Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reviewing: The Caretaker of Lorne Field by Dave Zeltserman

There was a time when the position as the Caretaker of Lorne Field was a high honor. A position of respect that came with a small cottage, a decent salary and freebies given by the local residents out of appreciation for the very difficult job held by the Durkin family. After all, only due to the diligent weeding by the Caretaker were the relentless Aukowie held back from rampaging across the world.

But 300 years have passed and in these modern times, few have any respect for the position, the family, or the ancient contract. Nobody but the current caretaker, Jack Durkin, take the Aukowie threat seriously. Not even members of his own family believe he does something that matters. Proving the validity of the threat is difficult due to the requirements of the ancient contract. Requirements that Jack for justifiable reasons is very loathe to break. As the evidence of a lack of threat and various calamities mount against him, Jack Durkin, finds himself increasingly isolated and questioning his own sanity while he struggles to protect the world in The Caretaker of Lorne Field.

Readers familiar with Mr. Zeltserman’s work will recognize themes that he has hit before in other books. His stylized version of a redemptive noir is present in this novel where every decision Jack Durkin makes backfires against him worsening the divides inside and outside his family. Those decisions and the wisdom of them are also a key part of the author’s often repeated theme questioning the sanity of the primary character. In this case, the division between sanity and insanity is stark. Are the plants the monsters that will take over the world if not plucked from the earth as soon as they sprout like Jack believes? Or, as many others suggest including his own family members, are the plants nothing more that harmless weeds that play a role in his delusions?

Mutually exclusive versions of reality frame events throughout the 237 page book that shifts in point of view from Jack, to his long suffering wife, to others. Along with touching on the themes of discord between brothers, obligations to family and community, respect for others and the themes noted above among others, the author weaves a compelling tale from start to end in The Caretaker of Lorne Field. There are reasons for everything no matter what it is in this fast moving tale that is marketed as horror but really is a mystery with just a touch of horror.

The Caretaker Of Lorne Field

Dave Zeltserman


The Overlook Press




237 Pages


Material provided by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System. These are tough times for libraries so please do your part to support your local library system any way you can.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2010

Since the direct link deal by click on the cover to go to Amazon is not working, and their customer service seems incapable of understanding the problem or plain English, please click through the link below to order this title or anything else. Thank you!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reviewing: Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva

This debut novel by Bruce DeSilva is getting a lot of attention and rightfully so. Not just because, as has been done in several recent novels, the ongoing demise of the newspaper industry plays a central role. The main theme of the book, chasing an arsonist burning buildings and killing people, is a good one with plenty of twists and turns.

Liam Mulligan is your classic newspaper reporter. He knows everybody on all sides of his beat and when he isn't working or fielding abusive calls from his someday ex-wife, he hangs out at the local bars and with his bookie and smokes cigars every chance he gets. He finds time to chase stories such as the one about an arsonist who is burning down one building at a time the small neighborhood known as Mount Hope located in Providence, Rhode Island. The latest fire took five-year old twins to an early death the hard way and he wants to work the story.

Instead, his editor would rather Mulligan work on a story about a dog who supposedly followed his owners from the west coast all the way to Rhode Island. The dog’s family is hungry for media attention and is threatening to give the story to one of the local TV stations and Mulligan’s editor does not want that. The editor wants good news fluff stories to try and keep circulation numbers up and he wants Mulligan to get the dog story done and done now.

Beside the fact that the dog story is implausible at best, Mulligan wants to see an end to the fires and the deaths. He grew up in the neighborhood, an old friend is on the front lines as a fire fighter, and people are dying. The stupid dog story can wait.

Chasing the arson story soon makes him a target for his angry bosses at the paper, a fire bug that won't quit, and local fire investigators who holds a grudge and decide he is a suspect. As buildings burn and bodies pile up, Mulligan works hard to stay alive and identify those behind the fires before the carnage takes everybody he loves.

This debut novel is a bit dark at times which is not surprising considering the illustrious list of authors acknowledged in the back of the book. Either by inspiration or direct involvement, those mentioned are some of the best in the business and they don’t write light fluff featuring feel good stories where everything is perfect in the end.

One hopes that this novel full of colorful detailed characters, plenty of action, love of baseball and the Red Sox, as well as a mighty good mystery tale is the start of a series. It would be hard to imagine all this potential being used for used for just one stand-alone novel as the reservoir is deep with these characters. No mention is made on the jacket copy of another book, either as a sequel or something else, and one hopes that there is more to come from Mr. DeSilvia. Good stuff and well worth your time.

Rogue Island
A Tom Doherty Associates Book
October 2010
303 Pages

Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System. Times are hard for libraries these days so please do your part to support public libraries any way you can.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday's Forgotten Books: "Hardboiled" edited by Michael Bracken

It is Friday and therefore time once again to consider Friday’s Forgotten Books organized and hosted by the one and only Patti Abbott. I decided to go the way of anthologies again this week and chose Hardboiled edited by Michael Bracken. This review originally went up in November 2003 and reflects a viewpoint in the opening paragraph that I no longer have regarding anthologies. I went ahead and left it in simply because I think it makes it clear just how good the anthology is and why it is worth your time and money.

(Unfortunately Amazon Associates is not cooperating with me this morning so I am unable to include the cover image as I normally do. Hopefully, they will fix this soon.)


I am not a big fan of anthologies regardless of the genre and much prefer the traditional novel format. However, after previously reading and reviewing "All White Girls" and "Deadly Campaign" by Michael Bracken, I was very interested in reading this anthology, which he edited. I certainly wasn't disappointed.

Dispensing with the usual multi page editor's commentary so often found in anthologies, Editor Bracken allows the reader to delve straight into the works. He selected fourteen stories featuring very different writing styles, but all geared towards the dark shadows of human nature. Each story has a twist at the end as well as in most cases, using food as a theme in one way or another.

This is especially true in the story titled "Munchies" by Jack Bludis. The narrator is out on the town with his girlfriend Sheila after seeing a double feature of "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Big Sleep." They go to a local bar and by happenstance meet another couple. Before long, the story goes off in an unexpected direction and the narrator finds out more about himself and Sheila than he ever would have thought.

Stephen D. Rogers also works the food theme in a story that goes to unexpected places entitled "Tough Guy." (He has another story in the book titled "Cheating Heart" as well). The narrator sits down with a kidnapper to negotiate on behalf of the victim and the family over a meal. The kidnapper thinks he has everything under control and for him, is sadly mistaken.

Then there is "Holiday Bonus" by Nick Andreychuk featuring Private Investigator Earl Stack. Someone has been skimming money and Earl has checked everywhere and can't find the money. Everywhere that is except for the holiday turkeys, one per employee, that are supposed to be given out on Friday. Earl had needs of his own and a turkey with all the trimmings would hit the spot.

While I would like to go into great detail concerning each of the other eleven stories that make up this anthology, I can't because of space limitations. However, before you believe that everything in this book is doom and gloom, I have to mention the humor often involved in these works. Several authors have very funny lines in the course of their story, but Linda Summers Posey's story is funny from start to finish.

In "Who Put The Armadillo In The Avocado Dip?" Posey writes a funny tale concerning a fundraiser held by the Alliance of Animal Advocates in Houston, Texas. The narrator is working for Mat Martin Investigations has been hired as security for the fundraiser as well as to protect mattress king Walt Waters during his appearance before the group. But, there is a power struggle within the leadership of the alliance and not everything is right about Walt. I can't do this one any justice as it simply has to be read to be appreciated.

In addition to the authors mentioned above, Tom Sweeney, Dan Sontup, Art Montague, Carol Kilgore, Andrew McAleer, Dorothy Rellas, Kenneth Thornton Samuels and Robert Lopresti all have stories in the book. Each story in the anthology is good and each showcases the author's own style and voice. Each author plants one if not more twists in the story and packs a lot in the few short pages allowed. This anthology was very enjoyable and well worth the read.


Edited by Michael Bracken


Betancourt & Company

March 2003

ISBN#: 1592249493

248 Pages

The material was provided by the editor in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2003, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I hope you have a great day with great food, family, and friends.

And thank you for reading my efforts here and elsewhere. I appreciate it more than I can say.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Barry's Book Lists Updated

Barry asked me to post the following:

Hi, Everyone:
During the past week and a half, in addition to lowering prices on most of the titles that were already in place, I've added a few new titles to this list--http://jdcarr.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6771--and a great many titles in nearly every category to this list--http://barryergangbooksforsale.yolasite.com/--where I've also added some categories. E.g., cookbooks that my mother accumulated and which, not being much of a cook, I don't need.
I will continue to add steadily to the lists, especially the one on the Yola site, so check them periodically and let me know what you want.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday's Forgotten Books: Fedora III edited by Michael Bracken

This week for Friday’s Forgotten Books hosted by Patti Abbott, I thought I would take another look at another anthology edited by Michael Bracken. It seemed fitting with all the interest these days, especially in noir and rime anthologies, to resurrect my review of Fedora III. The review below first appeared online at Mysterical-E back when I was doing reviews there for Joe Demarco.

So, sit back and enjoy the review and then hunt down your copy of the book.

By now, pretty much everyone is very familiar with the classic detective cliché. The Hardnosed P. I. alone in his office when the beautiful dame (great legs, of course) walks in. Smoke wreathes the ceiling as she folds her long legs under the chair and tells our hero her problem. He can help her he decides and beyond that, there is something she makes him feel that he hasn't felt for a very long time. In this anthology, the cliché is stood on its head and spun around for interesting results.

This anthology, the third of the Fedora series, features seventeen hard-hitting stories of men being hardnosed men, dealing with the evil that walks the mean streets. While it is impossible to cover each story in detail, the selections below reflect a small sampling of the range of stories.

"Ordained Sin" by Carol Kilgore features Nolan Douglas who just ticked off his girlfriend-again. But, a case that falls into his lap just might help him ease back into her good graces as well as allowing him to clean up some human scum. Sometimes the innocents truly do suffer and nothing and no one can save them.

"One Hit Wonder" By J. L. Abramo is an intriguing story of a misdialed phone call. When placing your phone order for a hit, make sure you call the right number and not Jake Diamond of Diamond Investigations.

No anthology would be complete without at least one story about bail bonds and bond jumpers. In this case, read "Kane's Mutiny" by Bev Vincent. Not only is Jimmy Weber on the run with Kane looking for him, Weber's wife wants to help Kane any way she can.

Featuring stories from other excellent writers such as Tom Sweeney, Lee Goldberg, George Wilhite, David Terrenoire, David Bart, James S. Dorr, Chelle Martin, Dorothy Rellas, Ann Aptaker, Nick Andreychuk, Michael Hemmingson, Graham Powell, Kevin Egan and Editor Michael Bracken, interested readers won't find a bad story in the bunch. The tough guys care, whether they show it or not, the women are almost uniformly devious, and the streets and other locations are mean. It's a good thing.

Fedora III

Edited by Michael Bracken


Wildside Press


November 2004

ISBN# 978-0809589456


280 Pages


Material provided by Michael Bracken in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2004, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This is a very interesting development. I am still in the camp that believes e-books, as currently designed, are not the wave of the future. I still think there is going to be some sort of radically different device that is not on the market yet that will allow folks to read e-books in a different form. Until we get that device, sales of existing devices will continue to flatline, except for the occasional temporary spike when there is another price cut.

It also seems to me that if e-books were really selling like Amazon says they are, they would publish the numbers. The fact that they count "freebies" as sales says a lot to me.

But, the below will take you to yet another e-book venture. At least this deal has brand name quality talent behind it.


More and more I am hearing from readers complaining about how e-books are being taken over by self published stuff that does not meet standards. At least here, and with a couple of other ventures, there are brand names involved who made their names not by flashy Internet campaigns, social media, or whatever the latest hype is.

Instead, they made their names by writing quality books.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reviewing: "Murder in the Air" by Bill Crider

Blacklin County is slowly losing its way of life. Much of the town of Clearview is shuttered and vacant these days. Even the two stoplights in downtown have been removed due to a lack of traffic. There is a Wal-Mart on the edge of town that is doing well.

Over towards the eastern side of Blacklin County is the small community of Mount Industry. It had been a nice quiet place with orchards and what not that attracted day trippers from all across East Texas and beyond. That was until Lester Hamilton got the bright idea to create a chicken farm. Not anything simple either. A chicken farm with thirty metal buildings, each containing twenty-five thousand chickens in each. The farm brought in lots of chickens, a few jobs, trucks passing through town and a stench that was chocking the area and, according to some, making people sick and killing their own businesses.

That smell, which would have been made worse by his plans to add at least a dozen new buildings to the farm, might have been what got him killed. Lester Hamilton is definitely dead in the waters of Murdock's rock pit as this latest in the series starts. The question is whether it was a horrible accident or murder.

Being the most hated man in the county makes nearly every man, woman and child a suspect. The fact that protests are happening out at the chicken farm, that somebody is shooting arrows into county buildings and cars, and that some other stuff is going on means Sheriff Rhodes has his hands full. At least this time, he does not have to deal with somebody running against him in the upcoming election.

Murder in the Air is the seventeenth book in the cozy style Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery series and another good one. Once again, author Bill Crider puts readers in mind of his special place in East Texas where strange things happen and Sheriff Rhodes always figures everything out in the end. No new ground is turned over in this series which features all the usual characters doing all the usual things. Not that any is expected. Instead, this is comfort reading at its best by one of the legends of the Texas writing community in his signature series.

Murder in the Air: A Dan Rhodes Mystery

Bill Crider


Thomas Dunne Books (Minotaur Books)




258 Pages


Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System. Online they can be found at http://www.plano.gov/Departments/Libraries/Pages/default.aspx which features links to information in a wide range of venues for locals and others.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday's Forgotten Books: "Tequila Sunrise" by Michael Bracken

I mentioned yesterday my severe annoyance with plagiarists, among other people, stealing my review work. A case in point is the book review book review that author Michael Bracken alerted me earlier this week had been stolen by a website named “Private Investigator Chicago” located online at: http://privateinvestigatorchicago.blogspot.com/

Not only did the thief do a lousy job of stealing my review off of Amazon that was posted in October, 2004, the thief did not credit me as the author of the review. Kind of ironic considering the type of service the site purports to represent.

So, the posting this week for Friday’s Forgotten Books hosted by Patti Abbott online at:

http://pattinase.blogspot.com/ serves two purposes.

One, I am taking back my intellectual property from the thief at the above website. I don’t like plagiarists and am sure Dante reserved a special circle in hell for them.

Two, I am shedding light again on a very good short story collection written by Michael Bracken. If you have not read his books, you should. He is also a very prolific short story wise having been published in a variety of markets.

Besides all that, Michael is an all-around good guy.


Having read and enjoyed very much the novel, "Deadly Campaign" by this author, I have been looking forward to reading this book for quite some time. But, getting my hands on a copy wasn't easy for a number of reasons. Finally, I got one and I wasn't disappointed in this hard hitting collection featuring private Investigator Nathaniel Rose.

The 103-page book is made up of seven complex stories involving Nathaniel Rose and a recurring cast of characters over a significant period of time. In almost every case, the women are sexy, the violence is hard hitting, and Rose gets the crook by any means necessary.

The book opens with the story "Partners" where Rose is nearly killed when his Mustang explodes. He survives and with little idea who wanted him dead, starts looking.

"Fair Warning" follows and is a case involving a missing husband, fast food, and a tantalizing wife.

"Heartbreak Hotel" comes next in the book as well as in the book arc in terms of character development and time, and involves a missing fiancée. Simply making photocopies can get one killed it seems.

"Lucky Seven" is another aptly named story. In this case, seven witnesses can all detail for court how they saw a man kill his wife and her lover. The client just needs to know how good the case is, which on the surface, seems simple enough.

"Even Roses Bleed" revolves around a beautiful woman and her need to have her husband dead. Word on the street is Nathaniel Rose would fit the bill nicely, in more ways than one.

Strippers have always been a hallmark in detective fiction but rarely used to such good effect in "Tequila Sunrise and the Horse."

But after all, for any P.I. the cases are "Only Business." Something to remember in the sometimes stormy waters of love.

With an overall story arc linking the stories in this anthology and providing character development, this book is a very good read and more complex than many novels. The writing style is terse and hard hitting and usually in dialogue form. At the same time, scene descriptions come alive for the reader who will quickly become lost in the murky world of "Bullets, Booze and Broads."

Tequila Sunrise: Hardboiled P.I Nathaniel Rose: Bullets, Booze and Broads

Michael Bracken


Wildside Press



ISBN # 1-58715-252-5

Large Trade Paperback


Material received from the author in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2004, 2010