Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Murder, She Encountered - A Review

Murder, She Encountered 

Peg Cochran

Peg Cochran has written the perfect cozy mystery:
  • A good mystery
  • Likable (most of them, anyhow; at least one is a murderer) and believable characters
  • Dysfunctional families
  • Historical setting 
  • A light touch of romance
Elizabeth “Biz” Adams is the crime photographer for the New York Daily Trumpet. Ralph Kaminsky is the reporter to which she is assigned. Together, with Detective Sal Marino (Biz’s “boyfriend?”), they will need to identify and find the murderer of the unidentified young man pulled from one of the lakes at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

Along with a fun jaunt through the fairgrounds and the subway system transporting visitors to and from the fair, we also get a glimpse of the historical events and settings of the era. This reviewer was particularly fascinated with the mention, albeit brief, of the SS. (sic) St. Louis’ arrival from Europe. Though the details are not discussed in the current book, a quick search of Google showed how similar the attitude of Americans in 1939 parallel those of many Americans in the 21st century, with similar results.

For the reader looking for a historical novel or just a good cozy mystery, Murder, She Encountered might just hit the spot.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Synapse - A Review


Steven James

It was in 1999 that I first was faced with the issue of robotics and humanity as I watched Robin Williams’ humanity develop over 200 years. In the final scene, Robin’s robot character is worn out - he lays down and “dies”. His current owner, the great-granddaughter of the original owner, has had so many body parts replaced with computer upgrades that the only way she can die is to ask the nurse (another robot) to turn her off.

Synapse addresses many of the same issues - only it does not occur 200 years into the future but 30 years into the future.

Kestrel has just lost a baby during childbirth; her brother, Trevor, buys her “an artificial”, Jordan. Jordan is special in that he has a history and he begins to question his own relationship to God. It takes three explosions, a corrupt technology company, and groups of normals, plussers (those augmented with technology - be it arms, eyes, hearts, etc.), and artificials, to find a resolution to the crisis facing that future world.

The book read like a light cozy mystery, but it is science fiction that addresses difficult issues - grief, evil, love, forgiveness, etc. Written with a strong Christian message as it addresses these issues, the book is a well-written novel offering hope. I do not know if the author is considering additional books based on these characters, this reviewer hopes so.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Special Access - A Review

Special Access


Mark A Hewitt

Originally published in 2013, this book is partly political thriller and partly historical fiction. Yet it reads as if it were aimed at a contemporary 2019 American public.

The plot is intriguing and draws the reader into the story which takes place over a twelve-year period from 1999 to 2011. The reader is walked through the trauma of September 11, 2001, and the taking of Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011. The story assumes that bin Laden was not disposed of in the Indian Ocean as was announced publically, but instead was taken alive and interrogated by a team of independent ex-Seals and other special ops personnel before dying. The author’s background is ideal for imagining a story wrapped in the world of espionage and the special ops military troops which are the highlight of the story. The author’s knowledge of aircraft history and the use of quiet aircraft during the Vietnam War added an additional sense of realism to the story.

Though having a unique and intensive plot, the book does have its flaws. The timeline is not linear and dates each chapter. Other times it arises as the author introduces the characters’ recall of their own backstories. This non-linear flow of events makes the story difficult to follow at times. The book is very political - Democrats are consistently equated to communists. The Democratic President toward the end of the book is not named, but is described as having “large ears”. At times the story seemed to drag - as if the reader were required to carry a heavy load as he or she moved through the book. It should be noted that a movie based upon the book would be rated “R” as there seemed to be an abundance of unnecessary violence and sexuality. Personally, if I had known the extremes these elements pervaded the story, I would have avoided the book and chosen to spend my time reviewing another book.

It is this combination of a good story and the book’s limitations which force me into writing a 2½ star review.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Deadly Deceit - A Review

Deadly Deceit 

Natalie Walters

The Watcher is there - watching. Though discovered in small-town Walton, GA, he had a reach across the country as he tried to destroy people’s lives. It would take the coordinated work of Vivian DeMarco, writer for Walton’s local newspaper, and Deputy Ryan Frost, recently returned from a training course offered by the FBI, to gather the clues and piece together the evidence that would point to the man or woman responsible for the blackmail and murder which was becoming all too regular for this Georgian village.

Vivian had to learn forgiveness, a lesson she missed during her youth after discovering her father deserted his family and was a fraud as well. Her friend Lane would remind her

The right kind of love isn’t earned, Vivian. I can’t tell you how many years I’ve spent being someone else’s idea of perfect, trying to earn their love and affection only to be reminded—painfully—how imperfect I am. That’s the beauty of godly love. The kind that is forgiving, unwarranted, undeserving, and unconditional. (3314/5101)

It would not be a lesson easily learned, but one she would need to grapple with if she were to discover real peace.

Written for those who enjoy Christian or romantic suspense, there are lessons that most believers need to hear repeatedly. The book will find a welcome spot in the public or church library. It might also find a welcoming spot under someone’s Christmas tree. The plot might make a great story for a Lifetime movie, though it would be a bit dark for a Hallmark feature.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.