Mystery

All the Blue-Eyed Angels

All the Blue-Eyed Angels
Author:
Publisher:
Published: November 16, 2013
Jonestown. The Solar Temple. Heaven’s Gate. In the summer of 1990, the Payson Church of Tomorrow joins the ranks of those infamous cult suicides when thirty-four members burn to death on a small island off the coast of Maine. At ten years old, Payson member Erin Solomon watches helplessly as the church and its congregation are reduced to ash and embers. More than twenty years later, Erin is an accomplished investigative journalist when she receives word that she has inherited Payson Isle… and all its ghosts. She returns to Maine to learn the truth behind the tragedy that has haunted her since childhood, aided by the rakish mentor who’s stood by her side since she was a teenager, her trusty mutt Einstein, and a mysterious stranger with his own dark past. Soon, Erin is enmeshed in violence, conspiracy, and scandal, as she fights to unearth the secrets of the Payson Church of Tomorrow — secrets someone will kill to keep buried.

Reviewed by Tahlia Newland

All the Blue Eyed Angels wasn’t given to me in exchange for a review. I received it as a gift, so I read it as a kind of reviewer’s holiday, feeling a sense of relief that here was one book that I wouldn’t have to write a review about. However, I hadn’t read far before I realised that I would be writing a review after all, because the book is simply excellent and deserves to be praised loud and clear for all to hear.

Not only is it expertly written, it’s a great tale with an unpredictable plot that left me wanting the next instalment so much that as soon as I had finished it, I turned the internet on and bought it immediately.

It’s the kind of book that makes anyone who says that Indie books aren’t as good as mainstream books look either ignorant or an idiot, because this is every bit as good as the best that any mainstream publisher might produce, and it deserves to sell every bit as well.

Reporter Erin Solomon is a modern woman with a strange past. After being bequeathed the island where she lived as a child, one she hasn’t lived on for twenty years, she returns to unravel the mystery of a fire that killed 32 people. A package of photographs that came with the title deed indicate that whatever the truth was all those years ago, it was covered up with the full knowledge of several people, including her estranged mother. Erin intends to find out the truth and write a book about it.

She lived on the island in a cult with her father until she was nine, and though she remembers it as a good, safe time in her life, as the story progresses and she sees some of the events from a grown up perspective, she begins to question her childhood perception.

A thread of romance also weaves its way through the story; two men, two different relationships, and neither of them simple. Add the facts that people start dying from the time she begins her investigation, and that Erin’s parents are both well-involved in the cover-up, and it’s no wonder that Erin’s soon out of her depth. Slowly, the facts start to come together, but the real knowledge only comes along with a fairly catastrophic event. The pacing is flawless, building steadily to a riveting climax. The characters are complex, likable and expertly drawn.

If you enjoy contemporary mysteries, then you don’t want to pass on this one, and even if—like me—you don’t usually read mysteries, I highly recommend it. The romance softens the otherwise very gritty story.

All the Blue-Eyed Angels now holds the exclusive AIA seal of quality. It is available on Amazon.

 

The Butcher’s Block

480 The Butcher's Block
Publisher:
Published: August 1, 2017
During a routine patrol, police arrest two men in possession of human body parts intended for sale to the dissecting rooms of a London teaching hospital. Bow Street Runner and amateur pugilist Dan Foster makes the grisly discovery that they are the remains of fellow officer George Kean. The arrested men are charged with Kean’s murder, but Dan is not convinced that they are the killers. In pursuit of the real murderer, he investigates the unhallowed activities of the resurrection men – bodysnatchers. The bodysnatching racket soon leads Dan to something bigger and much more dangerous. In a treacherous underworld of vicious pugilists, ruthless murderers, British spymasters and French agents, Dan must tread carefully…or meet the same terrible fate as Kean. 'The Butcher’s Block' is the second Dan Foster Mystery. 'Bloodie Bones', the first in the series, was joint winner of the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016.

The Fatal Coin

The Fatal Coin
Published: May 16, 2017
Missing treasure. Murder. One ruthless criminal. And one Bow Street Runner determined to stop him. In the winter of 1794 Bow Street Runner and amateur pugilist Dan Foster is assigned to guard a Royal Mail coach. The mission ends in tragedy when a young constable is shot dead by a highwayman calling himself Colonel Pepper. Dan is determined to bring Pepper to justice, but the trail runs cold. Four months later Dan is sent to Staffordshire to recover a recently excavated hoard of Roman gold which has gone missing. Here he unexpectedly encounters Colonel Pepper again. The hunt is back on, and this time Dan will risk his life to bring down Pepper and his gang. 'The Fatal Coin' is a prequel to 'Bloodie Bones', the first Dan Foster Mystery, which was joint winner of the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies' Assessor

06 December 2017

5 Stars

Going into The Fatal Coin by Lucienne Boyce, I had not read any of the other Dan Foster mysteries and was meeting the character for the first time. I'm happy to say that this appears to be a series where a reader can jump in at any point and quickly catch up to what's going on. The protagonist is a likable, if rough-around-the-edges, detective who gives as much guff as he gets. Even without having the context which I'm sure the previous installment provided, Dan is the kind of character you will feel like you have met before, if not relate directly to yourself.

 

The story takes place in 1794 England and the historical atmosphere of the book is another highlight of this work. The author has a gift for painting beautiful set pieces that jump to life in the readers' imagination - and those who aren't already well-versed on 18th century England will also learn a few interesting facts. The world in which Dan inhabits complements him perfectly, and it's easy to imagine him emerging from the fog, ready to engage in fisticuffs with whomever opposes him.

 

As this is a novella, the book is very digestible, but the author does not sacrifice detail or rush the plot. While the story overall is short and will likely leave you hungry for more, there are other Dan Foster mysteries to satiate you. The adventure we're taken on reaches a satisfying conclusion while leaving clues for later works, and accomplishes the goal of making you interested in reading of Foster's other experiences. I give The Fatal Coin 5 stars and recommend it for inclusion in Awesome Indies.

Bloodie Bones

Bloodie Bones
Publisher:
Published: May 11, 2015
In 1796 Bow Street Runner and amateur pugilist Dan Foster is sent to Somerset to infiltrate a poaching gang suspected of murdering Lord Oldfield’s gamekeeper, Josh Castle. Dan has walked into a volatile situation: the locals are up in arms against Lord Oldfield for enclosing Barcombe Forest and depriving them of their rights to gather fuel and food. Against a background of vandalism, arson and riot, Dan discovers that there were others with a grudge against Josh. However, Lord Oldfield orders him to arrest the poachers. When Dan learns that Josh had a claim to the Oldfield estate his suspicions focus on Lord Oldfield. Before he can confront him, rioters attack Oldfield Hall protesting against the arrests. During the fight, Dan finds himself at the mercy of the local doctor and realises that he and Josh were rivals in love. Dan narrowly escapes death and arrests the murderer: Doctor Russell.  

Reviewed by Awesome Indies' Assessor

May 18, 2014

 

When Lord Oldfields, a magistrate and wealthy landowner, asks for assistance to determine who murdered his gamekeeper, Josh Castle, Foster’s superior dispatches him to the small village. Disguising himself as a wandering itinerant, Foster becomes part of the gang of poachers who are Lord Oldfields’ real targets. In the process, he uncovers deeds from the past, some so evil that their perpetrators will do anything—including murder—to keep them hidden.

Lucienne is a masterful storyteller, skillfully weaving history, culture, and the social customs of the period into the story in a natural manner that not only piques the reader’s interest, but helps the reader with a watchful eye and attentive mind to figure out whodunit.

This story has a profound theme. The injustices perpetrated upon the poor by the privileged, how people react to events over which they have little or no control, and the importance of integrity and empathy in alleviating the human condition.

Not one word in this story is wasted, and it is told in a manner that both entertains and educates—the true sign of a master wordsmith. Extremely well edited, I could not find one comma or semicolon out of place, and unlike books by some of today’s bestsellers, no misspellings or grammatical glitches—nary a one.

Unlike many books I read, which are good stories, but contain a few formatting or other errors, making it impossible for me to give them a top rating in all honesty, I found nothing here that gives me pause; and, I re-read several passages just to make sure. Actually, I have to get personal here and say that I re-read several passages because I found the prose so entertaining, I just wanted to go back over it to enjoy reading truly great writing.

I found everything about this book engrossing, from a cover that conveyed in stark symbolism the theme of the story, to passages that glistened with brilliance. The characters were magnificently portrayed. Dan Foster, the protagonist, is totally captivating—from his willingness to face his own weaknesses, to his devotion to right and justice, but most compelling, his sense of honor and decency. Even the secondary characters were fully fleshed and well-rounded, creating a setting that made me feel that I was there. I could see, hear, and smell the surroundings, and sense what characters were thinking and feeling in a story that was impossible to put down once I started reading.

An easy five stars.

Dead Wood

Dead Wood
Categories: ,
Publisher:
Published: June 17, 2014
Dundee International Book Prize winner 2009 Award winning crime novel set in Dundee, Scotland, A mystery and detective story which is a combination of police procedural, and woman in jeopardy. Book 2 of The Dundee Crime Series, with the popular DS Bill Murphy. Kara owes money to Dundee gangster Tony and takes to the streets to earn the cash. She narrowly escapes the clutches of a killer on the prowl, but stumbles across the bodies of his other victims. Hunted by the serial killer and the gangsters, Kara goes on the run. DS Bill Murphy teams up with newcomer, DC Louise Walker in the murder investigation. But Murphy is heading for a breakdown and it is up to Louise to catch the killer. One of the murder victims is the daughter of Dundee gangster, Tony, and he vows revenge. He is determined to mete out his own kind of justice to the killer. Who will find the killer first? Tony or the police. And what will happen to Kara? In the end what kind of justice will prevail?

Reviewed by Kevin J. Hallock

4.5, rounded up to 5. Dead Wood was a fast-paced murder mystery that kept me guessing throughout the story. The main characters were well-drawn, with histories, personal ambitions, likes, dislikes, and all operating in the gray ethical areas that make characters interesting. I like the way the murderer was handled throughout the story, and the crimes themselves were different from typical mysteries. All around, a fun read that I would recommend to people who enjoy mysteries.

A minor quibble was the number of point-of-view characters. There were too many for my personal tastes. But it is just a quibble. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

I received this book free from Awesome Indies Books in return for an honest review.

 

Reviewed by Adan Ramie

Dead Wood by Chris Longmuir is a crime thriller centered around a serial killer whose orders come from a forest haunted by memories of victims past. It’s book #2 of the Dundee Crime series, but it works pretty well as a standalone.

Longmuir’s story is bleak. Most of the characters are sleazy, immoral, or downright evil, and there are A LOT of characters. One of my complaints about Dead Wood is the number of point-of-view characters whose personalities aren’t unique enough to differentiate them. It was confusing at first, and I didn’t really get interested in how the story would turn out until over halfway in.

Although I had problems getting into Dead Wood, I did enjoy the last third of the story. It was gripping, powerful, and kept me reading until the end. The conclusion, however, took some of the wind out of my sails; it was abrupt, and I thought some of the character reactions were unbelievable.

I gave Dead Wood three out of five stars; the story itself was a good one, despite its faults.

 

 

A Salt Splashed Cradle

A Salt Splashed Cradle
Life and Love in 1830s Scotland. Set in a Scottish fishing village the story reflects the living conditions and morals of the ordinary fisher folk of that time.   Life and Love in 1830s Scotland. When Jimmie Watt brings his new bride home his parents are horrified, because fishermen are expected to marry within their own community, and Belle is an incomer from the town across the water. Belle, an emotionally damaged and beautiful girl, struggles to find acceptance in the village but she is fighting a losing battle, and when Jimmie leaves the fishing village to sail to the Arctic with a whaling ship, she becomes increasingly isolated. With Jimmie gone, Belle falls for the charms of Lachlan, the Laird’s son and embarks on a tempestuous affair with him. When Jimmie returns she struggles with her feelings for him and for Lachlan. The women in the village now regard Belle as a Jezebel who will tempt their men away. A mood of hysteria engulfs them and they turn against Belle, in an attempt to force her out of the village. What will Belle do? And will she survive? This historical saga is set in a Scottish fishing village in the 1830’s and reflects the living conditions and the morals of the ordinary fisher folk of that time.

Generation

Generation
A grotesque figure emerges from the sodden undergrowth; lost, lonely and starving it is mown down by a speeding car on the edge of a remote forest. Ghostly apparitions haunt a rural Northumberland community. A renowned forensic scientist is troubled by impossible results and unprecedented interference from an influential drug company. Hendrix ‘Aitch’ Harrison is a tech-phobic journalist who must link these events together. Normally side-lined to investigate UFOs and big-beast myths, but thrust into world of cynical corporate motivations, Hendrix is aided by a determined and ambitious entomologist. Together they delve into a grisly world of clinical trials and a viral treatment beyond imagining. In a game of escalating dangers, Aitch must battle more than his fear of technology to expose the macabre fate of the drugged victims donated to scientific research.

Reviewed by Alexes Razevich

AIA Reviewer

A Fast-Paced Story That Will Stretch Your Imagination

Four Stars.

What do you get when you combine a medical/crime thriller with science fiction/horror? A creepy yet compelling page-turner of a book. Told from multiple points of view, including several characters who are undead but not your stereotypical zombies, Generation takes us into a world of corporate greed, gene manipulation, and people desperate either to live or to die. I can’t attest to the accuracy of the science in Generation, but Knight makes it sound entirely plausible. Anyone who has ever worked in an office will recognize the truth of the politics, even if a character or two carry it to the extreme.

In fact, the villains are one of the few disappointments of the novel. The journalist who discovers a story much bigger than the one he set out to cover, the forensic scientist/teacher focused on her work, the National Enquirer-type journal editor, and other characters are nuanced and ring true. The chief villain, sadly, is the stop-at-nothing type we’ve seen too often. The best, most poignant characters are the undead, each of whom deals with his or her fate the best they can.

The other disappointment is a gratuitous sex scene that leaves the two main characters naked during the climactic (not that kind of climax) scene. The romance between them seems more grafted on than natural, and their sudden falling into bed together unlikely. The author could have sent them to have coffee at her flat and the plot wouldn’t have changed.

Still, the novel worked for me, and I would have given it five stars were it not for the clichéd villain, the unnecessary sex scene, a few info dumps, a couple of typos, and some weird hyphenation. I give it a solid four stars and recommend the book to readers who want a fast-paced story that will stretch their imaginations.

Vingede

Vingede
A possibly schizophrenic adolescent boy who speaks mysterious, rhyming riddles… a mute teen girl who can only communicate through art and has an odd collecting habit… Two young people held captive by unrelated mental illness or is there a sinister connection between the cases – a swan song cry no one has yet heard? When former novitiate turned PI, Tobias Berger, is hired by the foster father of a teen whom his unusual new client believes may have knowledge of an undiscovered crime, the private eye finds himself immersed in two cases stranger and darker than the one which introduced him to his current secretary, a young woman who’s much more to him than an employee. As the pieces in an eerie puzzle come together and the couple begins a relationship that Tobias has been hesitant to let take flight, the two discover that the supernatural is far from done with them and that the mystical may well be at work in more than one aspect of their lives. Another fairy tale mystery in which the paranormal proves itself business as usual.

Reviewed 

An Excellent and Eerie Mystery

The second of Krisi Keley’s Friar Tobias mysteries is even better than the first. Once again the author’s background in linguistics and theology provides the unique material for this superb supernatural mystery.

A man seeks Tobias’s help for his foster son. He thinks the child may have witnessed a crime, but the boy has a speech problem due to either autism or schizophrenia, so no one can understand him. Like Ms Keley, Tobias has a degree in linguistics which is why the man seeks him out. Paolo speaks in poetry and makes obscure references to what Tobias eventually figures out is an old fairy tale about a girl and her eleven brothers that are turned into swans by a wicked witch. He senses that someone is in trouble, but who?

Tobias’s friend, the psychiatrist priest, wants him to meet a mute and apparently traumatised girl who has turned up in a hospital and, in what appears to be sheer coincidence, her sketches indicate that she fills the role of the girl in the fairy tale. But where are her eleven brothers? And how does Paolo know all this? This description is a gross simplification of a story with many subtleties, but as with all good mysteries, our suspicions are aroused and the pieces come together at the end.

Ms Keley manages to imbue her mystery with more than just the supernatural. As with all her books, questions of spirituality are at the core of the story. Tobias is a staunch Catholic. He believes in leaving sex until marriage, so his girlfriend, Samantha, who he met in his last case, must wait with him, and this provides some interesting topics of conversation. The nature of the crime and how it reflects present day morals is also a matter of thought-provoking reflection on Tobias’s part, but both these issues sit quite naturally in the story simply because of who Tobias is.

Ms Keley is a master of the English language. Her prose flows beautifully (though I did find the first sentence rather a mouthful) and she expresses subtle ideas succinctly and elegantly. The characters are charming with a delightful intelligent banter between Tobias and Samantha. The plot is interesting, the pacing never languishes and the editing is sleek.

Overall the book is an excellent and eerie mystery about a sick crime that needs a little supernatural intervention to bring the perpetrator to justice. This is a wonderful example of the kind of gems you’ll only find in independent fiction. It’s an entertaining, skilfully executed mystery, but it’s also different, deep and thought-provoking. I highly recommend it for those who like private investigator stories with supernatural and metaphysical elements.