Saturday, September 30, 2006

End Of September Update

It’s the end of September and finally the weather is finally starting to turn. Had some rains as well as we have had a few cooler days and several very cool mornings so there is hope that the crushing heat is finally over. There is also hope for rain as the weather folks are starting to talk about an El Nino forming out in the Pacific. For North Texas, that usually means fewer artic air invasions and more rain. Rain is in short supply around here with lots of media reports on escalating water restrictions due to the ongoing drought.

Writing wise I haven’t been able to do much as I have been working a lot and reading a bunch. Mouth Full Of Bullets which can easily be found at (nice plug, huh) has turned into a huge success. I knew it was going to be big and that was why I agreed to be an Assistant Editor and among other things, handle all the book reviews for the site. But, even with everything going for it, I had no idea how big it was going to get and how fast. It has been simply amazing.

Site visitor count grows every day significantly and BJ has already filled issue two fiction wise. That issue is slated to come out at the end of the year and issue three is due in March and he is already reading for that issue. Kind of amazing and it couldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the paid contributors and their excellent efforts as well as the growing readership of the zine.

Issue two is going to mark a new section within the book reviews part of the zine. As some of you know, I have been writing a print book review column for the print publication SENIOR NEWS for over a year now. That column focuses on books set in Texas or written by Texas authors. It has been very successful which is why I am still there as well as because Editor Michael Bracken actually tolerates me. J

I approached BJ Borg with the same basic idea and suggested that the same thing be done in his zine but instead, to focus on books either set in Louisiana or written by Louisiana authors. The main review section would remain but there would be a sort of Louisiana addition to it. BJ, never one to pass on the opportunity for the hired staff to double the workload, thought it was a wonderful idea.

So, the call went out on the DorothyL list because I didn’t really know of anything that would fit other than the books by James Lee Burke. The call was answered, swiftly and thoroughly, as the calls always are over there and multiple lists were sent to me. I selected a few from each list that were available at my local library and my books to be read and considered for review pile grew like crazy.

The result is that BJ basically has the next issue ready to go and is waiting for me to get my work done. Good thing I have more time as there is the column and two different review areas to fill.

In the meantime, below is what ran in the August edition of Senior News. Enjoy!

A Strong West Wind: A Memoir
By Gail Caldwell
Random House
ISBN 1-4000-6248-9

Pulitzer Prize winner Gail Caldwell looks back at the formative years of her life in Texas in this recently released 228 page hardback. The chief book critic for the Boston Globe, she begins her memoir by recounting in great detail her experiences growing up in Amarillo, Texas during the fifties. Books were her entertainment and a love of reading formed at such an early age led her throughout her childhood and remains a strong influence today. A childhood she notes that was marked by her being, “the kid who read too much, talked too little, cried inconsolably over novels even as I maintained a steady grip on my own uneventful life.” (Page 21) A life that has become very eventful and included stays in Lubbock, where she attended Texas Tech, and Austin, where she worked in a bookstore which allowed her to expand her reading library. The book vacillates between Caldwell and her own experiences in the State that shaped her and a stirring tribute to her recently departed father who influenced her so much. The result is an entertaining look into one woman’s journey through some of the most turbulent times this nation has seen.

Off The Beaten Path: Texas (Sixth Edition)
By June Naylor
The Globe Pequot Press
ISBN 0-7627-3540-6

One can never have too many travel books and this latest edition on Texas which is part of their “Insider’s Guide” series is worthy of inclusion for your next trip. All the usual places and cities are covered such as the famous “Cadillac Ranch” (which also is depicted in the colorful cover photograph) as well as lesser known places like the “McKinney Roughs”, (between Austin and Bastrop), the “Dr. Pepper Museum” in Waco, or the “World’s Largest Jack Rabbit”, a ten foot tall statute located in Odessa. Maps are provided throughout the book as are other locations of interest as you plan and make your trip. Also included are places of lodging of various types, restaurants, fun facts about each area in the form of trivia and other interesting reading. Indexed with black and white illustrations, this 281 page paperback guidebook is a wealth of information and is a pleasure to read and work with as well as providing an excellent trip planning guide.

As always, thank you for reading and feel free to comment here or to me at More next time!

Kevin R. Tipple © 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

Book Review: "Dangerous Depths" by Kathy Brandt

Detective Hannah Sampson is back in her third adventure and this time dealing with what she believes was an attempted homicide. It was Sampson who was first on the scene when her friend Elyse Henry was thrown into the burning sea by an explosion aboard the boat “Caribbe.” Sampson was asleep on board her own boat “Sea Bird” when the noise woke her up and she investigated. Despite her injuries due to the flames, she was able to rescue Elyse who now lies in the hospital in a coma.

For Hannah Sampson, she believes that the explosion and resulting fire were caused by foul play. Everyone else, including Chief Dun of the Tortola Police Department, believes it was just an accident. Elyse Henry, advent environmentalist especially in regards to the sea turtles and the coral reef, annoyed some of the natives in the British Virgin Islands and appealed to others. With no real evidence other than a gut feeling on Hannah’s part, Dun wants her to move on to more serious and obvious matters such as who is breaking into charter boats and stealing stuff. Hannah is not about to let anything go.

What follows is a rather simplistic but enjoyable read. The second storyline of the break-ins on the charters is rather obvious as is the author’s feelings on environmental issues. Frequently the narrative read stops completely as the groups are portrayed simplistically as either for or against the environment and the reader is lectured. Like the character development itself, the lectures are simplistic and cultural differences regarding native islanders are mentioned but basically ignored.

The main plot line is enjoyable however and holds a couple of minor surprises. Obviously, the author loves the area she writes about and that comes through clearly to the reader when she concentrates on her main plot and the beauty of the area. When that is in play, the story moves forward at a steady pace. Unfortunately, the lectures are frequent and not at all subtle or woven skillfully into the story and thus, stop the action and the reader cold.

The overall result is an average read at best. Simplistic on all levels, this is a pleasant diversion for a couple of hours.

Dangerous Depths
By Kathy Brandt
May 2005
ISBN# 0-451-21493-5
262 Pages

Kevin R. Tipple © 2006

Friday, September 15, 2006

Book Review: "The Next Time You Die" by Harry Hunsicker

Named such by a bull headed father Lee Henry Oswald has a name that would stick out any where. This is especially true in Dallas where Lee Henry works as a private investigator. Lee Henry knows the other side of Dallas. The side the Chamber of Commerce doesn’t want shown and in the two years since the events depicted in Still River things haven’t improved.

His latest case, as have many others, begins in a bar. The bar is located just a few blocks from the new Dallas Police Headquarters. The air conditioning, the dim lighting, and the beer make it a welcome refuge from the cloying mid September heat. He meets with a Baptist Preacher named Lucas Linville who drinks like a fish and runs a small ministry nearby for the street people. He tells Lee Henry that a
file from his office is missing and the info inside could be embarrassing for a local prominent family. In addition, his office assistant is missing. Are the two things related? The preacher doesn’t want to think so but for Lee Henry it is pretty obvious.

Before he can find out too much more, a couple of thugs walk into the bar looking for his client as well as Lee Henry by name. They mean to payback Lee Henry for something that he was involved with that cost a good friend of his, Billy Barganier, his life. The past is the past and he knows it can’t be changed and that Billy is long in the grave no matter what the thugs say. But, the thugs are the first two of several promising payback.

As he works Linville's case, the second storyline involving Billy and their shared past becomes more and more prominent. Not only does the case go off in unexpected ways but there are links between the two. And while this is going on, his partner Nolan has romance problems and they are supposed to be keeping alive a certain young lady that has her own prominent connections.

The result is a sequel stronger than the original book which can’t be said that often. Gone is the writing workshop feel of the first book as is a lot of the sarcastic humor. This book is darker due to that loss of humor as well as the fact that Lee Henry is not as naive as he was in the first book. This Lee Henry is more of a bitter man seeing deep flaws in enemies and friends alike and not very happy with anyone.

Numerous references are made to events that happened to Lee Henry and others between the two books during the two year gap. This could be confusing to readers picking this novel up as an introduction to the series as the way they are constructed implies a book is missing in the series. Why this was done is questionable as the comments don’t seem to have any storytelling purpose other than to artificially age the characters and reinforce the idea that time has passed.

That is, however, a minor quibble. The novel is another enjoyable read that will be very familiar to residents regarding the dark side of the city as well as the moneyed elite. Such concepts almost become a character into themselves as the mystery unravels through the interplay of complex characters, multi storylines, and plenty of action. Like Still River author Harry Hunsicker has provided readers another strong novel that is well worth your time and investment and one that can be read as a stand alone if one so desired.

The Next Time You Die: A Lee Henry Oswald Mystery
By Harry Hunsicker
A Thomas Dunne Book
July 2006
ISBN: 0-312-34850-9

Kevin R. Tipple © 2006

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Satire and Crime in "ARTRAGE" by Everett Aison

“Van Zant closes his folder and looks at Mace, who remains silent
and impassive.
‘A blue-collar kid who makes it as a top lawyer and a serious
collector. . . trashes a forty-one million dollar Picasso. Mr. Carlson,
you are on the cutting edge of inconsistency.’” (Page 24)

There is no question that Mace Carlson did the shocking crime. The hard part is the why. Also hard is the fact that in this review, it really isn’t possible to say what the crime was without blowing the book. Even though, for the reader, the crime happens early on, to know in advance the specifics of the crime would remove some of the shock value. Suffice it to say that the crime is intense and no humans or animals were hurt by it.

Emotions are something else entirely. Mace’s action propels him into a prolonged stay at the Rothko Suite of the New York Police Department’s Art Crime Unit. With much of his time spent in solitary confinement, he has a lot of time to contemplate his action. He also has plenty of time to contemplate how his action has affected others including the son of his former lover. His case provides the fodder for a media firestorm as his action becomes a polarizing statement for both sides in the art world.

Part satire, part crime novel, the resulting read is a mesmerizing book that pulls readers along at a frantic pace. Occasionally, very graphic in terms of language, this is a novel that considers the current art world and finds things less than satisfactory. Rich in depth and character, the novel works on all levels and as a result is a very good read I wish I had read sooner.

Book Details:

Everett Aison
Pleasure Boat Studio: A Literary Studio
Large Trade Paperback
ISBN# 1-929355-25-4

More next time and should you have a comment, suggestion or idea, please comment here or e-mail me directly at Thanks for reading!

Kevin R. Tipple © 2006

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Book Review: "Under A Raging Moon" by Frank Zafiro

It’s the fall of 1994 as this novel set in the city of River City, Washington opens. A gunman is robbing convenience stores all over the city. Nicknamed “Scarface” for the obvious scar down the left side of his face, he has just struck again.

Fourteen year veteran officer Thomas Chisolm who is also the current field training officer for rookie Maurice Payne is near the scene. They respond as do other units while the suspect flees through a dark construction yard. Ultimately, the suspect gets away but not before managing to wound Payne. As Chisolm notes, “He couldn’t stop wondering how much worse it was going to get.” (Page 13)

For the men and woman of the River City Police Department it is going to get a lot worse. In addition, to what goes on in their personal lives, things on the job are going to get worse. As the days and shifts pass, “Scarface” continues a rampage that quickly draws increasing media scrutiny. Add in internal political pressures and the everyday stress of the job, it isn’t surprising that while some thrive, others collapse under the weight.

The result is a riveting 299 page read from start to finish. Author Frank Zafiro paints a broad canvas depicting a number of character lives both in terms of the police and the criminals. In so doing, it becomes clear early on that the author’s personal knowledge is clear and relevant to his novel and not gained from watching television. By using so many characters and their stories, which are so intertwined in most cases, the author is able to depict not just life on the job but the toll it takes the personal life of the characters

That added character development does not hamper the story line. While the main story line is the hunt for the notorious “Scarface” numerous secondary storylines are created and not all are completed in this novel. A sequel is clearly planned, not only by way of the novel itself but by inclusion of the first chapter of the sequel at the end of this book.

This is a fast paced riveting novel and one that tries to bring the complexity of police life home to the reader. With rich complex characters, a powerful plot line, numerous secondary storylines and strong writing, the book succeeds on all levels. The result is a good read and the sequel can’t come out soon enough.

Book Details:

Under A Raging Moon
By Frank Zafiro
Wolfmont Publishing
June 2006
Large Trade Paperback
ISBN # 0-9778-4021-2

More next time and as always let me know what you think either here on the blog or directly to me at

Monday, September 04, 2006

Book Review: "Seven By Seven" Edited by Charles A. "Tony" Burton

When this anthology was first proposed, I withdrew from submitting to it because I believed it was a topic done to death. As a reviewer, a month does not go by without an author querying me about reviewing his or her new book involving the seven deadly sins. Of course, there are the movies with too many to name here. Then, as well, was the Prime Time Live Special last fall on the subject and I believe Dateline did one as well early last spring. Still, I was interested in the general idea and interested to see how it would be executed.

After an interesting forward by G. Miki Hayden and an introduction by editor Charles A. “Tony” Burton that amazingly manages to never once mention Dante or for that matter Shakespeare, (both considered well known writers on the subject to put it mildly) the reader gets to the short stories and numerous black and white illustrations. The first sin to be considered is “Lust”.

The highlight of the section is the story titled True Colors” by John M. Floyd. The backdrop of a workplace shooting is complicated when the investigating officers can’t understand the witness clearly. But, at least they do have a witness.

“Gluttony” follows next and is showcased by “Refrigerator Raid” penned by Kimberly Brown. Hunger can drive one to do stupid things as Bennie and Clive soon learn.

Most of the stories in this anthology aren’t funny and aren’t meant to be. This is not true in “Catnapping” written by John Floyd. It is the highlight of the “Sloth” section and provides an answer about how to solve the annoying problem of the wife’s cat. It might just be the solution for other things as well.

Seeking personal solutions is also a component of the highlight story of the “Greed” section. Written by Deborah Elliott-Upton, “Money For Nothing” immediately reminds one of the song. In this case, the chicks aren’t free and will cost big time.

Taking a different track on the same background idea is B. J. Bourg in his story “Shot of Anger” located in the middle of the “Wrath” section. Bourg’s story takes dead at unfaithfulness and manages to twist reader expectations right at the end.

Frank Zafiro in his story “Wish” details the hopes and dreams of one man. The highlight of the “Envy” section considers what all of us have contemplated more than once.

The final sin covered is “Pride” and the highlight story for this reader is “Montgomery’s Marvelous Time Machine” written by Kimberly Brown. As she does in each section, Kimberly Brown weaves a tale much different than expected in an anthology of this type and yet her tale always fits the theme very well. This particular story revolves around a device mentioned in the title and the consequences of using said device.

In addition to the authors mentioned above, authors Sunny Frazier, (who soon will have her own novel out from this publisher) and Gary Hoffman have stories in each section as well. Author Frank Zafiro also has a novel currently out from this publisher titled “Under a Raging Moon” which will be reviewed here and elsewhere in the near future.

The 49 tales in this book along with the numerous illustrations provide a quick fun read. The highlighted stories were my personal favorites and your results may vary.

Book Details

Seven by Seven: Seven Deadly Tales Of The Seven deadly Sins From Seven Deadly Authors
Editor/Publisher Charles A. “Tony” Burton
Wolfmont Publishing
April 2006
ISBN# 0-9778-4020-4
Large Trade Paperback

As always, more next time and your comments, suggestions and thoughts are always welcome here or may be sent directly to me at

Kevin R. Tipple © 2006

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Book Review: "The Case of Emily V." by Keith Oatley

In this intriguing novel scheduled to be released in November, the year is 1904 and the main setting is the city of Vienna. Emily V. is beset by anxiety and fear. We know this from her own journal which over the course of the book reveals the horrible cause of her angst. Angst that she is trying to alleviate by seeing an analyst by the name of Sigmund Freud. It was her friend’s idea and soon both her, Sara, and Emily may have cause to regret it.

While anxiety and nervous collapse have Emily in their grasp, melancholia (depression in the modern vernacular) has once again claimed the fabulous mind of Sherlock Holmes. In seeking to aid him, his loyal friend and chronicler, Dr. Watson, has been researching the works of Sigmund Freud and would very much like to consult with him. Fortunately, for Dr. Watson that possibility soon comes true through an unlikely way. It seems that a British Diplomat has been found dead and the case which will lead the pair to Vienna could very well be the first of many cases offered to Holmes by way of his well connected brother, Mycroft Holmes.

Over the course of the novel, these situations slowly come together and provide the reader an excellent mystery of depth and substance. The characters and time period covered come alive for the reader in a way few books, especially first novels do. The author provides a richness of depth, not just in terms of Holmes and Freud, but for other characters as well. No one is stereotyped and all characters involved play important roles throughout the course of this novel.

When originally released in England in 1993, this novel won the “Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book.” As noted in the press release regarding the book and the author, “They felt that his gift’s for credible plotting and strong, assertive prose were outstanding and they offered the prize unanimously.” It is a good book and well worthy of your consideration.

Book Details

The Case of Emily V.
By Keith Oatley
Pleasure Boat Studio: A Literary Press
Expected Publication Date: November 2006

Kevin R. Tipple © 2006