Monday, September 28, 2009

Reviewing: "Fire And Ice: A Beaumont And Brady Novel" by J. A. Jance

For J. P. Beaumont of the Washington State Attorney General’s Special Homicide Investigation Team, the latest body might be the break in the case they have needed. Up until now the charred remains of several young Hispanic women have been missing their teeth making identification impossible. The latest body found in the melting snow near Ellensburg matches the other cases except for the fact that this body has her teeth. The fact that she still has them gives J. P. Beaumont and the team a way of identifying her and working the case.

Sheriff Joanna Brady of Cochise County, Arizona has a puzzling case of her own at a local all terrain vehicle campground. The caretaker is dead in what at first appears to have been an accident, but was actually murder. With his dog as the only witness and nearly worthless surveillance equipment, the case isn’t going to go any where fast. That is until J. P. Beaumont comes back to Cochise County pursing leads in his case, the DEA gets involved, and human nature in the form of vengeance rears its ugly head, among other things.

Shifting in viewpoint between J. P. Beaumont, Joanna Brady, and others, the novel works its way to a satisfying conclusion. While that works, what doesn’t work so well for the reader is the fact that frequently the povs of Sheriff Brady and Investigator Beaumont are placed together in the same chapter with little used to mark the differences between them. Gone are the days found in the early Beaumont books of his very own distinctive style. As the read makes clear, these days the main style or voice is with the Brady character with Beaumont coming across more and more like Brady.

Despite the quibble, overall the read is a good one. J. A. Jance seems to be following the herd of highly successful authors who have forced two of their signature characters together in the same novel. Ostensibly, it is a marketing ploy that is used to introduce readers to characters they nay not have read before. The results are often mixed from a reader perspective but in this case it seems to have worked fairly well.

Fire And Ice: A Beaumont And Brady Novel
J. A. Jance
William Morrow (Harper Collins Publishers)
338 Pages

Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

As seen in the new GILA QUEEN

If you aren't reading the Gila Queen to stay up to date with the markets, you are making a big mistake. Kathy put out a call looking for somebody to take a free ad and I got very lucky. Below is the ad running in the new issue:


Carpathian Shadows Volume 2

Deep in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains, in Transylvania, lays a castle once home to a nobleman who warred with the church, bound his servants with a curse of silence, and ruled his lands with a grip of iron. Lord John Erdely has been dead for centuries and his castle is now a haven for tourists. Or so, at least, is the claim. Under the editorial direction of Lea Schizas, six authors tell what happens to these tourists.

$3.99 and available in HTML, Adobe Acrobat PDF, Mobipocket, eReader, ePub, Sony Reader LRF, and Microsoft Reader (zipped) formats.

It is also available through Amazon for the Kindle.

Available at Amazon in paperback as well, it can also be purchased directly from Kevin R. Tipple in paperback form for the very low price of $10, which includes media rate shipping. Buyers can contact Kevin through his Web site: .

Now, how cool is that?


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reviewing: "Treasure of Eden" by S. L. Linnea

In late March, 1954, two cousins found a cave in the Judean desert, west of the Dead Sea. Bedouins, the teen boys, believed the cave to be full of treasure. The boys knew of a promise made by the sheikh that whoever brought back home treasures of antiquity would get to go with the sheikh on the next Hajj. The cave wasn’t full of treasure, but it did contain one small box that is priceless.

The box and the situation of the discovery ultimately created a scenario where one cousin lived and one died. That box has given the survivor both power and heartbreak. Held by the cousin for years as he ascended to power, he finally sees no other option but to sell it in late January, 2007. Of course, in the age of the Internet, the only way to sell it is obviously to put it up for auction on eBay where it quickly comes to the attention of various parties around the globe. However, the cousin soon has a big problem as the item is no longer in his possession and losing it could have dire consequences.

Among others, that box is vital to the operatives of Eden which includes United States Military Chaplin Jamie Richards. Back in Iraq and still working as an Army Chaplin, she has powerful friends and allies both in the real world and the hidden “Eden” world. She also has powerful enemies that also want the ancient box. An ancient box that may hold the actual written details of what Jesus said would be best in terms of society, markets and other issues.

This final installment of the trilogy brings the series to a close and satisfactorily wraps up a number of over arching story threads. Once again there are an excessive number of characters as the authors emulate epic thriller novels while not grasping the concept that secondary characters must have an impact on the overall storyline to have a purpose other that padding word counts. There remains the annoying tendency to bury the small parts of good stuff in a noise of unnecessary fluff. The authors, Sharon Linnea and B. K. Sterer, who together are writing under the name of S. L. Linnea, still refuse to understand that that there is a fine line between providing a rich read and preaching to the readers whether it is religious theory, economic theory, or some other social point. When the tale stops dead for page after page to make some sort of societal point, the authors lose their audience. A book purported to be a thriller should never bore the reader and this one frequently does, despite the raves by some and the promotional copy hype.

Still, for those fans of the series and there are many, this final installment will give them exactly what they want as the ongoing characters have not evolved at all over the several years of the series. Book three follows the same tried and true formula of the invincible Jamie Richards, compassionate, smart and so incredibly talented as she battles against forces of evil and misguided zealots to save the planet from the latest problem. The perfect comic book heroine, she can survive anything and find love along the way.

For those new to the series, this might be the best book to read as it rehashes concisely the first two books and tells a story slightly better than them.

Seasoned readers may wish to take a pass on this book as many of us have seen the same ideas done by many others in so many better ways.

Treasure of Eden
S. L. Linnea
St. Martin’s Paperbacks
ISBN# 0-312-94216-8
October 2008
Paperback ARC

Review copy provided by publicist P. J. Nunn of BreakThrough Promotions in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple (c) 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Milton Burton's Latest Story

If you haven’t read Milton Burton before you are really missing out. Not only has he written two excellent novels,

“The Rogues' Game” and

“The Sweet And The Dead,” he has written quite a few short stories. He has some of them up on his blog found at The latest one is more of a time traveling piece, but he has a number of Texas based mysteries on there.

Take a look and if you like them, I am pretty sure you will like the novels as well. I highly recommend them.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Reviewing: "The Dark Horse: A Walt Longmire Mystery" by Craig Johnson

Having won the 2009 Spur Award from the Western Writers of America for the preceding novel in the series, “Another Man’s moccasins,” Craig Johnson makes the fifth installment another interesting read. Wade Basard, a wealthy rancher in Campbell County, Wyoming approximately ten days ago as the novel opens. Mid October finds Mary Basard being brought to Sheriff Longmire for holding until her murder trial back in Gillette in Campbell County in three weeks. Holding prisoners for overcrowd jails is a way for Sheriff Longmire to help his budget in Absaroka County and to use the often vacant space.

In this case, it also gives him something to do since his daughter Cady went back to Philadelphia just after Labor Day. Already feeling depressed over that, the with drawn Mary Basard brings out the father in him. Accused of shooting her husband six times in the head as he lay on the bed and then setting the house on fire , she has confessed and refuses to say much or eat. But, Walt Longmire thinks she is covering for the real killer and before long goes undercover in Campbell County to find out what actually happened.

This novel is told through twin storylines. One storyline concerns the present day undercover investigation. The second storyline features events of ten days earlier and up until the current storyline. Both storylines are present in each chapter and separated by time and date stamps to clarify what is happening when. Both storylines are present from the beginning of the book until the flashback storyline is dropped for the last sixty pages.

The result of that creates a somewhat chaotic read as the novel jerks back and forth in time upsetting the flow of the story. Despite that issue which will vary in severity depending on reader preference, the latest novel features another entertaining read. This is somewhat of a crossroads novel for Sheriff Longmire whose daughter Cady is about to possibly embark on a major life change , his interest in deputy Vic remains, and he faces reelection against strong opposition from Da Kyle Straub and his slogan “ a man to make a difference.”

If you haven’t read Craig Johnson’s stuff before, start in the beginning with “The Cold Dish.” Sure, you can start with “The Dark Horse” but the characters in his books evolve over the course of several novels. They come to life , grow and change, which along with good stories, humor, and plenty of action , make this series not only award winning but worth reading.

The Dark Horse: A Walt Longmire Mystery
Craig Johnson
Viking (Penguin Group USA, Inc.)
ISBN# 978-0-670-02087-4
318 Pages

Book provided by the author in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Reviewing: "Blood Lines: A Novel" by Kathryn Casey

It has been nearly a year since the events depicted in “Singularity” and only now is Lieutenant Sarah Armstrong somewhat ready to return to work as a criminal profiler for the legendary law enforcement organization Texas Rangers. Her time at the ranch outside of Houston, Texas with her Mom, her daughter Maggie and the horses has helped her a lot and she is ready to work again if Mom and Maggie are okay with it.

She certainly is needed at work. Not only is there a case of a suicide that is just too perfect, teenage pop star Cassidy Collins is coming to Texas to do some shows. Coming with her and very much unwanted is the stalker who is terrorizing her and threatening to kill her. Known as “Argus” he seems to always know what she is doing on stage and off and has inserted himself into her life at every turn. He seems determined to end the harassment by killing her and appears unstoppable as he has, among other things, taken over her communications systems at concerts.

Fortunately for Cassidy, Sarah is back on the job and has help from FBI agent David Garrity. A former romantic love interest, he provides a compelling back story as does life on the ranch in another storyline with a medical crisis for one of their beloved horses.

“Blood Lines: A Mystery” is a much stronger second novel than the first book. Author Kathryn Casey made family and characters alive in the first novel and builds on those in this second book. In this series, people change and grow over time unlike the characters in some other series. In that way, the novel mirrors real life and the continuing characters easily come alive for the reader.

Believability regarding Sarah being a Texas Ranger was an issue with the first book which failed to deliver real behind the scenes details or sense that Sarah was an actual Texas Ranger. Billed as a “police procedural” by some reviewers, it really wasn’t and it never rang authentic in that area. While the Texas Rangers and law enforcement in general remains a key theme in the book, which some reviewers are also insisting it is a police procedural when it clearly isn’t, that area is secondary to the relationships between characters and understanding why folks act the way they do. Character development and interaction is clearly the author’s forte and when she focuses on that the novel rolls forward at a steady enjoyable pace.

Despite being predictable in a couple of spots for seasoned mystery readers, overall, the read is a good book with two compelling mystery cases that provide plenty of action, investigation and drama. While it can be read as a stand alone, reading the first novel will allow readers to experience both the growth of the characters as well as the fiction skills of the author.

Blood Lines: A Mystery
Kathryn Casey
Minotaur Books (St. Martin’s Publishing Group)
ISBN# 0-312-37951-X
294 Pages

Material provided by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library system. I also recieved the first novel through the library system.

Kevin R. Tipple (c) 2009

Monday, September 07, 2009

Reviewing: "Below Zero: A Joe Pickett Novel" by C. J. Box

April Alive?

It can’t be possible that their foster daughter, April, who died in the botched raid of the soverign cult as described in “Winter Kill”, could be alive. It’s been six years and the family of Game Warden Joe Pickett, his wife Marybeth, daughters Lucy and Sheridan has moved on though a lot of trouble and turmoil after burying her charred beyond recognition body. Joe saw her in a window of a trailer seconds before it was engulfed in flames and he knows she couldn’t have possibly gotten out alive.

They buried her and tried to move on, but her death and Joe’s guilt over failing to save her has lingered on. Marybeth and the kids eventually moved from the game warden’s house when Joe was replaced as the Game Warden and moved into the town of Saddle String. Joe has worked a lot of stuff as a sort of trouble shooter for the governor of Wyoming. He is living most days far apart from his family in a sort of political exile in extreme southern Wyoming in the Bays District, Known as the “Warden Graveyard” and other colorful terms.

Somebody called their old house looking for Sherry and claiming to be April. The people there gave out Sherry’s cell phone number and soon the texts start arriving. Whoever is sending the texts knows things that only April could possibly know. Whoever is sending the messages is also in grave danger and could be a hostage for a dying Chicago Mobster and his crazed environmentalist son, Robert. Even if it isn’t April, the text sender needs help and Joe Pickett isn’t going to let the FBI screw up a rescue again.

The latest in the series is another good read though author C. J. Box is once again using the extreme elements of the environmental movement to provide social commentary. As he has done in the last several novels, the work he does a as Game warned and what made the series o good in the beginning, takes a back seat to author lectures on the dangers of environmental extremism through villains that are environmental fanatics. In this case the mobster son, Robert, who is deranged in many ways and not just because of his environmental beliefs, wants his father to offset his “carbon footprint” to the point where Dad never existed. To do so requires money and lots of it and while they seek his fortune hidden on a ranch somewhere in Wyoming, they take the time to permantely remove others along the way that they deem are excessive in terms of consumption and carbon output.

Clearly, the author advocates more of a balanced land use policy that reflects the needs of nature as well as mankind. That is all well and good. But, to consistently portray only the extreme fanatics of the environmental movement in the novels and to constantly preach against them in the guise of story telling, does get a bit old. While the mystery of whether or not April is alive is a good one, some of the surrounding pieces of that mystery have a bit to be desired.

Below Zero: A Joe Pickett Novel
C. J. Box
G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Group USA)
ISBN# 978-0-399-15575-8
343 Pages

Material provided by the god folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2009

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Reviewing: "Defending Violet" by Jennifer Louise Jefferson

Ginger Rae Reddy practices law in the city of Port Grace, located somewhere along the northeastern seaboard hard against the Atlantic. A city that, like herself, has seen tough times and still sees them and yet survives despite all odds. Ginger Rae is practicing Family Law these days which is primarily about the final collapse of a family during divorce proceedings. She also takes the occasional misdemeanor case such as a marijuana charge or underage drinking. A baby in the hospital in a coma implies a major criminal case and one that Ginger Rae should avoid for her own mental health.

But, the baby mother’s is Violet and a former client. Ginger Rae got a restraining order several months ago against AJ, Violet’s boyfriend, the baby’s father, and a married man with a history of violence. Violet should have let the order do its work, forgot about AJ, and tried to change her life for her own sake and the baby, Teddy. However, as Ginger Rae knows, the cycle of domestic violence is hard to break. Violet loves AJ, is convinced he loves her and their baby, and that if she just makes him happy everything will be fine.

Things are far from fine. The baby, Teddy, is in the hospital in a coma probably induced by being violently shaken. Violet is in jail, charged with the crime, and the only suspect as far as the police and the D.A.’s office is concerned. Ginger Rae believes the teenage mother is not responsible and sets out to prove it.

Billed as a “legal thriller” in the jacket copy, “Defending Violet” is more of a psychological one. The law is a constant theme but personal relationships are the prominent hard hitting theme and take precedence over everything else. Not just the relationship between Ginger Rea and Violet, but Ginger Rae and her family and Ginger Rae and her assistant, Marco. Nothing is easy for Ginger Rae with others and her own self destructive streak runs wide and deep. Others make allowances for that, but, there are limits and she constantly tests them. Written from the perspective of time after the events in the book have run their course, the novel is constantly looking back at how relationships evolve and change and what outside forces can do to them.

Featuring fully formed realistic characters that are flawed, in some cases very seriously, the novel winds through the legal cases in criminal and family court with Violet. Along the way with some social commentary, is a tale of repercussions, consequences, and ultimately acceptance and survival. While this isn’t light escapist reading by any means, it is a very good book and this is one author worth keeping an eye on.

Defending Violet
Jennifer Louise Jefferson
Five Star Mysteries Series
November, 2006
ISBN# 1-59414-536-9
285 Pages

Review copy provided by publicist PJ Nunn, owner of “Breakthrough Promotions” in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2009