Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review: Terminal City by Linda Fairstein

Terminal City



Terminal City by Linda Fairstein

Dutton Adult

June 17, 2014

ISBN-10: 0525953884

ISBN-13: 978-0525953883

384 pages

A wickedly intelligent thriller

International bestseller Linda Fairstein’s newest novel, starring Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper, is a winner on every level. A wickedly intelligent thriller that crawls through the underbelly of NYC as well as the courts and law enforcement agencies of the Big Apple. Alexandra is a wonderful series character that reflects Fairstein’s own career as Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit for the Manhattan DA’s Office. She knows of what she writes. This story begins with a carved-up corpse in a high-dollar suite at New York’s posh Waldorff Astoria Hotel. And from there it only gets worse. A thrill ride that is not to be missed.

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Posted by on June 26, 2014 in Book Review, Writing


Book Review: THE FARM by Tom Rob Smith

The Farm


The Farm by Tom Rob Smith

Grand Central Publishing

June 3, 2014

ISBN-10: 0446550736

ISBN-13: 978-0446550734

368 pages

If you refuse to believe me, I will no longer consider you my son.

Tom Rob Smith is a great storyteller. Hie first novel, Child 44, was an amazing work of fiction that won much critical acclaim, including the Thriller Award. He completed that trilogy with two other excellent books: The Secret Speech and Agent 6. The Farm is another great story.

From a technical, writerly point of view, this is an interesting work. A small story with big themes, it is essentially told entirely in narrative form—-yet it reads like action, dialog, and all the other elements of storytelling. The first 80% is essentially a mother telling her son a story. Don’t let that fool you. The story races along and once you begin, you can’t put it down. That’s great writing.

Daniel is preping for a trip from London to rural Sweden to visit his parents, Chris and Tilde, on their new farm. He has put off the trip to avoid telling his family of his lover Mark. A relationship he is sure they will not approve of. But when his father calls, saying the his mother is ill, mentally ill, he must now make the trek he has avoided. But before he can climb on his flight, he receives a message from his father that Tilde has left the mental hospital and is headed to London. And indeed she arrives.

Back in his apartment, Daniel does the listening, his “mum” Tilde the telling. And what a tale. A story of child abuse, betrayal, and murder. A conspiracy involving the rich and powerful and even his father. But is it true? Could it all have really happened as Tilde describes? Is his mother insane as so many say, including his father.

As the “telling” unfolds, the reader will be whiplashed back and forth. Is the evidence Tilde posses in her satchel proof of unspeakable crimes or are they meaningless bits that are only evidence in his mother’s mind?

This story will stay with you long after you read the final page.

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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Book Review, Writing


Book Review: Her Last Breath by Linda Castillo

Her Last Breath


Her Last Breath by Linda Castillo

Minotaur Books

June 18.2014

ISBN-10: 0312658575

ISBN-13: 978-0312658571

320 pages

. . . murder and mayhem among the peaceful world of the Amish . . .

Painters Mill’s police chief Kate Burkholder is back in this wonderful tale of murder and mayhem among the peaceful world of the Amish. Kate, raised in this world, long ago left for the secular world of law enforcement, and is now confronted with a murder of diabolical proportions. The story opens with a horrible accident. An Amish father and his children, returning home in their horse-drawn buggy, are demolished by a speeding car that flees into the night. A scene that is so harrowingly rendered it’s as if the reader is an eyewitness.

But was it an accident? Or was it a murder of horrific proportions? If so, why? What’s the payoff for annihilating these innocents? Nothing is apparent and as Kate digs deeper into the family and the community, a community that still resents her departure from the fold, she uncovers dark deeds and motives that defy understanding.

Kate’s continuing and growing relationship with FBI agent John Tomasetti only complicates her life and skews her choices. Choices that could end her career. John’s too.

This is an excellent series and Her Last Breath is one of the best.

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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Book Review, Writing


Book Review: Suspicion by Joseph Finder



Suspicion by Joe Finder


May 27, 2014

ISBN-10: 0525954600

ISBN-13: 978-0525954606

400 pages

Decisions always have consequences

Decisions always have consequences. Some positive; others less so. Some for all the right reasons; others born from darker motives. Some lead to happiness and fulfillment; others to loss, guilt, and recrimination. And still others open the door to a hellacious series of events.

Author Danny Goodman made a decision. A big decision. And for the right reasons. As a single father, he would do anything for his teenage daughter Abby. Even borrowing money from uber-wealthy Thomas Gavin, the father of Abby’s best friend and classmate at Boston’s uber-exclusive Lyman Academy—a place Abby loved, even needed, but Danny couldn’t come close to affording.

First a  small loan for a class trip to Italy, then a larger one for the tuition that was far beyond Danny’s means. But it was for his daughter after all.

But in Joseph Finder’s hands nothing is as it seems. Danny finds himself in a trash-compactor of fear and danger and a world of crime and retribution he never knew existed.

This story will pull you in and carry you on a journey of ups and downs and twists and turns that you, and Danny, never see coming.


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Posted by on June 9, 2014 in Book Review, Writing


Book Review: Don’t Look For Me by Loren D. Estleman



Don’t Look For Me by Loren Estleman

Forge Books

March 18, 2014

ISBN-10: 0765331217

ISBN-13: 978-0765331212

288 pages

Loren Estleman writes great books and has created a truly iconic protagonist in Amos Walker. I have been a fan for years but this story is one of his best. Old enemies, new enemies, and Walker’s usual difficulties playing well with others are all part of this fast-paced and convoluted story. When a wife disappears and her final note simple states Don’t Look For Me, Amos is brought is to find her. But what begins as a simple missing spouse case becomes something else again—-murder, drugs, foreign agents, organized crime, and much more. As the body count rises, Amos finds himself involved with a young woman known simply as Smoke who just might be more than she seems. An old, tricky, and ruthless nemesis enters stage left and the story kicks to an entirely new level. Loved it.

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Posted by on May 3, 2014 in Book Review, Writing


Book Review: City Of The Sun by Juliana Maio

City of Sun


City Of The Sun by Juliana Maio

Greenleaf Book Group

Pub Date: March 9, 2014


389 pages

“. . . a well-written historical thriller.”

Set against the backdrop of Rommel’s North African Campaign and the Jewish community that huddled in Cairo, CITY OF THE SUN is an intriguing look into WWII history. Jews had enjoyed a peaceful existence in Cairo for many years but war changed everything. Will the British stop Rommel short of Cairo? Will the Jews be able to ride out the storm in Cairo or will they be forced to flee to the Sudan, Palestine, or anywhere they might be accepted? And what role will the newly minted and pro-Nazi Muslim Brotherhood play in the unraveling of Jewish life in Cairo?

Mickey Connolly, a US reporter and covert CIA operative, is on the hunt for a Jewish scientist, who is hiding in Cairo, in the hopes of bringing him to the US to work on the developing nuclear program. His endeavors to track down the illusive Erik Blumenthal are mirrored by a master German spy who wants Erik for the same reason—to help build an atomic bomb for the Third Reich. Mickey meets and becomes enthralled with Maya, a beautiful young Jewish woman, who is in limbo—living with relatives, planning an illegal escape to Palestine, and unsure what future lies ahead. Also, unbeknownst to Mickey, Maya is Erik’s sister. The story is a well-written historical thriller. Good characters, wonderful setting, and  a fascinating story, but for me the best part is the look into this little known slice of WWII history.

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Posted by on April 25, 2014 in Book Review, Writing


Book Review: The Fever by Megan Abbott

The Fever


The Fever by Megan Abbott

Little, Brown, and Company

June 17, 2014

ISBN-10: 0316231053

ISBN-13: 978-0316231053

320 pages

“The mood, the tone, the characters, the dialog, the entire story will draw you in and hold you . . .”

Megan Abbott didn’t win an Edgar Award by accident. She writes wonderful stories with wonderful words and creates worlds and characters that stay with you long after you close the book. The Fever is just such a book. Set among high school angst, and with a dose of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, this is a dark and sinister story that revolves around friends, several of whom suffer a mysterious illness. Is it real or simply a case of mass hysteria? Is it the result of recent HPV vaccinations or perhaps caused by a potentially toxic pond that seems to draw students to it—as such lore-filled pools seem to do. The mystery is convoluted and unfolds through the lives and social connections that only teenagers seem to live. The mood, the tone, the characters, the dialog, the entire story will draw you in and hold you until the final page. Highly recommended.


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Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Book Review, Writing


Book Review: The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

WoB Cover



The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN-10: 0812995201

ISBN-13: 978-0812995206

320 pages

This story is convoluted and complex but the real delight is the writing, the voice, of the author.

This story will grab you by the lapels and drag you right into the woods and hills of the Missouri Ozarks, where the novel is set. It revolves around two women, mother and daughter, separated by time and the mother’s untimely disappearance. Is mother Lila dead or alive? This is the question that haunts daughter Lucy Dane. Oh yeah, and the brutal murder and dismemberment of her childhood friend Cheri Stoddard. The story jumps between Lila’s story in the past and Lucy’s in the present. The two are similar in appearance and temperament and each tale is as scary and deeply disturbing as the other. This story is convoluted and complex and populated with a host of unusual, deeply-drawn, and deeply-flawed characters, but the real delight is the writing, the voice, of the author. It will stay with you long after you finish reading.


Posted by on March 12, 2014 in Book Review, Writing


Book Review: The Bubble Gum Thief by Jeff Miller

Bubble Gum Thief



The Bubble Gum Thief by Jeff Miller

Thomas & Mercer

December 4, 2012


426 pages

This is my first crime. My next will be bigger.

“This is my first crime. My next will be bigger.” So begins The Bubble Gum Thief. This message is found on a card to which a stolen stick of gum is taped. What follows is a series of crimes that escalate is horror and body count. Solving the crimes falls to FBI agent Dagny Gray, who has a handful of personal issues, not the least of which is severe anorexia. Dagny must fight through her medical problem, an FBI bureaucracy that hinders her every step, and a serial killer that is increasingly cleaver and brazen. Well written and fast paced and populated with interesting characters, especially Dagny who is well drawn and likable. A good read.

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Posted by on February 22, 2014 in Book Review, Writing


Book Review: Notorious by Allison Brennan




Notorious by Allison Brennan

Minotaur Books

March 25, 2014

ISBN-10: 1250035058

ISBN-13: 978-1250035059

336 pages

… a fun and fast-paced thriller …

Maxine “Max” Revere, investigative reporter turned TV crime show host, returns to her hometown for the funeral of an old school classmate, Kevin O’Neal, who apparently committed suicide. Another of Max’s classmates, Lindy Ames, had been murdered years earlier while they attended Atherton Prep in California. Kevin, though never arrested or tried, was the only suspect and was deemed guilty by public opinion. Thus the motive for his taking his own life. Or did he? Max believes not. That his death was at the hand of another. But how can she prove it? And what about Lindy’s murder some 13 years earlier? Is it in anyway connected to Kevin’s “suicide?” Add to this the untimely death of a young construction worker at Atherton and Max’s radar is on full alert. She launches into solving all three deaths and runs against obstacle after obstacle, some of which threaten her own life. This is a fun, fast-paced thriller that will keep up late. Max is a character you will definitely want to hang with again and again. Hopefully more Max books are coming.

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Posted by on February 2, 2014 in Book Review, Writing

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