I remain pretty much closed to review requests at this time.
I am still making the occasional exception for authors I have read and enjoyed
before, and will make exceptions on a case by casebasis for books that
directly relate to my review column at Senior News. The main way to be
considered for my Senior News column is to be either currently living in Texas
or having written a novel where the setting is here in Texas.
My refusal to accept your book for review is not a
reflection of you, your talents as an author, or of the book, or your mode of publication. It truly is not
about you at all.
“Kevin’s Corner” is not a paid review site. I am just one
guy doing the level best that he can. I
remain buried with several hundred books going back years. That fact, and the
situations with my own worsening health issues and Sandi's terminal cancer,
mean that just isn't possible for me to accept still more books beyond what I
already have here.
It is 1921 and former U.S.
Marshall Gideon Miles is far from the Wyoming Territory and his old job. Miles
is 67 now and these days he and his wife Violet run a jazz club in New Orleans.
The “VioMiles Club” opened on Royal Street just a few months ago and business
is good except for all the paperwork involved. Miles had quite a colorful
career before retiring in 1910 and had done himself and the job
that was then and this is now and the paperwork hurts him more than anything the
outlaws ever did.
His frustration with the
paperwork has to be set aside when two ladies of the District show up to see
him before the club opens. Miles knows that means they are “soiled doves” and
he has no want or need of prostitutes in his club. But, that is most definitely
not what is on their minds. Miss Tilly and Celissa have come to ask Gideon to
help in the wake of the brutal murder of a prostitute. Eva-Lynn worked in Miss
Tilly's brothel and a man killed her last night before escaping the scene. Eva-Lynn
is not the first in recent weeks and months to be killed by a man wielding an
axe. Because the women have been prostitutes the local police have pretty much have
done nothing to catch the killer. Miss Tilly desperately wants Gideon Miles’
help as she has nowhere else to turn if the former U.S. Marshal turns her down.
Turning her down is exactly
what he does as Gideon is well aware of his age and responsibilities. Married
with a club to run he simply does not do that kind of work anymore. However,
other factors soon come into play, and he begins the hunt for The Axeman
Written by Heath Lowrance,
this latest in Edward Grainger's Cash Laramie And Gideon Miles Series is
another good one. Highly atmospheric with complex characters and plenty of
twists and turns the novella is a fast and highly entertaining read. Whether
you are new to the series or not this read is a good one and highly
The Axeman Of Storyville (Edward
Grainger's Cash Laramie And Gideon Miles Series)
This is a posting by the author regarding my review of last week and the warning I included concerning the content of the book. While I have no issue at all with the blog posting, I have made a comment on the Do Some Damage blog explaining my position.
If you missed my review you should read that first and it is here:
It is a cold February night in
Dallas, Texas and the body of Father Robert Lanton has been found on Jefferson Street
near I-35. Homicide Detective Renee LaFleet and his partner Danny “Tex” Beers
have been assigned to the case because of Assistant Police Chief Harold “Harry”
Wong. Wong is not only very good at his job; he is tough on the officers below
him. Chief of Police Chief William Smyth III wants the case solved fast and
though the body has just been found in the last hour he is already pushing Wong
hard to get results.
Despite the fact that both
Wong and Smyth are despised by most, LaFleet likes them and respects them. The Chief
of Police knew the victim, Father Robert Lanton, and believes a Catholic, even
one who has fallen away from the church a bit, should work the case. LaFleet
has done some volunteer work with two of the department chaplains. Taken all
together that means he and his partner, Tex, have the case whether they want it
or not. A complicated case that will eventually lead to a final showdown in an
ice covered Cotton Bowl.
Buried in this book self-published
by the author’s own police tactical company, Charlie-Mike Enterprises is an
interesting story. At nearly every point through Sentinel’s Choice the
story is bogged down with overly long and unrealistic conversations between
characters as well as long descriptions of situations. Frequently when a one or
two sentence paragraph or comment from a character would work far better, the author
choose to give a multi sentence paragraph result in a text that is overly wordy
from start to finish. While the large paper back is only 314 pages, the read
seems considerably longer as the author shows off his extensive military and
police experience as he slowly takes readers through various things point by laborious
That being said, there is a
story here worth reading beyond the noted issues with the book. The many
characters are interesting and a fair number of them are fully developed. The
action scenes work well as do the various complicated angles to the case. The
moral quandary at the heart of the novel is a difficult one with no easy
A small sample of the next
one in the series titled Sentinel's Dilemma is included at
the end of the book.
TITLE AUTHOR REVIEWER
SECRECY Rupert Thomson Yvonne Klein
Zummo, a late 17th century sculptor in wax, arrives in Florence and is
employed by Duke Cosimo III to sculpt a life-size woman to replace his
YET ANOTHER DEATH IN VENICE Tim Heald Christine Zibas
British Board of Trade detective Simon Bognor tries to find out who shot
a UK film director with a crossbow while he was on a visit to Venice.
THE LONG SHADOW Liza Marklund Barbara Fister
Swedish reporter Annika Bengtzon heads to Spain to cover the murder of a
Swedish family in a part of the Costa del Sol that is home to
luxury-loving Swedes – and a lot of corruption.
DEAD PEOPLE Ewart Hutton Sharon Mensing
Sergeant Capaldi discovers a series of dead and buried bodies in the
vicinity of a new wind farm and must fight both the murderer and the
police establishment to uncover the truth.
THE RED ROAD (Audio) Denise Mina Karla Jay
The latest in the Alex Morrow series offers a searing view of
contemporary Glasgow through the lens of two murders that took place in
DEATH MONEY Henry Chang Yvonne Klein
Called uptown to aid in the investigation of the death of a young Asian
man, NYPD detective Jack Yu has trouble even identifying the victim, let
alone discovering why he was killed.
DEATH ON BLACKHEATH Anne Perry Anne Corey
The mutilated corpses of attractive young women which keep turning up in
a gravel pit near the home of a scientist doing important government
work may not be what they appear to be and create a challenging
situation for Thomas Pitt, who must solve the crimes and discover what
is really at stake.
THE MARATHON CONSPIRACY Gary Corby Sarah Dudley
Nicolaos must solve the murder of a missing school girl, locate another
missing daughter and solve the murder of a tyrant, who was believed to
have died in battle but whose skeleton was located in a cave near the
Sanctuary of Artemis
EVERYTHING TO LOSE Andrew Gross Diana Borse
Hilary Cantor, divorcee with deadbeat ex, newly unemployed and caring
for a handicapped child, discovers and steals half a million dollars
that she finds in the wrecked car of the dead driver she meant to help
-- lots of others want the money, many of them really bad people.
WARRIORS Ted Bell Christine Zibas
Counterspy Alex Hawke must rescue a kidnapped American scientist as the
United States and China move dangerously close to all-out nuclear war in
this adrenaline-fueled thriller.
BLOOD ALWAYS TELLS Hilary Davidson Paris Abell
Dominique Monaghan comes up with a plan to exact revenge on her cheating
ex, but then the tables are turned on them both, leaving her brother,
Desmond, to find out what truly happened.
WITHOUT WARNING David Rosenfelt Anne Corey
The opening of a buried time capsule begins a series of murders that
directly involve small town police chief Jake Robbins, who is either a
demonic killer or the victim of an elaborate revenge plot.
THE POOR BOY'S GAME Dennis Tafoya Cathy Downs
Frannie and Mae Mullen's father, a thug in the protection racket in
Philadelphia, burned their mother to death when they were children; now
he has escaped prison and is hunting down his daughters.
MORIARTY RETURNS A LETTER Michael Robertson Meredith Frazier
Reggie Heath and Laura Rankin's trip to announce their engagement is
interrupted by a schizophrenic murderer with possible connections to a
crime dating back to 1893, as well as more recent evils
We post more than 900 new reviews a year -- all of them are archived on
the site -- as well as a new interview with a top author every issue.
Up this morning in Kings River Life Magazine the latest
Coming Attractions column by Sunny Frazier, along with some ebook giveaways of
"The Undercover Genius" by Patricia Rice, "The Libra Affair"
by Daco Auffenorde, & "The Murder House" by Nancy Jarvis http://kingsriverlife.com/04/26/coming-attractions-in-may/
We also have reviews & giveaways of 4 more fun mysteries
from Penguin-"A Killing Notion" by Melissa Bourbon, "A Roux of
Revenge" by Connie Archer, "The Blackwoods Farm Enquiry" by Ann
Purser, and "A Second Helping of Murder": A Comfort Food Mystery by
Christine Wenger, & we have a video interview with Connie Archer as well!
It was just a strange twist
of fate that bought U.S. Marshall Gideon Miles to Little Ridge. He is looking
for Edward Gandy who is wanted for bank robbery in two states. According to the
Sheriff from what little Miles could get out of him, Gandy has been a
farmer in the area for the past three years, has a daughter, and is a good guy.
The idea that Gandy could have ever done bank robbery is unthinkable to the
Whether or not Gandy was
ever a bank robber is not an issue for Miles. He has been told to bring him
back and that is what he will do. The Sheriff is going to be useless with the
arrest of Gandy and that might be just as well as considering his attitude
about U.S. Marshals and African American ones in particular. He is also most
likely going to be worthless regarding other potentially dangerous events
involving Miles in Little Ridge.
Like others in this series Miles
To Little Ridge is another solidly good western. Interesting
characters, plenty of twists, and turns along with lots of action makes the
series as well as this one good.
Miles to Little Ridge (Cash Laramie
& Gideon Miles Series)
As posted far earlier today.....
Giving away 2 crime novels this week, Alafair Burke's If You Were Here, and
Maggie Barbieri's Once Upon a Lie. Details on my blog,
http://www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com. Entries from the U.S. only,
With Sandi in bed asleep after a very long day for us down at Texas Oncology at Medical City Dallas Hospital where she got her third IVIG infusion, I am sitting on my back porch working on an upcoming review of this book. If you have not already read FAST TRACK you truly should as it is a good one.
Friday means Friday’s
Forgotten Books hosted by Patti Abbott here.
Barry is back today with his review of The
Education of H*y*m*a*nK*a*p*l*a*nby Leonard Q. Ross.
THE EDUCATION OF H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N
(1937) by Leonard Q. Ross
Reviewed by Barry
During the 1930s, Leo Rosten, under the pseudonym Leonard Q.
Ross, wrote a series of comical short stories published in The New Yorker about Hyman Kaplan, an immigrant attending Mr.
Parkhill's class at the American Night Preparatory School for Adults
("English—Americanization—Civics—Preparation for Naturalization").
Why the stars between the letters of Kaplan's name? Because
that's the way he writes it on the assignments he turns in, as explained in
"The Rather Difficult Case of Mr. K*a*p*l*a*n," the first story in
the book: "[Mr. Parkhill] turned the page over and read the name. It was
printed in large, firm letters with red crayon. Each letter was outlined in blue.
Between every two letters was a star, carefully drawn, in green." It isn't
long before Parkhill realizes that Kaplan's will be a challenging case, as
demonstrated by his efforts in Recitation and Speech, and in English
composition. In the former categories, for instance, he says the "most
famous tree American wriders" are "Jeck Laundon, Valt Viterman, and
the author of 'Hawk L. Barry-Feen,' one Mocktvain. Mr. Kaplan took pains to
point out that he did not mention Relfvaldo Amerson because 'He is a poyet, an'
I'm talkink abot wriders.'" The remainder of the story, which will
definitely elicit readers' smiles and, possibly, out-and-out laughter, concerns the meaning of the word
"vast" and Parkhill trying to answer Kaplan's question about the
meaning of what "sounded, in Mr. Kaplan's rendition, like 'a big
In "Mr. K*a*p*l*a*n, the Comparative, and the
Superlative," Parkhill has delayed calling upon Kaplan for two weeks to
present his composition for an analysis by the class. But everyone else has
written his or her hundred-word composition entitled "My Job," so
Parkhill can't put it off any longer. The comments, corrections and debates
between Kaplan and Parkhill and Kaplan and classmates lead to a comical lesson
about positive, comparative, and superlative forms of adjectives.
"Mr. K*a*p*l*a*n's Hobo" has our hero once again
participating in a Recitation and Speech session, this time talking about the
joys of a vacation: "De sky! De son! De stoss! De clods. De frash air in
de longs. All—all is pot from Netcher!" He prefaces this by explaining his
"hobo," which leads to corrections by Parkhill and Miss Mitnick, and
arguments with Mr. Bloom, and Mrs. Moskowitz. (No, I'm not going to reveal what
"hobo" actually means.)
By now you get the idea, sparing me the need to mention the
premise of every story: each of the fifteen concerns Mr. Parkhill (whom Kaplan addresses
as "Mr. Pockheel") calling on various students to present
compositions or to answer questions about assignments, and Kaplan presenting in
his own unique manner his takes on said assignments, usually with bizarre logic
and comical results. I'd be remiss, however, if I didn't single out the
must-read "Mr. K*a*p*l*a*n and Shakespeare," in which Kaplan presents
his interpretation of the "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow"
speech from Macbeth—as perceived by
If you love the English language and wordplay, and have a
sense of humor, you'll definitely grin your way through The Education of H*y*m*a*nK*a*p*l*a*n and, most likely, laugh out loud more than a few times
as I did. Highly recommended.
Derringer Award-winner Barry Ergang's own collection of
stories featuring wordplay, PUN-ishing
Tales: The Stuff That Groans Are Made On, is one of several of his works
available at Amazon and Smashwords.
Assuming the disaster caused by switching Sandi to COBRA at $900 bucks a month to maintain her coverage has been fixed this week and her insurance coverage has been fully restored in all the computer systems, we have a very long day planned tomorrow at the hospital. She will have blood work and an evaluation by the cancer doctor. Assuming permission is granted, they then will move her to the infusion room for the multi-hour IVIG infusion.
Apparently my long standing idea to cut the top of the bag and have Sandi drink it straight is not an approved medical technique. It would save considerable time though.
Since moving her over to infusion and starting her anti nausea meds and saline drip through the port may not happen until around noon tomorrow it means that what normally gets started around 10 most likely will be starting at least two if not three hours later. One hopes it goes well and there are no complications.
Hopefully, if all goes well, by sunset we can go back to UTD and pick up Scott who will have been out since noon from his classes. Once we have picked him up we can finally come home.
If you have been following the saga of Scott's latest foot injury in recent weeks, he had a checkup with the podiatrist today. The doctor says his foot is fully healed and Scott no longer has to wear the walking boot. Needless to say my son is extremely pleased with this news.
For several years now I have been writing a monthly
book review column for the Senior News newspaper. The Senior
News is aimed to the 50 and over readership with news relevant to
seniors regarding various issues, humor pieces, and my review column among other
things. The newspaper is a giveaway at doctor offices, stores, etc. and can be
received by mail via a paid subscription. There are multiple editions across
the state of Texas and therefore there is some fluctuation in content in each
My column every month focuses on books of interest to the Texas audience.
Therefore the books selected for the column, fiction or non-fiction, are
written by Texas residents, feature Texans in some way, or would have some
other connection to the Texas based readership. At least two books are covered
each month in the short space I am given.
Below is/was my April 2014 column ……
Last Death Of Jack Harbin: A Samuel Craddock Mystery
Seventh Street Books (imprint of
Paperback (also available as an
Back in the day just before the first Gulf War, Jack
Hardin was quarterback of the Jarrett Creek High School Panthers and he was the
man. He wasn’t when he came home after serving in the first Gulf War. Blind,
crippled and confined to a wheelchair, abandoned by his mom and many others,
Jack primarily relies on his father Bob Harbin to take care of him. The same
Bob Harbin who just died of an apparent heart attack on the street in front of
his house in the opening pages of The Last Death Of Jack Harbin: A Samuel
Craddock Mysteryarbin who has
just died on the street in front of his house in the opening pages of “Thwe
Last Death of JAck Harbin” by Terry Shames.
Bob Harbin’s death is just one of the many events
going on in this second book of the series. As he was in A Killing At Cotton Hill
Samuel Craddock, retired police chief, is the only real person around with
actual law enforcement experience and training. The past may have been buried,
but it coming back to life and taking a heavy toll on the town folk of Jarrett
Creek, Texas in so many ways and Samuel Craddock might be the only one who can
figure it out and stop those responsible.
One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects From Crocheters Around The World
by Judith Durant & Edie Eckman
(also available in e-book format)
As the subtitle 101 Projects From Crocheters Around The
World makes clear, variety is very much at work here in this nearly 300
page book. The projects are divided up into seven categories reflecting the
weight of the skein. The explanation of those weights can be found in the
glossary as are explanations of the techniques needed, abbreviations used, and
other helpful information.Instead of
being at the front of the book as usually happens that informative stuff is at
the back so that Crochet One-Skein Wonders begins immediately with the projects.
Featuring project diversity and variety in skill
levels, the 101 projects in Crochet One-Skein Wonders are sure
to work for you as well as your family and friends. The projects selected by
editors Judith Durant and Edie Eckman can be made for recipients of all age
levels and would be treasured gifts.
One simply can’t judge a book by the cover. That is
certainly the case here with a picturesque cover that conceals an intensely brutal
novella that has, among other elements, incest, bondage, rough sex, and plenty
of violence and bloodbaths on nearly every page. Overall, this read is a good
one featuring a large cast of characters, a number of backstories for each one,
and multiple intense storylines. However, readers are warned that The
Scent Of New Death by Mike Monson is very much an adult novel that will
offend and horrify some readers.
It has been a bad June afternoon for Phil Gaines.
After robbing a Wells-Fargo Bank branch in Pleasanton near San Francisco, his partner
Jeff successfully drove them away from the bank and to a planned rendezvous with
Phil’s wife, Paige. Then Phil’s meticulous plan went out the window and things
went wrong in so many ways. Phil may practice “Zazen” (a form of mediation) and
strive to live an ordered life so as to not draw attention to himself, but that
is easier said than done. Zen training does not solve everything.
What follows is a hardboiled multilayered novella that
is very graphic in terms of language, sexual situations and descriptions, and near
constant violence. Shifting between
Phil, Jeff, Paige, and numerous other characters, author Mike Monson weaves
multiple complicated backstories of the various characters into a very
complicated present day situation. An
incredibly violent tale of lust and betrayal in and out of the bedroom, The
Scent Of New Death builds to a dark climax that changes all who survive
the final showdown.
Readers are again cautioned that storylines involving
incest of a child of the age of 18, bondage, rough sex, as well as frequent brutal
and bloody murders are present throughout the book. This is not a cozy style
read in any way possible as everything is fully on the stage for the reader to
see and experience. It simply can’t be stressed strongly enough that this is very much
an adult read and only suitable for adult readers.
Last night the CBS show THE MENTALIST allegedly went to the Sam Houston National Forest to work a case. The first and most obvious problem was, upon arrival at the site, they showed land with mountains on it. Since the real life Sam Houston National Forest is just a little bit north of Houston anyone doing anything on the show should have known better.
Been there years ago and it was/is a great place. You can read more about the real place here.
In celebration of Earth Day Kings River Life Magazine is
only featuring ebooks this week. We have reviews & giveaways of 5 mystery
ebooks-"Unholy Matrimony": a Lucille Mystery By Peg Cochran, "Sketcher
in the Rye": A Portrait of Crime Mystery By Sharon Pape, "The Sleuth
Sisters" By Maggie Pill, "Twisted" By Laura K. Curtis and "Grand
Delusion" by Matt Witten
In the early 90s Barnes and Noble bought the chain I was working for called Bookstop. I still remember a 7 am staff meeting where we were introduced to Riggio who, among lots of things that were flat out wrong, proceeded to tell us all that we had been doing everything wrong to sell books. All books were created equal and could be sold like potatoes as all potatoes were equal. That was when I first was introduced to his mantra--"a potato is a potato is potato and a book is a book is a book." I never thought it was remotely true about potatoes, but I knew for sure he was totally wrong about books.
It is just unfortunate that those many of us who loved books and knew something were marginalized by those in charge who wanted nothing more than larger salaries, more and more perks, and fancy job titles while they drove the company right off the damn cliff.
Since this is Easter Sunday and a small part of the story, I thought I would share a sample from “Bartholomew Mortiman” today. Some of the themes that run through a lot of my work appear in this story which was first published long ago in Starblade Magazine.
STUDENT BARTHOLOMEW MORTIMAN
PRESUMED DEAD, FIRE UNEXPLAINED.
COMPILED FROM AP, UPI WIRE REPORTS. . .
fire fighters recovered the remains of a journal from the destroyed apartment
of Bartholomew Mortiman. Mr. Mortiman, undergraduate at City College,
is believed to have perished in the intense fire, even though his body has not
been recovered. While known for his odd behavior in a neighborhood famous for
eccentricity, in recent weeks his personal torment had apparently grown. Fellow
students said that the troubled Mr. Mortiman had caused several outbursts
recently in classes. While he had always questioned the usefulness of the
college experience and his course work, recently he had become more agitated
and prone to wild accusations. According to classmates, his quality of work
declined at the same time his comments about “something evil coming for him”
were shown some of the recent artwork that Mr. Mortiman had created in the last
weeks before his apparent death. The dark images seem to make use of a
considerable amount of blood, gore, and a figure in various paintings that may
be a representation of Satan. Neighbors and friends dispute the suggestion by
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents that Mr. Mortiman was a collector of
firearms and possibly a known drug dealer and user.
a portion of his personal journal, released by ATF agents, seems to confirm the
ATF position. ATF agents say that part of the journal was covered by a large
cross and accompanying rosary, which may have protected it from burning.
Despite the intensity of the fire, these few pages are almost perfectly intact
and do not show any signs of singeing or water damage. The following is,
according to the ATF, the complete portion of the journal that survived the
Friday, April 9th
had asked me to attend her church tonight. Despite my long-standing personal
misgivings about religion, I said yes. I never should have gone with her. Many
questions have been answered, but the burden of such knowledge is almost more
than I can bear. Now I have a responsibility to try to stop something that I
may not survive. Since I have been led to this confrontation all my life, it is
my hope that I will survive. Hopefully, the ancient legends and stories are
true. If not, I leave this record as witness to my plans in the hope that
others will follow in the battle…..
The very positively reviewed book is available for
$2.99 at the following sites….
Hardcover Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon (HarperCollins, 1992) is the first in the police procedural mystery series with Guido Brun...
Supporting The Blog
In my wife's memory and honoring a promise I made to Sandi, the blog continues...at least for now. If you would like to make a donation of support, you can do so at the links below. Most of the donated funds go to the purchase of various short story anthologies and collections which eventually are read and reviewed here.