stop a couple of times on the way to work. (This would have definitely been no bueno because I am not a morning person and having to do any extra walking in the morning is not my idea of fun!)

The story is easy to follow, but there are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. At the end, it’s obvious what is really going on and, like any movie where the audience is supposed to figure it our before the main characters, you want to shake them and tell them what’s happening!

The ending was very nicely done and didn’t leave you wondering what happened to this or that character. Except, well, I wish it would have maybe been a tad bit longer just so that we could see how the wedding went.

Grammar/Spelling:

I noticed some minor grammatical errors and formatting issues. Though, I feel that neither of these took away from the overall enjoyment of Emily and Steven’s story. I have a feeling that the formatting issues are mainly due the literal format of the Kindle itself.

Character Development:

The characters were very well-developed, likeable and definitely relatable. They all seem like people I have known throughout my life. (Well, I haven’t known that many billionaires, but I can at least say I’ve known some decent folks like Steven.)

Emily is a beautiful, sincere woman and has done everything she could to keep her son safe. Richard also has moments of likeability and even seems to care a great deal for Emily. I also loved Rose’s attempts at match-making and her love for her stubborn husband is sweet; as is his mother’s interest in his love life and general happiness.

Writing Style:

I did have some issues with the lengths of the sentences. I understand that a short, choppy sentence is necessary and, at times, truly helps emphasize the urgency of certain aspects of the characters’ situations and story. But, I felt that there were many occasions when the sentences could have been combined for a much smoother reading experience.

Also, there were a few instances when it seemed as if the narrative leaned more towards a running inner-monologue. I thought that the differences in Steven’s outlook on the situation and Emily’s take on the same situation were executed wonderfully. I just felt, at times, that it was difficult to understand whose perception we were reading.

Continuance:

I did not notice any issues with continuity.

Overall Rating: 4+

Overall, I loved the story of two people running from either their past or daily life, only to have both of their lives coming screeching to the forefront of everyone’s life. I would give this book a solid 4.5 star rating and recommend it to anyone. I know exactly was Victorine meant by a “sweet romance” and hope that this genre really takes off!

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Isle Royale – John Hamilton

Storyline:

What do they call a Quarterpounder with cheese in France? A Cheeseburger Royale.

What do they call a good book about bootlegging? Isle Royale.

What? No Pulp Fiction fans in the house? Shameful!

Seriously though: John Hamilton’s action packed, bootlegging filled book, Isle Royale is really great! (AND it’s less fattening than a cheeseburger from McDonald’s.)

It’s the Roaring 20s and we all know what THAT means: Bootlegging! And the MacDougal family is caught up in the middle of Lebeck’s treachery as he uses their lighthouse on Lake Superior as his base of operations. Though, liquor isn’t the only thing on LeBeck’s mind; he is also after the heart of his former love, Colleen. He is determined to sweep her away from the island and her miserable life as the wife of Clarence, the lighthouse keeper.

Ian MacDougal is looking for some excitement in his life and his only friend on the island is Sally, the daughter of the assistant lighthouse keeper. Too bad we often never know what we’re truly asking for. Now, the two of them must figure out a way to save their families from the Lebeck’s thugs and get to the Coast Guard station during one of the worst storms in living memory.

The ghostly crew of the Chippewa might be their only hope for survival as Lebeck’s insanity grows and the storm threatens to tear everything apart.

Grammar/Spelling: No issues with grammar or spelling.

Character Development: Oddly enough, my favorite character was Jean Lebeck. This poor guy. He left his love to go fight a war for a country that he didn’t support and even though he survived to tell about it, it left him twisted and evil. Mr. Hamilton uses a series of letters written to Colleen to show the downward spiral from a sweet, ideological man into a shell-shocked, self-loathing person. Even at his most insane, he only wanted the love of Colleen to fill the void where his humanity had once been.

Writing Style: Isle Royale was chock full of maritime knowledge and boat information. Even though I’m ex-Air Force and as far-removed from the Navy as a person can be, I was still able to follow even the most in-depth information that Mr. Hamilton presented. Impressive – given that I can only name a handful of planes (like…um…4?) that I have done weather support for and now I’m pretty sure I could pick out a dinghy without much trouble. I’m so proud of me.

Continuity:  No worries here either. (It’s like this guy’s got talent or something… Sheesh!)

Overall Rating: 4+

Isle Royale written by the extremely gifted John Hamilton was a sharp adventure story with just enough romance to balance out all of the explosions and such. This was another tale that had me glued to my computer screen. I didn’t realize that I had read it so quickly until I was done with it.

One thing to note: I’m not entirely sure it’s quite YA because of the language though… But, I may be a fuddy-duddy.

Overall, it was seriously a great read and I recommend it to just about anyone (the language thing being the only reason it’s not for everyone). Great job, Mr. Hamilton!

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