Monthly Archives: January 2012

Book Review – The Steel Deal

The Steel Deal – A Unique Voice in the Gumshoe Genre

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: James Blakely
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Gumshoe Sonny Busco is broke.  Worse than broke, he owes everyone – big time.  With loan sharks on his tail and his security gig not paying enough to keep up with the bills, he struggles to get from one end of town to the other in his junker car.  Enter Pixy – young, attractive, in trouble, and willing to pay $2500.00 up front for Sonny to simply deliver a package to Santa Fe.  What could be easier?  Exactly.  Too easy, and Sonny knows it.  Things quickly breakdown and Sonny finds himself beaten and confused.  Whose side is he working for anyway?

James Blakely’s “The Steal Deal” reads like an homage to Mickey Spillane Mike Hammer novels replete with witty repartee and smug confidence displayed by Blakely’s larger than life PI – Sonny Busco.  With female character names like Pixy, Bambi, and Bevel Brand, it is no surprise Busco throws out lines like there is no tomorrow.  The novel’s overall voice and narrative is perfectly executed. Just take a read of this passage:
“…the figure’s deep-set eyes, red-veined and volcanic, fixed an unflinching gaze directly on me.  When the figure’s stiletto-then lips split, a hideous smile lunged for me…”.  Great stuff!

This book was a lot of fun to read.  No one talks the way Busco talks, but that is sort of the point of it all.  Enjoy the character for who he is.  Beyond the wonderful characterization and unique voice, there are also a number of surprising plot twists and turns and just when I thought I had it all figured out, I was surprised again.  If this is your style read, you’ll love “The Steel Deal”.

I look forward to future Sonny Busco cases.

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

Book Review – A Trip to the Water’s Edge

A Trip to the Water’s Edge – Murder and Mayhem Mattie Mitchell Style!

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Mary Berger
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Mattie Mitchell and her friend Clare are a pair that seem to attract trouble.  While out hiking they witness a murder, later they get involved in uncovering the truth behind a potential poisoning plot, and if that isn’t enough their attempts at pottery nearly run their instructor into retirement!  But can Mattie and her friend solve all of these mysteries before they become victims themselves?

Mary Berger’s “A Trip to the Waters Edge” is a tongue-in-cheek chic-lit murder mystery.  The beginning starts off with a gripping witness of a brutal murder but I’ll admit I was a little surprised that the main characters did not react as seriously to the crime that I would have expected.  The storyline leaves the murder arc and takes an interesting turn into a potential poisoning at Autumn Leaves along with another arc devoted to the ladies adventures at a pottery class.  I didn’t understand why these seemingly unrelated story arcs were injected in the narrative when the murder seemed to be the central element at the beginning so the story slowed down a bit for me in the first half of the book.  However, the second half finds its pace and all of what I thought were distracting and unnecessary side journeys actually come together at the end.

For those who like a light hearted humorous murder mystery, check out “A Trip to the Water’s Edge”.  The characters are a hoot and you’ll wonder what Mattie and Clare will get into next!

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

Book Review: Twin-Bred

Twin-Bred: A Richly Imaginative and Thoughtful Look into First Contact

Rating: 5 of 5
Author: Karen Wyle
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Communicating with the planet’s indigenous species – the Tofa – was close to impossible for the human colony.  As a result, it was inevitable that tensions between the two races continued to escalate.  If there was going to be long term success and at least a neutral if not successful partnership between Tofa and Humans, something different needed to be tried.  One scientist – Mara Cadell – suggests something radical – an experiment of sorts – but one that could forever change the interaction between species and potentially create a new ruling class.  Working on the theory that twin born children share a special bond of communication due to their unique shared experience, Cadell hypothesizes that a human / Tofa twin pair could potentially form bounds, empathy, and communications not otherwise possible.  But Dr. Cadell has a secret that neither the Tofa or Human know – a secret that could either spell success for her experiment or result in its failure.

Karen Wyle’s “Twin Bred” is a richly unique and imaginative look into the challenges of first contact with an alien species.  This is not a laser gun, spaceship, shoot ‘em up popcorn flick of a novel, but a well paced progression into an intriguing situation of two species hesitant and more than just a little suspicious of one another.  Wyle crafts a tale following the grand experiment first through the chosen mothers of each species then the eventual birth and cohabitation and maturation of the offspring and their challenges.  Though there is little in the way of action to drive the plot forward, I could not put down Twin-Bred in much the same way I was addicted to Nathan Lowell’s Trader Tales series.

The story’s uniqueness and Wyle’s ability to carefully inject numerous thought provoking concepts were the reasons I had to give this five stars though I would have liked a stronger climax and ending.  And while the main story arc is complete, I see how a series could be made from this concept (which I would gladly read).  If you like works from Heinlein and Lowell, I think you will definitely enjoy Twin-Bred.

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