Monthly Archives: December 2011

Book Review – Final Mercy

Final Mercy – Castle Meets ER!

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Frank Edwards
Format: Paperback, Kindle

After his mentor retired as dean, emergency department (ED) director Jack Forester found himself on the wrong side of a political battle with interim dean Bryson Winter, MD.  What had been a foregone conclusion with the hospital directors regarding modernization of the ED, under Winter has become a battle that Jack is quickly losing putting his department and his career in jeopardy.  Soon, however, Jack and an out of state reporter learn there may be more than just politics at work after a string of suspicious suicides of hospital staff occur.  Will Jack discover the horrifying truth before he is added to the list of victims?

The strength of Frank Edwards – Final Mercy – is his intimate knowledge of the inner workings of hospital administration back room politics and medical expertise that shines in this novel.  With just enough details to give credibility to the medical issues presented without being over the top technically, Edwards strikes just the right balance in his narrative.  The pace is leisurely at the beginning of the book leading the reader to conclude this is perhaps just a story of hospital politics.  About half way through, however things pick up speed nicely and the depth of Winter as a character is revealed.  Edwards does an exceptionally good job showing how such a high intellect suffering from a bit of psychosis can be such a dangerous combination.  Winter is the perfect manipulator playing chess with the lesser minds around him and Edwards conveys this prowess masterfully.

Overall, this reminded me of a nice mix of the television shows ER and Castle – good medical drama with murder mystery mixed in.  This is a gem of a find and I urge readers to pick up a copy.

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

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Book Review – Fearmaker: Family Matters

Fearmaker: Family Matters – A Deviously Clever Novel

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Terry Castle
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Twelve-year-old Adam Castle has a secret, one he can hardly believe himself had he not heard the words straight from his parents mouths.  The secret?  His father is a cold blooded psychopathic murderer.  And he seemed so nice.  But what to do?  Could it really be?  Adam goes on a quest to confirm the awful suspicion he has, but after intercepting a package for his father – one with a cutoff toe inside – he is certain.  Armed with his friend and video camera in hand to document his findings, Adam goes on a quest to save the next victim who just happens to be the cutest girl in school.  But will his parents learn he knows their secret before he can save her?

Terry Castle’s “Fearmaker” is a deviously clever novel.  It quickly sucks in the reader into a world of a twelve year old boy and any reluctant reader of similar age will easily become absorbed in the engaging story line.    The book is, however, fairly gruesome in its descriptions though not necessarily over the top. None-the-less, parents may wish to read this book first before letting their kids jump in.  If you do, read all the way through before making any judgements.  And without giving the plot away, things work out in the end making this much less macabre than I thought it was going to be (which is why it is deviously clever!).

Castle is the real life daughter of horror film maker William Castle and it is easy to see where her inspiration comes from.  Is this really fiction or was life at the Castle household a little like this?  One can only wonder!

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – Run, Run, Run

Run Run Run – Trust No-one when on the Run

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Mark Capell
Format: Kindle

After witnessing a brutal murder, Dan Thompson decides to do his civic duty to ensure the man who has committed the crime is punished for his actions.  Unfortunately, that man is one of the country’s most wanted crime bosses.  Frank Tong, a crime family assassin, is sent to eliminate Dan and his wife, but government handlers arrive just ahead of Tong and whisk the couple away. To ensure their ongoing safety, the government removes all evidence of the couple’s old lives and enters them into the Witness Protection Scheme.  Unfortunately, Dan and Sally find the program is anything but safe and only through a bit of luck are they able to escape Tong’s clutches and go forever on the run.

Mark Capell’s “Run, Run, Run” is a wonderfully paced thriller.  I especially enjoyed the rich and multi-dimensional characters Capell creates.  The protagonist, Frank Tong, is a self-mutilating psychotic murderer but he is definitely not the stereotypical killer as Frank’s inner demons also evoke incredibly evocative artwork.  As for Dan and Sally not only is their relationship strained given their situation as each struggles with the lives they have lost but also the life they are creating both figuratively and literally.  Who are they becoming in their new fictionalized world?  This careful consideration and attention to characterization by Capell adds a depth to a what could have been just a nicely paced and engaging plot.

Finally, I enjoyed the interesting local that the UK provides in this novel – the Cornwall area is well described and the unique challenges faced by UK law enforcement add yet another wrinkle to the mix.

Capell’s Run, Run, Run is available on Kindle.

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – Touring for Death

Touring for Death – Action in Arizona

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: D.V. Berkom
Format: Kindle

After leaving Hawaii, Kate Jones decides to stop running from her past and heads to Arizona working as a tour guide taking customers into the beautiful and dangerous mountain mesas.  Returning from one such journey with a family of four, the brakes in her jeep give out hurtling them downhill with little control.  Through a bit of luck, Kate and her passengers barely survive the ordeal.  As the days pass, Kate learns of a number of recent deaths which all share a common thread.  They were all a part of recent tours that she had led.  Is it her drug lord ex-boyfriend hunting her down once more, or is something else happening to Kate and will she figure it out before it is too late?

D.V. Berkom’s “Touring for Death” is the latest in the Kate Jones series of books.  Similar to the preceding book – “Death Rites” – Berkom has added plot complexity to her patented action packed writing style.  This is a bit more of a murder mystery than the other books and there are just enough hints provided along the way that the reader has the opportunity to figure out who done. But it won’t be easy, at least it wasn’t for me.

If you’ve liked early books by Berkom, you are sure to enjoy this one even more.  This is one of the longer books by Berkom and has good pace balance throughout.  As with all her books, this is another great value for the money.  And although reading previous Kate Jones books will give context to “Touring for Death” this is really a stand alone chapter in the ongoing saga and readers new to Berkom can easily start with this novel and not miss a beat.

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – Death Rites

Death Rites – Hawaiian Bad Spirits

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: D.V. Berkom
Format: Kindle

After narrowly escaping death in Alaska, Kate Jones finds herself again on the run.  Unfortunately, bad spirits have a tendency to find her wherever she goes and soon, death follows her once more.  But something is different, and those who are after her are out for something much different than money or revenge and Kate suddenly finds her world and all she knows turned upside down.

In this installment of the series, Berkom introduces a bit of a twist in the Kate Jones series.  I’m reluctant to give away too much of the plot line but lets say I think that this deviation from the Jones formula was a nice surprise which added mystery elements to her patented action movie style writing.  I do feel sorry for poor Kate who is definitely a magnet for bad luck. I don’t think her life will ever slow down!

Fans of the series will enjoy this chapter of the story.  Next up is Touring for Death. Well have to see what trouble Kate gets herself this time!  Always a great bargain on Kindle, download a sample and I’m sure you’ll get pulled in to the Kate Jones adventures!

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review

Book Review – Dead of Winter

Dead of Winter – Bad Spirits in the Alaskan Wilderness

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: D.V. Berkom
Format: Kindle

Hiking alone in the wintery Alaskan wilderness, Kate Jones witnesses an execution style murder.  It is then she realizes that the life she had escaped five years earlier had caught up to her.  Running out and stealing money from her south-of-the-border drug-lord boyfriend had turned into a life sentence of constant moving and looking over her back.  How he had found her she didn’t know, but what she did know is that to stay alive she would once more have to stay one step ahead of her fate.  But can she save those around her as well as herself?

D.V Berkom’s Dead of Winter is the first book in the second series of books that pick up where the Bad Spirits series left off.  Berkom’s writing is crisp and fast paced.  Her descriptions are so refined and precise I could almost fell the chill and tension Kate experienced each step of the way.  Action packed with a heart pounding rate, this brief novel is like a episode of 24 and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.

I enjoyed this series even more than the first as Berkom has added to the action by introducing some depth through a romantic interest.  The pacing is balanced well with no hint of the dues ex machina elements that were occasionally found in the first series of books.  The Kindle price is an unbelievable value.  You won’t be disappointed if you check out this series.

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – My Sister’s Funeral

My Sister’s Funeral – Murder from Down Under

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Stephen Bush
Format: Kindle

Greeting mourners as they arrive at his sister Maria’s funeral, James knew this day was inevitable.  Though she had disappeared when he was only ten, the aftermath of that event had effected every aspect of his life including his troubled relationship with his parents, confused sexual urges, and eventual disintegration of his marriage.  But after all these years, the question still remained, what had happened, who had killed her, and why?  Was it one of these very people who had come to pay their respects or had fate already gotten even and taken the life of her murderer?

My Sister’s Funeral, by Stephen Bush, is a gripping murder mystery read.  Through vivid characterization, Bush describes an eclectic mix of friends and family all with varying motivations to have possibly committed the murder.  His unveiling of Maria’s past is well paced though at times it was bit difficult to follow the time line – what was happening in the present time versus the frequent flashbacks.  Bush is strong with his narrative and uses dialogue sparingly.

What I enjoyed most in this book, though, was how well Bush gets the reader inside James’ confused head and his need for closure on so many levels whether with his family, ex-wife, or his murdered sister.  And while Maria was killed, in many ways James suffered a longer and more painful torture that Bush conveys thoughtfully.  I will admit I had no idea who the murdered was until it was finally revealed; perhaps those more astute than I will pick up on the subtle clues and while the question of “who done it” drives the story forward, I think My Sister’s Funeral is best appreciated as a character exploration.

Note: A complementary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.