Having seen a number of authors involved posting on Facebook over the matter, I went looking and found this roundup on The Rap Sheet explaining what little is known at this point in the post Steps Down.
With Sandi still far too sick to be out anywhere, Friday afternoon finds
back on the campus of UTD as Scott has a grad school class. He did the
picture earlier causing pic suggestions by somebody about my age as he
took the pic. So, I am studly looking off to my left at her.
A few years ago, Barry reviewed a Carl Hiassen book
titled Lucky You. I had not read him at that time. I still have not. Barry is
back with another review of a Carl Hiassen book. This time he reviews Nature
Girl. Make sure to go over and check out all the reading suggestions at Patti’s
NATURE GIRL (2006) by
Reviewed by Barry
On the first day of working
the airboat concession on the Big Cypress reservation, half-blood Seminole
Sammy Tigertail acquires a very drunk customer named Wilson who dies of a heart
attack while on the boat ride. Advised by his uncle to dispose of the body
somewhere not on the reservation,
Sammy does so, then decides that it would be prudent to disappear for a while.
Honey Santana, who has been
known to have anger issues, among several others, has just quit her job at the
fish market owned by Louis Piejack after he groped her and she responded by
fighting back. At dinner she tells her twelve-year-old son Fry that she’s thinking
about earning money by doing the same thing one of her girlfriends is doing:
taking tourists on kayaking eco-tours in and around Florida’s Ten Thousand
In Texas, telemarketer Boyd
Shreave, using the surname Eisenhower, interrupts Honey Santana’s dinner hour
and tries to pitch her on a Florida real estate deal. When she says she’s not
interested, berates him for bothering people, and calls him “a professional
pest,” Shreave fails to do what he knows he should: just hang up and call
another prospect. Instead, he says something grossly insulting and disconnects
the call. This leaves Honey with the unshakeable determination to get back at
Lily Shreave knows her
husband Boyd is having an affair and hires a private detective named Dealey to
obtain photographic evidence for divorce proceedings. Boyd’s paramour is his
telemarketing co-worker, Eugenie Fonda. Dealey gets the photos, one of which is
very graphic, but this isn’t enough for Lily. She offers Dealey a great deal of
money for even more explicit evidence.
When Louis Piejack is brutally
assaulted, Honey is sure her ex-husband Perry Skinner is behind it. Fry tells
Honey how Piejack suffered further indignities at the hands of paramedics and
surgeons, and she eventually pays a sympathetic visit to him at his home.
Piejack misinterprets this as sexual interest on Honey’s part and begins
How these disparate plot
elements and quirky, fleshed-out characters ultimately converge on Dismal Key
in the Everglades to satisfy their aims or fail to makes for a hugely
entertaining, neatly paced comic novel by Carl Hiaasen, whose satirical skills
have been compared to Mark Twain, James Thurber, and S.J. Perelman. Readers
with a taste for sometimes skewed humor, who aren’t offended by some instances
of raw street language, will likely devour it as I did. Then again, this is the
eleventh novel by Hiaasen I’ve read, and I have yet to be disappointed.
April 1, 2017 - "The Panel of Experts" holds a "What Do You Want to Know?" session for all your writing and publishing questions
by popular demand, The Panel of Experts will answer any and all
questions about writing and publishing in mystery and a few related
genres. Join LaRee Bryant (bunch o' books),Janis Susan May Patterson (bunch o' books), and Sandy Steen (bunch
o' books) on Saturday, April 1, 2017. But be warned - these ladies will
tell you the truth. Make sure you can handle the truth.
The Dallas MWASW group meets the first Saturday of each month (except January) at the Olive Garden, 4240 Belt Line, Addison, TX, 75001. Meeting time is 10:00 AM – Noon, followed by lunch.
There is a $10 fee (cash only – please bring fives or ones) for the program and drinks-only attendees. The fee is reduced to $5.00 (cash
only) for those staying for lunch. All who attend are encouraged to
remain and break bread(sticks) with your fellow writers.
Detroit has nothing
for him now and Hud Mathews has come home to work for his small hometown police
force. It is tough to come back as the area holds so many very painful memories
as well as unresolved questions. Some locals are unhappy that Hud is back as it
means somebody else is in their way up the ladder of local law enforcement.
Some are unhappy because Hud’s return means he will again try to find out why
his mother disappeared all those years ago.
Detective Hud Mathews'
first case begins three days after he is hired and it is a difficult one. A
young woman, shot in the back of the head, is found dead on the shoreline of
the local lake. She may have been executed there or dumped after being killed
elsewhere. Corner Bill Flowers, who has been around for decades, isn’t sure as
he doesn’t see any obvious powder burns at the impact point. The autopsy should
tell him more.
According to a local
resident who comes forward to talk to the investigators at the crime scene, the
deceased woman was a mom to an eight-year-old boy. The boy is missing and the witness
is very concerned for obvious reasons. Detective Mathews and Deputy Moran go to
the trailer where the family was staying and do not find him there. Detective
Hud Mathews has some ideas where the boy is as he grew up in the area and
roamed far and wide to avoid stress at home. There is a boy to be found and
that comes before the current murder or the case he has never been able to
solve--- the disappearance of his mother.
Where I Can See You is a first rate mystery full of
complicated characters, dark secrets, and deep emotion. The author has created
a diverse cast of complicated and very real characters that are each doing
their best to survive their pasts while functioning in the present. As the
pages pass, readers are drawn into a dark and complicated cast of folks that
are hiding much and yet slowly giving away everything they hold dear.
This is one of those books
that is extremely difficult to review without giving away too much. Where
I Can See You is one of those books
that really must be read and will surprise you throughout. It works from both a
reader standpoint as well as a writer standpoint as there is a very nice
storytelling technique used throughout the book that works exceptionally well. Intense
and compelling, Where I Can See You is highly recommended.
For another perspective,
check out Lesa Holstine’s review
from last January.
Border Patrol Agent
Hunter Kincaid saw the murder happen, but was powerless to prevent it. From a
half mile away from where she stood on the side of Devil’s Ridge watching
through binoculars, she saw the big man shoot the Mexican in the head. She had
no idea who the guy was, but he was clearly huge. She and three other agents
had chased the pair all day until “the giant” had solved the problem by killing
After the shooting in
Presidio County of the Big Bend region of deep Southwest Texas, the man easily escaped
back across the border. Dressed in his military camo outfit he had stared back
at her as he stood over the man he had just killed and then left at an easy jog
secure in the knowledge she and her people could not stop him. Not only did
they lose the guides as he left and his fellow guide was dead, they never found
the forty illegals that came across the river with the guides.
Hundreds of miles
away in Pembroke Pines, Florida, Homicide Detective John Quick and his partner,
Randall Ishtee have their own very difficult case. The body of a woman was dumped
in a drainage canal. She was stabbed with something like a machete or a large
knife somewhere else and then transported to this location to be dumped. With the
way the body is in the drainage canal, it would take somebody big and strong to
do it. Possibly the person who left size fourteen, if not bigger, shoeprints at
Gradually the two
storylines merge as Quck: A Hunter Kincaid Mystery shifts back and forth between various
members of law enforcement and the criminals involved in the cases. Despite the
fact this is billed as A Hunter Kincaid Mystery, the
majority of the read is with Detective John Quick and numerous other
characters. Much of the story slows down dramatically to fill in the
backstory of John Quick who, like Hunter, has been deeply traumatized by the
past and his previous actions.
That trauma involves
the brutal and graphic torture murders of his family. Both his wife and baby
son were killed. Unfortunately, that is not the only brutality vividly
described in the read. The adult language as well as detailed and graphic
descriptions of violence, including the removal of a baby’s genitals, will be
an issue for more than some readers. Much of these very graphic descriptions do
little, if anything, to advance the story line and are present for the sole
reason of shocking the reader.
While not as severe a
problem in the read, Quick: A Hunter Kincaid Mystery
contains a number of typos, incorrect word choice usage, missing quotation
marks, and other grammar and formatting issues. While they did not affect the
understanding of the storylines, they were distracting from the read.
Though there is a good
core story to Quick: A Hunter Kincaid Mystery by Bill Kring, the typos and
other grammar issues, as well as the descriptive torture scenes definitely negatively
impact the book. So too does the fact that, despite its title, the vast
majority of the read is not with the signature character Hunter Kincaid. In
fact, it appears to this reader that Hunter is present in approximately a
third, if not less, of the book.
While the basic storylines
had significant potential, in the end, the read was significantly harmed by too
much filler, a number of graphic torture descriptions that serve no point to
advance the story, and the need for editing in terms of typos, incorrect word
choice, missing quotation marks, etc. The book would benefit from proofreading
to correct the grammar issues as author understanding that not everything
somebody does to somebody else has to be described. It is also not at all
necessary to describe every single item in every single room of a home though
that is far preferable to detailing everything with regards to torture and
Devil’s Footprints: A Hunter Kincaid Short Story I am well aware that
the author can do much better than this effort. While I do recommend that very entertaining short story, I do not recommend Quick:
A Hunter Kincaid Mystery
for the reasons noted in this review.
While billed as book
four of the Aaron Tucker Mystery Series, the short story titled, The Gun
Also Rises, is also a prequel to the series. For readers familiar with
the books, this ten thousand word short story is an explanation of how things got
started with characters we already know and love. For those readers new to the
series, it is a nice taste of what is to come in the series that started with For Whom
The Minivan Rolls.
Set several years
before the books, the tale opens with Aaron Tucker dealing with a school issue
that haunted many parents in the late 1990s--- zero tolerance. Driven by fear, zero
tolerance policies covered many things that used to be handled on an individual
case-by-case manner as things happened. Bringing a toy water gun to school and
shooting your fellow first grade classmate is something that does not go over
well. What would have been dismissed as a childhood prank and the offender
warned, now results in a heavy administrative response. Barely two weeks into
the school year and Aaron Trucker is already sitting down with the Vice
Principal Anne Mignano of Sydney Primary School located in Midland Heights, New
According to the vice
principal, there isn’t any question Ethan used his water gun on the other
student. Even if Abby, Ethan’s mom and
Aaron’s wife, and is also an attorney, was there for the meeting Ethan could
not avoid a two day suspension from school. After all, it is a mandatory district
rule and therefore can’t be open to interpretation.
But, what if the
water gun wasn’t his?
Aaron knows once he
sees the water gun that it does not belong to Ethan. Aarons knows what toys Ethan
has and certainly does not have a yellow one. All Ethan has are red and blue
toys, except for dinosaurs, as they have to be yellow because it is an accuracy
thing. Once Aaron points out the fact that he had the water gun isn’t his, Vice
Principal Mignano gives him three days to identify the guilty party or Ethan
starts his suspension on Monday.
Not only does Aaron need
the time to clear his son of the false accusation, he needs time to do his
freelance writing assignments. Being a working writer operating from home means
he has his hands full with taking care of the home front in all aspects as well
as taking any and all writing gigs as they come. That includes an assignment
for a baseball periodical that wants Aaron to write a piece on the star pitcher
of the local minor league team. The same star pitcher that died right on the mound
during the celebration minutes after the team won the championship. As Aaron
does his research on the player, when not dealing with the water gun problem,
Aaron begins to realize that the death was a murder. The question is—who did
First published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, The
Gun Also Rises is a mystery with a couple of twists and plenty of
humor. Those of us who were work from home parents or still are will recognize
some of the issues that have to be dealt with on a regular basis. Those who aren’t
will still get a chuckle or two as the primary mystery of what happened to the
baseball player takes over the read.
Fun and entertaining,
Gun Also Rises: An Aaron Tucker Mystery, is a nice
treat for longtime readers of the Aaron Tucker series as well as a
very nice entry point for new readers. Well worth your time, the short tale is
The Gun Also Rises: An Aaron Tucker
I picked this up to read and review earlier this month when I discovered it
using funds in my Amazon Associate Account.
Please welcome award winning author Stephanie Osborn to
the blog today. Billing herself as the “the Interstellar Woman of Mystery” she
has been a real life rocket scientist and is the author, co-author, or
contributor to more than thirty books including a number of science fiction
mysteries. Today she shares an excerpt from her new book, Division One, available in both print and eBook. Dr. Megan
McAllister, aka Omega, and her experienced partner, Echo, handle everything
from lost alien children to extraterrestrial assassination attempts and more.
Division One Excerpt
“I don’t get it,” said Romeo from his seat in the training
observation room. “Y’all didn’t put ME through all this testing crap.
Creativity testing and obstacle courses and puzzles an’ junk. I know we’re
shorthanded an’ all, but...what gives? It’d be way simpler an’ quicker to just
put her through the old testing.”
“We’re getting ready to start up a new department,” answered
Fox, across the small conference table from Romeo; next to the younger agent
sat his new partner, India. “Echo’s already agreed to head it up, while you
were laid up with the leg. Good to see you off the crutches, by the way.”
“Damn good to be off ‘em. Still hobblin’ around a little,
but that’ll go away eventually; ‘s why I’m keepin’ a cane handy for a while. So
tell me about this new department. If you can, yet.”
“I can. It’ll be a kind of combination SWAT team and
commando unit. Teams from this department will take the point whenever we have
the really dangerous situations—the interstellar terrorists, the galactic
invasions, things like that. We think, with her background, she may have what
it takes to make it in this department. We sure as hell can’t send her back
where she came from. She seems intrigued by the idea, at least. And no family
complications to worry about. Single, only child, birth family gone in a car
“But, Fox, what if she can’t hang?”
“I don’t know yet, Romeo. We’ll cross that bridge—”
“We won’t have to,” interrupted Echo, coming into the
testing observation room and moving past the table around which the others were
seated, directly to the observing window. “She’ll make it.”
“But how do you know?” asked Romeo. “‘Got a feeling’?”
“Yup. Same one I had about you, junior.”
“WELL, the lady’ll hang, then.” Romeo sat back in his chair,
“Damn,” muttered India.
Echo shot her a hard look, then returned his attention to
the observation window overlooking the course.
“Have we started yet?”
“No,” Fox answered. “We’re still getting set up. And we were
waiting for you.”
“I’m here. Let’s get rolling.”
“Done.” Fox hit a button on an adjacent control console.
Romeo, Echo, and India watched as the observation window, as
well as a hooded monitor on the command console, showed several aliens of
various types entering the obstacle course. Romeo gasped as he recognized a
Betelgeusian giant arachnoid, possessing, by his estimate, a good fourteen-or
fifteen-foot leg span—accompanied by several Division One agents sporting
flamethrowers, lasers, blasters, and disintegrator rifles, entering the course.
Two heavily-armed guards in black armor moved into position at the entrance.
Romeo and India noticed then, with a shock, that they were FACING the course,
as if the concern was from something inside.
“Hope she’s not afraid of spiders,” Echo remarked
“Hope she’s not afraid of death,” Romeo murmured to India.
* * *
Megan came into the observation room just then. She was
wearing black workout leggings and sports-bra top, but the rest of her attire
was somewhat odd: menswear-style black lace-up dress shoes, a black tie, a
dress leather belt, and a pair of the special goggles-cum-sunglasses strapped
to one hip. An unusual device, like a large plastic bangle bracelet, was fastened
around her right ankle. Sensors attached to her head and torso connected to a
small transmitter pack on her back. Echo met her and led her to the command
“All right, Megan,” Fox began, waving a hand at the view in
the monitor, which now only depicted a door and two guards, “this is the
obstacle course. When you go through that door,” he pointed to the image of the
guarded door on the monitor, “you will enter the first of a series of six
rooms, each of which has various...impediments...to your progress. Your
objective is simply to reach the exit of room six as quickly as possible. The
tracking device on your ankle will enable us to monitor your progress. You may
make use of anything on your person, as well as anything you find along the
course. In addition, you may select from one—and only one—of the items on this
Megan eyed the monitor display in detail before Fox led her
over to the table. On it was an eclectic collection of items: a Phillips-head
screwdriver, a small glass bottle, a pair of wire cutters, a coil of rope, a
pen knife, a jar of cheese spread, a pocket-sized Winchester & Tesla Mark
II death ray, a packet of facial tissues, and a chocolate bar.
Megan was in no rush. She scanned the table carefully,
considering, as the four Division One agents watched. She looked herself up and
down, fingering the items she already carried. Echo watched as she flipped over
the tie and checked to see what was on the label. He smiled inwardly, pleased
as he followed her mental processes, realizing he understood how she thought.
Finally she reached out, picked up the pen knife, and clipped it to the belt at
Echo raised an eyebrow in carefully-hidden surprise and
looked at Fox, who returned his gaze unemotionally. Romeo and India watched the
whole scene in amazement.
“Ready, then?” Fox asked Megan.
“As I’ll ever be.”
“All right. Follow me.”
As Fox led Megan out, Echo turned to the console, put on a
headset, and began entering commands. Romeo and India walked up to the
observation window, and Echo hit a button. Blast shutters on the window began
“Sorry, kids. Can’t watch this one; you’ll have to go
through this yourselves soon enough.”
“Oh, joy,” India muttered.
“You can monitor her progress on this schematic.” Echo hit
another sequence of commands, and a panel opened on the wall. It showed the
layout of six variously-shaped, interconnected rooms, a number on each room.
“How are you gonna evaluate her if you can’t see what she’s
doing?” Romeo asked him, as he and India sat back down at the table, across
from the schematic.
“I didn’t say Fox and I couldn’t watch. I’ve been through
it. You haven’t. Yet.”
Fox re-entered the room. “She’s ready, Echo.”
“All right, then.” Echo handed Fox another headset, then
keyed the microphone switch. “Megan? GO!”
* * *
The door opened, but Megan was
in no hurry to charge through it. Any obstacle course that had a funky-looking
little weapon like that strange pocket-sized ray gun as one of the equipment
options was not one into which she intended to go running headlong. Let alone
the armed guards stationed around it. So she eased around the left side of the
doorframe, surveying the room from the threshold.
How odd, she thought, as she scanned the room; it looks like an ordinary study: hardwood floors, bookcases lining the
walls, cozy fireplace on the far side, with a wing chair and decorative wrought
iron side table next to it.
A heavy walnut desk with
granite top stood in the center; a lamp and crystal decanter sat on one corner.
Waterford crystal, it looks like. An
EXPENSIVE study, then.
The door into the next room was
in the far wall, to the right of the fireplace.
She stepped forward into the
* * *
Romeo and India watched the
display as the first block lit up with a big red ‘1.’ Echo and Fox leaned
together over the screened closed-circuit monitor.
“She’s in,” Echo observed.
“Aaannd the timers have
started,” Fox noted. “Both of ‘em.”
India and Romeo exchanged glances...and
thoughts. BOTH of ‘em?
* * *
Megan had taken no more than
two steps into the room when she heard a faint, almost inaudible click off to
the left. Quickly spinning, she saw bookcase holograms fade away to reveal a
blank wall with horizontal slits halfway up. Oh shit, she had just time to think. She dropped flat on the floor
as a flurry of projectiles whistled through the space she had occupied
fractions of a second before.
Suddenly the fireplace roared,
belching a tongue of flame into the room. She rolled to her right, out of its
reach, in the barest nick of time. Another projectile barrage opened up.
Scanning the room, she swiftly combat-crawled over to and under the desk, where
she caught her breath as she analyzed her situation.
* * *
“She actually heard that,” Echo
remarked in surprise. “Damn. I knew her ears were pretty sharp, but wow.”
“Pulse, one-twenty and steady;
blood pressure, 130 over 90,” Fox read off the sensor readouts. “Respiration,
twenty-three. High left hemispheric encephalographic activity. Trigger the
plasma jet, Echo.”
Romeo and India spun around and
stared in dismay at the two calm men. Plasma
* * *
A faint whine was the only
warning Megan got before the plasma cannon behind the right-hand wall opened
up. She crouched farther back, under the desk, until its initial salvo was
complete. Then, in a momentary lull between projectile bank, flame-throwing
fireplace, and plasma cannon, she reached up with her right hand, over the
desktop, and grabbed for the decanter she had seen there. Miraculously, it was
unbroken, having been below the level of the projectile barrage. She
unstoppered it and sniffed the decanter mouth. Brandy. Perfect. She put on the special glasses.
She timed her next move
carefully. In the split-second after the projectile weapons fired, while the
plasma cannon built to discharge again, she emerged from her cover and flung
the stoppered decanter with all the force and accuracy she could muster,
straight at the plasma gun, then she turned and pushed with all her might
against the back of the desk.
The desk slid across the
polished floor just as the crystal decanter crashed into the now-firing
cannon...and exploded. The improvised Molotov cocktail melted the circuitry and
ignited the fuel tank, sending a geyser of flame out into the center of the
room. But the desk was no longer in the center. Instead, it was now overturned,
with its substantial polished granite top largely blocking the flame-throwing
Megan held her breath, closed
her eyes, and crouched in the desk’s opening until the flames from the plasma
cannon subsided and the current round of projectile barrage ceased. Then,
slightly singed, she scuttled on elbows and knees behind the wing chair. She
overturned the marble-and-iron side table, heedless of the useless trinkets
which tumbled off it, and caught it up in her left hand, holding it by the
wrought iron pedestal. Using the tabletop as a shield, she moved up into a
crouch, ducking behind it when the next round of missiles opened up.
“Aahh! Dammit!” A ricochet off
the nearby marble mantelpiece winged her right shoulder. But she had reached
the exit door. Still shielding herself with the table, she tapped the door
handle warily with her right hand; no booby traps. She opened it; stepped sideways
to her right...
* * *
Block 2 of the schematic lit
“Pulse, one-thirty and rising;
BP, 135 over 92; respiration twenty-five. Hemispheric activity high and equally
dominant,” Fox called out.
“Staying calm, thinking fast
and getting creative. Great. Fox, did we get the fumes vented properly?” Echo
asked, glancing over his shoulder at the two younger agents, so very intent on
the largely-blank schematic, with a grin. Good
idea Fox had, letting them see only a small part of the test. Ups the ante for
‘em, and gives us a chance to see how THEY react to the pressure.
“Yeah, no problem,” Fox
responded. “Didn’t want it building to potentially dangerous levels, anyway.”
* * *
Fumes? What kind of fumes? Romeo and India sat staring,
unbelieving, at the schematic while listening to the two men. WE’RE gonna have to go through this?
“How’s she doing?” Echo asked.
“If she maintains this pace,
she’ll equal the record,” Fox responded.
“Dayum! Who set it?” exclaimed
“I did, about six months ago,”
Echo remarked, offhanded, his attention never wavering from the lithe figure
going through its paces on the monitor.
* * *
This room was a formal dining
room, of all things, complete with chandeliers and elegantly-set banquet table.
Funny notions they have about obstacle
courses, Megan thought. Whatever she had been expecting, so far this wasn’t
Megan discarded the side table
and moved cautiously into the room, on the lookout for booby traps now. Her
nose caught it first: an acrid, pungent odor. Then she saw the wisps of vapor
rising from the floor.
“Acid!” she cried out in
horror. The flooring was being eaten away underneath her.
Do they really want to kill me? I didn’t think that Echo-guy
would’ve...but at least they would be rid of an eyewitness. Damn. Is this all
just a set-up, then? An excuse for knocking me off? I am in such trouble...
An adrenalin-propelled standing
leap took her to the near end of the banquet tabletop, irrespective of china
and crystal, which tumbled this way and that, shattering. The way out, an open
archway, was at the opposite end of the long table, but the opening was far out
of reach of her ability to jump. The floor was now out of the question; large
holes were starting to appear in it, a bubbling fluid underneath. She looked
The row of chandeliers ran
almost the entire length of the oblong room, and were of the ornate Victorian
candelabra style. Jumping up, Megan caught onto the one overhead and swung on
it, tugging, testing. Strong enough, but
not far enough, she thought, easing back down to the tabletop. If they only hung a little bit lower...
Abruptly, the table dropped out
from under her, lowering by a full six inches, as what was left of the floor
gave way. Megan lost her footing and fell, smashing china and sliding across
the polished wood, over the edge. Digging her fingernails into the wood, she
halted herself, her bent knees mere inches from the acid that now pooled around
the bottom of the table. She slowly clawed her way back onto the tabletop. At least now I know how deep the acid is...
Suddenly, she whipped off her
tie and belt. She threaded the leather belt through its buckle, making a loop,
then used the pen knife to enlarge the last belt notch. Replacing the pen knife
securely on her hip, where it clipped to the waistband of her leggings next to
the glasses case, she quickly threaded the small end of the silk tie through
the hole in the belt and knotted it firmly, jerking it hard to test it. Then
she ran to the far end of the tabletop. She didn’t know if it would hold, but
there was no time to change her mind. The table legs were starting to
“Hope the farm skills are still
with me,” she muttered as she swung the makeshift lasso.
The leather loop caught a prong
of the chandelier, and Megan jerked it tight. Backing up as far as her
improvised rope would allow, she made a running start, then swung forward.
No time to check the next room, she thought as she swung through
the air. I just hope I hit the door
opening straight, or this is gonna hurt bad...
“BANZAI!” she yelled as she
reached the top of her arc and let go, flying head-first, arms stretched out in
front, hands fisted, through the open doorway.
* * *
“Wow. Nice Superman jump,” Echo
noted with a grin.
“Yeah, I liked it too,” Fox
Romeo and India just stared at
the two men in consternation.
* * *
As soon as she was well through
the opening, Megan realized she was in a bad way. Landing hard, she rolled,
looked up, and blanched. At the far end of the room crouched a giant, hairy,
black spider-like creature, with a leg-spread of at least fifteen feet, in a
huge cage. To Megan’s horror, the front of the cage began to slide slowly up.
“Spiders. Dammit. I hate
spiders. Why did it have to be spiders?” she muttered.
author Osborn is a 20+-year space program veteran, with multiple STEM degrees.
She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to more than 30 books. She
currently writes the critically-acclaimed Displaced
Detective Series, described as “Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files,” and the
Gentleman Aegis Series, whose first
book was a Silver Falchion winner. She “pays it forward” through numerous media
including radio, podcasting and public speaking, and working with SIGMA, the
science-fiction think tank. Osborn’s website is http://www.stephanie-osborn.com.
This week, I'm giving away award nominees - James Ziskin's Heart of Stone &
Hester Young's The Gates of Evangeline. Details on my blog,
http://www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com. Entries from the U.S. only,
Up in KRL this morning as a part of the Weddings to Die For
Blog Tour, we have reviews & giveaways of "Bel of the Brawl" by
Maggie McConnon & "Dying on the
Vine" by Marla Cooper & interviews with both of them
Also reviews & giveaways of 4 fun March food mysteries
from Penguin & Kensington authors-"Cold Pressed Murder" by Kelly
Lane, "Kneaded to Death" by Winnie
Archer, "Roux the Day" by Linda Wiken & "When the Grits Hit
the Fan" by Maddie Day
It is late summer in
Minnesota and just shortly after the events in Extreme
Prey. Virgil well knows what went on with his old boss Lucas
Davenport, so he isn’t surprised when those in charge of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are
very concerned about the Minnesota State Fair that starts in the next few days.
After any major event and the situation in Iowa certainly qualified, there are
Law Enforcement worries about copycats. However, Virgil isn’t going to work the
Instead, he will be
working the theft of two prized Amur Tigers from the Minnesota zoo. The zoo is
located in Apple Valley on the south side of Minneapolis and St. Paul. It is
the state zoo and that makes it a BCA problem. So too will the media spectacle
once they find out the big cats were tranquilized in their outdoor enclosure
and stolen in the night.
Because of the black
market that deals in such things, it is most likely the tigers were taken to be
turned into medicines. On the endangered species list because they are rare in
the wild, medicines from them are highly value in China. Time is of the essence
to find the tigers while they are still alive.
At the same time,
Virgil has a personal situation. Things have been going well with Frankie and
are moving into a serious direction. But, Virgil did not know Frankie has a
baby sister. After she and her boyfriend suddenly show up, he can see why.
Sparkle is back for a little while as she works on her dissertation on
undocumented seasonal migrant workers. Those involved don’t want to be
investigated at all.
Then the murders
The two storylines
take twists and turns as Virgil deals with one crisis after another.
Fortunately, he has backup and more than one person is a bad shot or things
could be much worse.
The latest in the Virgil
Flower series by John Sandford, Escape Clause, is another solidly
good read. As has happened before in this series, readers know from the start
who the bad guys are though not all of the motivations in their actions. That
becomes clear as the point of view shifts from them to Virgil and back again.
While not the best
read in the series, the book is a good read well worth your time.
It has been about a month, but Barry is back today
with another all new FFB review. In addition to having a review from Barry this
week, it also means you are spared another repeat review from me. Continue with
the good news by making sure you check out the full list of reading suggestions
over at Patti’s blog.
MR. MONK IN TROUBLE
(2009) by Lee Goldberg
Reviewed by Barry
“This is about a friend of
mine, Manny Feikema,” Captain Leland Stottlemeyer of the San Francisco Police
Department tells Adrian Monk and his assistant (and the novel’s narrator),
Natalie Teeger. “He retired about five years ago and moved to Trouble, a tiny
old mining town in the California gold country. Manny got bored after only a
couple of months, so he signed up as a security guard at the history museum
they have there…He was killed two nights ago while doing his rounds.”
Stottlemeyer wants Monk, a
former homicide cop and current departmental consultant, to go to Trouble to
track down Manny’s killer because he’s out of vacation days and can’t go
himself. The local police department is miniscule and “they don’t have the
experience or the resources to solve a murder,” Stottlemeyer explains. A fear
of tumbleweeds causes the obsessive-compulsive and germaphobic Monk to decline
the request until Natalie persuades him that she’ll protect him.
Trouble is one of many
towns that sprang up after the California gold rush of 1849, and Natalie tells
readers that “It was just as if we’d driven through a time warp and arrived in
the 1850s.” Monk, as fans of the television series and readers of earlier books
in the books based on it can imagine, is not thrilled at the prospect of
contending with a town in which, among other things, burros roam freely.
Mr. Monk in Trouble is a “twofer” of a novel, because in addition to
Adrian Monk’s sleuthing, readers are provided with sections from Abigail
Guthrie’s journal dating from 1855. She and her husband Hank left their
hardscrabble Kansas farm in 1852 after Hank learned about the gold rush. They
settled in Trouble because it was the first mining town they came to, and the
life there was at least as rigorous, if not more so, than it was in Kansas.
“…(W)e rarely panned more than six dollars a day worth of color, roughly six
pinches of gold dust, and with molasses at one dollar a bottle and flour going
for fifty cents a pound, we could barely keep ourselves fed.” The work and,
ultimately, illness took their tolls on Hank, and he died before reaching the
age of twenty-five. Abigail thus had to figure out how to survive on her own,
and wound up working for the town’s only assayer, a “peculiar and extraordinary
man who valued cleanliness and order above all else.” His name was Artemis
Monk, and in addition to assaying, he also helped the town’s sheriff with criminal
At Trouble’s historical
museum, Adrian Monk learns of another crime: the never-solved robbery in 1962 of
over $100,000 in gold coins from the Golden Rail Express, the locomotive from
which now resides in the museum. For years, people have searched for the stolen
coins, but none have ever turned up. Although he’s there to solve Manny
Feikema’s murder, Monk becomes obsessed with the robbery and its attendant
As with other books in this
series, in addition to solving the primary puzzles, Adrian Monk solves a number
of incidental ones. Similarly, the reader is treated via Abigail’s journal to
multiple mysteries solved by Artemis Monk, among them the robbery of the Golden
Rail Express in 1856.
I’ve read all of the
preceding books in this series, and I have to rank Mr. Monk in Trouble as one of the best. In addition to entertaining
the reader with multiple mysteries, it’s loaded with wonderful humor, much of
it in the conversations the two Monks have with their assistants and others.
Readers familiar with contemporary crime writers will notice that author Lee
Goldberg has some fun with a few characters’ names.
Those who liked the
original TV programs should definitely enjoy this novel. Those who have never
seen the TV series but who enjoy well-paced comical detective stories should enjoy
it, too. Highly recommended.
Purgatory Bay: A Novel by Bryan Gruley continues what began in Bleak Harbor . While not a straight sequel to the prior book, it feature...
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 medical supplies for me. Some of it goes to the purchase of various short story anthologies and collections which eventually are read and reviewed here.