suspense

The Obsession

The Obsession
The Obsession is a vibrant novel of suspense and murder, by turns intriguing and surprising, as three smart, driven people match wits with their lives at stake. When Stan, an American grad student falls for Lina, a lovely Italian scholar, his unrequited passion turns perverse. When he follows her from a mid-west college town to Bologna’s ancient streets, they are joined by John, Lina’s American lover and Stan’s mentor. Their love-lust triangle re-ignites, and they flee and chase down the storied Italian boot to a shocking conclusion on volcanic Mt. Etna.

The Car Bomb

The Car Bomb
Detroit’s top TV anchor Frank DeFauw hunts down the story of a judge who may be corrupt—and is one of his best friends. Booze, drugs, womanizing and a passion for the news are all part of what makes this brilliant, erratic newsman a major player in this deeply troubled city. Finally, Frank is forced to decide if digging out the truth about his pal the judge is worth risking his own career, family and skin. With supple prose, brilliant dialogue, sharply-drawn characters and a surprising plot, this is a gripping tale of betrayal, murder and redemption.

Reviewed 

A Noir Mystery With A Slight Twist

3 Stars

The Car Bomb by T.V. LoCicero opens on the streets of a dying Detroit that’s trying desperately to survive. A young mother and her two children are incinerated in a fiery explosion as witnesses watch in horror. It’s up to an aging, hard-drinking, womanizing news anchor to come to grips with his life and solve the crime which may involve his best friend. The tale builds to an edgy crescendo of action that you won’t want to miss.

Although the story is well-told, there are still some aspects that could have used work, and became impossible to ignore. The first half of the book is slow, concentrating on the character of a conceited, adulterous newscaster, Frank DeFauw. However, I missed the motivation that drives him to rise above his depravity in order to righteously go after his best friend who was only vaguely suspected of illegal activities.

The story is told to the reader which doesn’t give us much opportunity to get involved inside the plot or imagine ourselves as part of the drama. I wanted to feel what it was like to be in Detroit’s ghetto, hear the cries of those society has cast aside, smell the gas fumes rising above the sidewalks, see a poet’s graffiti scribbled across a rundown cityscape, and taste the merchandise dealers were pushing on the street corner.

In spite of its faults, it’s worth a read. The Car Bomb is a noir mystery with a slight twist. The lascivious characters are found in the lap of suburbia while the moral prize-winners emerge from the bleak, sleazy side of town. This book should appeal to fans of old-fashioned crime fiction.

3 Stars.

A Lifetime Last Night

A Lifetime Last Night
Every choice has a consequence, a notion Richard Dunham refuses to acknowledge even as his twenty-five-year marriage to college sweetheart Emily falls apart. Forced into a homeless shelter when Emily throws him out, Richard has an unexpected encounter with an eccentric old man who offers him a rare opportunity. A fatal accident leaves Richard between two worlds, but he refuses to leave this one before making things right with Emily. Left with only one option, he embarks on a mission to reclaim the heart of the only woman he’s ever loved, while trapped in the body of a man she’s never met – the man involved in her husband’s death. With time running out, Richard must navigate a minefield of obstacles that stand in the way of reclaiming everything he once held dear. A shocking discovery offers hope, but is it too late? Will Richard let his past determine his future, or will he discover that it is never too late to be what he might have been?

One Last Lie

One Last Lie
Author:
Published: December 30, 2014
Angela is beautiful and charismatic on the outside. But on the inside, a demon rages, determined to get anyone and anything she wants. And now with her biological clock ticking, she seduces her old friend Philip, and his partner Jonathan, into having a child with her through artificial insemination. From the moment the parenting agreement is signed, Angela’s mask of deceit slips away and she leads the fathers-to-be on a relentless, agonizing journey filled with lies, anguish and finally tragedy that forever changes the lives of everyone involved.

Admission of Guilt

Admission of Guilt
A 12-year-old girl is the desperate focus of three men–John, a dedicated young teacher, Charlie, a small-time private detective, and Steven, a major narcotics importer. Their lives collide when John makes a shocking move to save his students from the city’s drug wars, Steven’s young daughter goes missing, and Charlie, hired to find her, confronts a moral dilemma that will change all their lives.

Lies of the Dead

Lies of the Dead
Published: June 26, 2013
What would you risk to find the truth? When Liam disappears in a suspected suicide, his brother Tom is propelled into a world of lies and crime. Liam’s legacy of deceit is dangerous, and when Tom and his sister Andi find themselves in a dangerous showdown, Tom realises the truth may have too high a price. How well do we know those closest to us? When the police accept Liam’s disappearance as suicide, his older brother Tom needs to know more. Tom and his sister Andi search for answers, but don’t know who they can believe as they discover Liam’s friends and associates aren’t the people they claim to be. They are propelled into a world where their ideas of right and wrong don’t exist, and where people demand what neither of them possesses. Liam’s legacy of deceit is dangerous, and when Andi and her twin daughters find themselves in a dangerous showdown, Tom realises the truth may have too high a price. What would you risk to find the truth?

Reviewed 

 

Great Scenes & Well-Written Passages

Lies of the dead is an enjoyable mystery that becomes a thriller at the end. The book held me as I read to find out what Tom and Andi’s brother had been doing to warrant them being hounded after his death by a crime boss and his thugs. I soon found myself caring about the characters, who were ordinary people and easy to relate to. Would they get out of this difficult situation, and if so, how?

Tom thought he knew his brother Liam, but after his apparent suicide, he discovers that much of what he knew of Liam was a lie. I can’t say what Liam had been up to to get a huge debt to a crime boss without giving the mystery away, but I can say that the boss transfers the debt to the dead man’s family (Tom and Andi) and that the race to find the money and escape the thugs throws Tom and Andi’s life into turmoil. They find themselves faced with decisions that no one should be forced to make and doing things way outside their comfort zone.

Tom is a simple fellow who lives in a small sea-side village and earns his money renting out his boat. His sister, mother of teenage twin girls, lives elsewhere and is estranged from her husband. Her relationship, or lack of it, adds another thread to the story.

There is a lot to recommend this story. The plot is well constructed; the characters are well drawn; their dialogue and interactions are realistic, and the action scenes are engaging. The author builds the tension well throughout and culminates in a situation worthy of a novel. It’s an easy, undemanding read, simply entertaining with no pretensions, and as that, it works well, but if you’re looking for anything with deep themes, bold statements, or a creative vision, this isn’t it.

The characters develop well as the story progresses, reacting to events as you imagine that they would, and the spark between Janine and Tom is a nice touch in amongst the difficulties. The romantic aspects, though fairly minimal, allow for a satisfying ending.

The book has some great scenes and well-written passages. When I first read this, the prose suffered from bouts of passive writing, but the author attended to these issues after I mentioned them to her. The copy-editing is clean.

All up, this is a very enjoyable read.

Reviewed by Amy Spahn

This is a fabulous story. Bickley paints beautiful backdrops in which to set her books, and this is no exception. When the characters are on the shore, you can smell the salt water.

The characters are realistic and well-drawn, and you quickly come to care about their family struggles as you would for the worries of a close friend. Bickley seems to specialize in taking ordinary individuals with ordinary problems, and putting them in extraordinary circumstances that challenge them without minimizing the importance of their everyday struggles. This book is a mystery, but it is also an exploration of relationships and parenting, and it interweaves both themes flawlessly.

The plot moves quickly and keeps the pages turning right from the beginning. The subplots integrate smoothly and seamlessly, leading to a believable, if not completely comfortable conclusion.

All in all, a great read for fans of mysteries and/or family dramas.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Glade

The Glade
You are being arrested for the murder of your husband… You have a secret you can’t tell…The evil is gathering… The Wenstrops have it all: health, wealth and happiness. But then it all begins to fall apart. Helen is arrested for murder, yet is either unable or unwilling to give a defence. During her detention, vital evidence goes mysteriously missing and tensions are running high. Helen finds herself surrounded and yet alone: not knowing who she can trust or how she can tell her enemies from her friends. Helen has to work through her self-doubts and fears, in order to know whether her suspicions and misgivings are valid or simply products of an overwrought mind. There are those who would like to encourage her confusion, and those who would help her – but how to know one from the other? And then there are those who actively mean her harm. Meanwhile, malignant forces in the forest are gathering power, ready for a final assault. Helen finds herself in a battle of life and death, and faces having to lose everything in her attempts to thwart the evil that has insinuated itself into her very existence – but is she ready to make the ultimate sacrifice? This sensational second novel by acclaimed author Harmony Kent will have you alternately laughing, crying and gripping the edge of your seat as this roller coaster ride of a plot unfolds. It will keep you guessing through its many twists and turns, and hijack your attention right up until you turn the final page. This book has it all: murder, intrigue, the supernatural, a broken marriage, a love affair, courage against impossible odds, suspense, and high drama.

Reviewed by  

The Glade is basically a supernatural suspense story. It’s different, intriguing and totally unpredictable.

Like many indie works this book crosses genres. The supernatural element puts it in the fantasy category, but apart from The Presence that Helen and Geoff, her husband, feel in their little glade in the Forest of Dean and the dead people who get up and walk, it all happens in the fairly ordinary world of a small country village. It’s this low key approach that makes the story all the more chilling because we can’t immediately dismiss it as a fantasy world. This real world basis means that the book also fits into the mystery and suspense categories. There isn’t so much fantasy that it would turn off those who aren’t generally fantasy readers, and there’s plenty of mystery and suspense for fans of those genres. Kent’s characters and the world she creates around them are very real, but beneath this ordinary exterior lies a dark underbelly.

Helen has cancer and she and her husband retire to the Forest of Dean to live out her remaining days. Things do not go as they expect, however, and the author takes the reader on a roller coaster ride to find out the truth behind the strange events, and then to work out how to destroy the menace that has haunted the village for generations.

The story is extremely well done in terms of plot and pacing. I never knew what would happen next, was often surprised and always keen to keep reading. The characterisation was excellent. I got to know Helen quickly and soon became concerned for her. Though Geoff was a bit of a mystery, it worked for the story because Helen also discovers that she never really knew her husband. Mike and John were well-rendered and were both lovely characters, and Sheila also came across loud and clear.

I was particularly impressed by how Kent handled the backstory. We moved seamlessly from past to present until they coincided, and the backstory never felt like backstory. Beginning the story, as she did, part way through, created an added layer of mystery as we wonder now Helen got to the point where she took her husband’s life. Another thing the author did well was to feed the information out at the right pace, just enough crumbs to keep you reading, but never too much at once, and she left the real revelations until right at the end, exactly as a good mystery should be.

Endings can make or break a novel, and in this case, the end was its crowning glory and made it much more than just an ordinary suspense story. I was concerned about it for some time as the end grew near, wondering it if would leave me miserable – it could easily have gone either way. Of course, I’m not going to tell you whether it did or not, but I will say that I thought the end was magnificent.

Some of the phrasing I found strange, but I think that’s because it’s local lingo – the author is English.

I like the cover too; it does a good job of expressing the feel of the book. I recommend it for those who enjoy a good supernatural suspense story.

It’s really worth a read.

Review by S M Spencer

This is an excellent book – the perfect mix of mystery, thriller, horror, fantasy & even a touch of romance. Couldn’t put it down. Probably not a good book to take on a camping trip to an isolated forest however 🙂

5 stars for sure.

The Lupane Legacy

Lupane Legacy, The
A story of international intrigue, of the ghosts of Africa’s history, of tangled family ties, of betrayal, revenge, and redemption, and of two people finding a new start. In 1983 Patrick Khumalo, a five-year-old boy out gathering firewood for his mother in rural Zimbabwe, is the only survivor of one of Robert Mugabe’s notorious Gukurahundi massacres. White Rhodesian settlers who live nearby take the traumatized child in and raise him with their own children. In 2012, Patrick is an archivist for Robert Mugabe’s government. Everyone knows him as the ideal public servant, removed from politics and passion. But Patrick has a secret life, into which he draws Constance, the impulsive, idealistic girl he grew up with, now a classical violinist living in Austria. On the other side of the world, in Washington, D.C., ex-Marine Joshua Denham is trying to find his feet in civilian life as a newly wealthy man with political aspirations. At an Austrian Embassy concert where his cousin Constance is performing, a woman who’s been haunting him for the past year—a private banker he last saw in Kyrgyzstan—sits down at the end of his row. Perhaps he’s found what he was looking for . . . but Devon isn’t quite what she seems. Constance is acting strangely, too. After she leaves abruptly for the airport, Joshua gets a desperate call from her estranged father, Roger: Constance is in trouble. Joshua flies to meet Roger in South Africa, only to find that Roger has his own dark secret. Devon finds herself drawn after them to an abandoned farmhouse in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland District, and an explosive reckoning with the ghosts of the Rhodesian Bush War. The Lupane Legacy, the first in a series of novels of international suspense and intrigue, is a thriller for the thinking reader, a nuanced exploration of the history of postcolonial Africa as well as of Beltway politics and diplomacy. It’s a story of tangled family ties, of betrayal, revenge, and redemption, and of two people finding their way toward each other, and a new beginning.

Reviewed by Tahlia Newland
October 14, 2014

As a writer, I was told to keep a nice balance between narrative, description and dialogue. That including a lot of the former, along with a lot of backstory, really drags the reader through the experience and slows the pace down to nothing.

And yet here we are giving the Lupane Legacy five stars.

The Lupane Legacy begins with a brutal village massacre somewhere in the depths of Zimbabwe, just after it had stopped being named Rhodesia. A small boy, Patrick Khumalo, remains the lone survivor of the ordeal. Across the world, in Washington DC, Joshua Denham attends a concert held by the Austrian embassy where his cousin, Constance Traun is a renowned violinist. There, he again meets none other than Devon Kerr, a banker who first met him in Afghanistan, during his tour with the Marines. Patrick, now in Zimbabwean Intelligence years and years later, one day receives the package he has been waiting his whole life for: a film reel of what happened in his village when he was five.

The book continues thus, with two parallel lines on two different continents, until out of the blue Patrick calls Constance; they must meet in person.

The Lupane Legacy carries the reader along smoothly, a page-turner that kept me up nights trying to figure out just how everything would play out. The narrative reveals a lot about the author’s education, it’s full of choice imagery, the vocabulary is lush and full, and expects the reader to read between the lines often. Slow as narrative generally goes, this book hits a good stride and doesn’t let up even after the explosive climax.

Readers of thrillers and mysteries beware: while this book is an excellent one, in terms of historical fiction and even literary fiction, there isn’t as much action as one would expect. Most of the book is building characters and explaining the political situations of the present and the past for various different countries. The characters are real, the dialogue never trite or cardboard, and the description is handled with the same effortlessness as the narrative, though one could ask for a tad more in some places.

If there was one gripe about the book, it was that it sailed over my head in a few places. Movie, music and literature references expect the reader to be familiar with a lot of classics, and for a vast majority of readers, that simply won’t be the case. It was possible to surge past this, but I felt certain that my enjoyment and experience with the story was lacking something in not understanding these.

In addition, this book contains a preview of the second book in the series, the Pyin Protocol. I’m definitely keen to read further adventures of Joshua and Devon, to see what’s in store further down the road.

Thank you for the read, Darby.