Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Saturday, March 17, 2018

Review: Come Back to the Swamp

Come Back to the Swamp Come Back to the Swamp by Laura Morrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A darling, hopeful, and inspiring story, COME BACK TO THE SWAMP is a story of Cleary Swamp near Detroit, and the amazing adventures of a graduate student in Ecology. Bernice is determined on a Ph.D. track in environmental sciences, and part of her work is to try to eradicate invasive, non-native species. But in the swamp Bernice encounters a wild woman who insists she stop, because she is the swamp. Only a short time passes before the woman announces that Bernice is the swamp' s choice to replace her. Give up everything she's planned? Bernice thinks not, but this wild woman and the swamp definitely possess other, implacable, ideas.

I totally enjoyed this story. Suspension of disbelief was facile and nearly immediate (although not so for Bernice!)

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Friday, March 16, 2018

Review: Alter Ego

Alter Ego Alter Ego by Brian Freeman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

REVIEW: ALTER EGO by Brian Freeman
(Jonathan Stride #9)

I love this series and this novel is no exception. The plot, however, does deal with some especially painful and serious issues, including some very newsworthy. It's also heartwrenching, and I freely admit to reading heart in mouth, breath held.

A film is shooting in Duluth, inexplicably based on a crime Jonathan Stride investigated; Inexplicable because the screenwriter is the son of the accused. Stride isn't pleased, but worse is yet to come, including murders and the exposure of a serial sexual predator, and revelations impossible to predict.

The action is non-stop and breathless, the conclusion ultimately fulfilling.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Review: Code for Murder

Code for Murder Code for Murder by Eliot Parker
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Review: CODE FOR MURDER by Eliot Parker

Since her near-death in the Cuyahoga River, caused by a pair of criminals with few brain cells, Detective (now Lieutenant) Stacy Tavitt of the Cleveland Police Department has become a cold-hearted individual, a strong investigator but with difficulty in interpersonal encounters. When the corpse of a professional football player is discovered outdoors, the wounds clearly indicating a crime of passion, Stacy finds herself floundering in an unknown milieu, her investigative talents and her health stretched to the fullest.

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Review: Night Fall

Night Fall Night Fall by Simon R. Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: NIGHT FALL by Simon R. Green
(Secret Histories #12)

Author Simon Green brings to a conclusion his Secret Histories and the alternate dimension of London known as the Nightside. Where good and evil are not white and black but infinite shades of gray, where literally anything imaginable is available and so is the unimaginable, where anyone can lose wallet, life, soul: this is the Nghtside. Suddenly it's boundaries expand, so the Droods, the extended and extensive ancient clan sworn to protect Humanity, leaps into the fray. The results are disastrous, but the pace is unrelentingly riveting. I'm sorry to see the Nightside move offstage--but Mr. Green sure did it up right. An amazing finale.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review: The Woman in the Woods

The Woman in the Woods The Woman in the Woods by John Connolly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS by John Connolly (Charlie Parker #16)

The inimitable private detective Charlie Parker never disappoints, nor does his creator, John Connolly. Every adventure of Parker's is riveting, raising further the veil hiding the Other Side. In this novel, Charlie Parker becomes if possible more philosophical, more metaphysical, even more attuned to the supernatural, preternatural, the otherworldly. His deep and abiding capacity for self-analysis put me in mind of St. Teresa of Avila' s "The Interior Castle" (1588), an apt comparison given that the major villain here believes he has been alive since the Reformation.

As Parker faced down a continuing Nazi presence in
A SONG OF SHADOWS, here the political/cultural bogey is the rise of bigotry in the form of white supremacism, and Parker becomes my hero for life at the conclusion. Of course, racism is not the only villain here; even more terrifying is the threat of the literal End of All from the Not-Gods (yes, you read that correctly), and if that isn't sufficient, there are humans whose hatred is so all-encompassing as to render the End of All the preferred option.

This isn't my favorite Charlie Parker novel (not enough for me of my favorite series character); those remain A GAME OF GHOSTS; THE WOLF IN WINTER; and of course, THE REAPERS. But THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS is important, in the character evolution of Parker and Louis and lawyer Moxie Castin; more on the Backers, and the villains Quayle and Pallida Mors. It's also holds a very significant position in the supernatural milieu of this series.

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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Review: The Last Time I Lied

The Last Time I Lied The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: THE LAST TIME I LIED by Riley Sager

I leaped to read this psychological suspense novel because I had loved Riley Sager' s first pseudonymous novel, FINAL GIRLS. This one started a little slow for me, and I never really warmed up to the protagonist, whom I considered whiny and far too self-absorbed. However, it wasn't too long before I became engrossed in the story, and I thought both the denouement and the penultimate conclusion made the wait worth while. Then the final conclusion! Let me just add, this plot line is seriously twisty. Like the X-Files mantra, "Trust No One" is the order of the day here.

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Friday, March 9, 2018

Review: The New Neighbors

The New Neighbors The New Neighbors by Simon Lelic
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE NEW NEIGHBORS by Simon Lelic

Psychological thrillers, as a subgenre, are often billed or blurbed as "complex, riveting, horrifying." As a lifelong devourer of hauntings, I ponder: "horrifying? Really?" But sometimes this category of fiction delivers exactly that: I think of Ann Troup, Riley Sager, and now, of Simon Lelic. I really expected this engrossing novel to offer a spooky haunted house. There are hauntings, all right: individuals haunted by the past that is ever with them, the never-ending horror of their present, and more than one haunted by their own evil. So even though I didn't find the traditional haunted house, even though I didn't find a murderous neighbor, shades of Dr. Crippen, I found a riveting and compelling psychological mystery with plenty of past and present horror and more twists than an angry python.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Review: Winward

Winward Winward by Chad A. Clark
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WINWARD by Chad A. Clark

While I raced through this novella, all sorts of reference memories flocked in: Tom Deady' s WEEKEND GETAWAY, the B-film "Highway to Hell" with its psychotic cop, Twilight Zone, the original Outer Limits. All through that was the constant refrain "oh no oh no surely that won't happen" as if I myself was a character in a 1980's B-horror who doesn't know when to give up. The author warned me of the implacability in this story, and he sure didn't exaggerate: the "villain" is near to preternatural in his ability to be seemingly everywhere and to seemingly know everything. In this, I am reminded of Stoker' s Dracula.

The author who rocked my imagination with the ever-incredible CHILD AT THE END OF TIME has now given me another reason to sleep with all the lights on (or maybe not sleep at all).

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Review: Hangman

Hangman Hangman by Erin Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: HANGMAN by Erin Lee and Sara Schoen

HANGMAN is a gritty Noir tale with a significant theme of justice and human rights and the need for change in the justice system, from initial law enforcement at the street level on to punishment. A decade ago, a series of a dozen murders was attributed to an unidentified serial killer known as the Hangman. Now the Hangman is back, and he wants to play the traditional paper game with a young woman whose life dream had been to become a detective, until an accident put paid to that. But the Hangman isn't playing on paper, but on a macro scale, and the cost will be counted in lives lost or ruined.

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Monday, March 5, 2018

Review: My Hungry Friend

My Hungry Friend My Hungry Friend by Daniel Barnett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: MY HUNGRY FRIEND by Daniel Barnett

Literally I devoured this novella in one evening (and "devoured" is apropos here). This is my third read by Mr. Barnett {the first was THE SAFE, the second LONGREAVE} and once again, I found my mind and horizons incredibly stretched. (Again, "horizons" is apropos.) I was not fond of the protagonist (though I did appreciate his literate mother and her highly intelligent and perceptive caregiver). I just found dentist Mike one who took the easy road way too often (and was quite a bit a spoiled brat).

But the protagonist wasn't my focus in the story. Although he did undergo a character arc (devolution, then evolution), what fired my imagination was the truly Lovecraftian overlay. {It is not true that as a Lovecraft devotee I find Mythos anywhere.} The overlay world that Mr. Barnett illustrates is wildly imaginative and highly creative, and deserves a wild audience. If you like the imaginative ponderings of author Tim Meyer, do snatch up MY HUNGRY FRIEND.

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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Review: Shoggoth

Shoggoth Shoggoth by Byron Craft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: SHOGGOTH by Byron Craft

For a Lovecraft devotee such as myself, to discover a new Mythos author is sheer delight. SHOGGOTH is my first reading of Byron Craft. I perhaps chose SHOGGOTH to read first, because I spent January invested in rereads (and listening) of Lovecraft' s "At the Mountains of Madness," in which those bizarre creations, the Shoggoth, figure so prominently.

In this novel, the setting is not the frozen wilds of early 20th century Antarctica, but the U.S. Naval Weapons Center at China Lake, California. Deep in the Mojave Desert are petroglyphs tens of thousands of years old, inexplicable hieroglyphs, and impossible monsters. For the history and science we learn in school missed out on a lot, including Elder Gods.

SHOGGOTH strongly resonates with HPL' s "At the Mountains of Madness" and "The Shadow Out of Time," with the latter's explication of a long-term "Walk-In" experience caused by a race of Elder Gods (regardless of the effect on the human recipient). Mr. Croft also strums one of Lovecraft' s most cherished themes: when science and philosophy's driving quest for knowledge meets that which humanity is not meant to discover, something's gonna break (usually sanity).

I had a totally enjoyable time reading SHOGGOTH. In fact, I found myself envying the characters their exploration of hidden prehistory and their Lovecraftian encounters.

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Saturday, March 3, 2018

Review: Soul Siphon

Soul Siphon Soul Siphon by T.L. Branson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

ASH AND STEEL by T. L. Branson

I really enjoyed this tremendously fast-paced fantasy short story, and I'm eager to delve into the upcoming series. Any time I like fantasy, pay heed; it's not my general genre. This story was non-stop suspense, heightened emotions, and I really liked the magical element. The respectful tension between Drago and his Master of Arms, Callum, and between Drago and the Lord Commander, and Drago and his enemy king, are super cool. Then there was the denouement--do good!

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Review: The Shawcross Letters: My Journey Into The Mind Of Evil

The Shawcross Letters: My Journey Into The Mind Of Evil The Shawcross Letters: My Journey Into The Mind Of Evil by John Paul Fay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: THE SHAWCROSS LETTERS by John Paul Fay

Years ago I read a poignant description in a novel that I've never forgotten. The title and author I don't remember, but this sentence is indelible. It describes a patient, in an asylum or care home: "Only her eyes were alive, and they burned like those of someone who looked frequently into Hell." I firmly visualized, and still do; today, reading THE SHAWCROSS LETTERS, I feel it. I feel I've opened a book and I feel I've peered directly into Hades. Reader, if you've ever wondered if evil exists, if in human form there are those beyond the pale, wonder no longer. Remember: not all the dangerous ones are imprisoned. Out there are those whose thought processes don't even enter the same universe as us. We humans are fodder--just fodder.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Review: Darkest Night

Darkest Night Darkest Night by Tara Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: DARKEST NIGHTS by Tara Thomas

If you want to know how the 10% live and love, try this mystery/romantic suspense. If you're curious about the links some will go to in order to.maintain their status, or to feed their greed, or to boost their status (or just cause they're sadistic, cruel, and unconscionable), take a close look at DARKEST NIGHTS. The War Between the States was not the only trouble that came to Charleston.

DARKEST NIGHTS is a fast-paced and sometimes gritty mystery that will entice and enthrall fans of Romantic Suspense.

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Review: The Goat Parade

The Goat Parade The Goat Parade by Peter N. Dudar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Release Feb. 27

Review: THE GOAT PARADE by Peter N. Dudar

First off, THE GOAT PARADE is my personal choice for one of the Best of 2018. I'd always wonder how readers and reviewers selected "Best of Year" early in a calendar year; now I know! THE GOAT PARADE is non-stop excitement, thrills, sheer unadulterated terror, and some of the deepest characterization I've read.

Author Peter Dudar doesn't stop with human characters, though he delves into each very deeply, exposing their past and future (for those allowed a future). One ongoing character is Old Scratch (yes, you know who I mean), the character who contains all the selfishness, all the greed, all the evil; and this novel is rife with evil, and Evil. THE GOAT PARADE is incredibly and indelibly gory, visceral, and outre, out of this world. I spent the entire novel wondering who would survive, for the horror is Juggernaut-imp'relacable. Every time a character thinks he or she exercises free will, they always discover their lives are fully designed by Old Scratch, for his own purposes, and there's no escape.

My cautionary warning: this novel is full-on extreme horror. It deals with such potentially triggering topics as incest, torture, rape, mutilation, murder, Satanism, serving the Dark Lord, childhood abuse, controlled substances, and more. So sensitive readers, slip away.

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Monday, February 26, 2018

Review: Her Mourning Portrait and Other Paranormal Oddities

Her Mourning Portrait and Other Paranormal Oddities Her Mourning Portrait and Other Paranormal Oddities by John Brhel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


WILDLY IMAGINATIVE! With a continuing frisson of perturbation, each story deals with relationships: between mortals, between deceased, between mortals and deceased. In this collection, Love never ends. Nor does Vengeance, or Betrayal.

Almost every story in this collection I found unsettling. Many are perturbing,several are disturbing. All set hooks in my imagination and refuse to be uprooted. I actually feel like a different individual for reading this collection--more aware, far more imaginative.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Review: Defiant Souls

Defiant Souls Defiant Souls by Kathleen Chadwick
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Review: DEFIANT SOULS by Kathleen Chadwick

"The Devil walks to and fro throughout the Earth." In this novel, that's exactly what he does. Walks, hitchhikes, builds a desert ghost town/mirage, and summons followers. You see, "the Devil came down to Southern Utah, looking for a soul to steal." {Okay, I changed the wording a little...} Stealing souls, calling out followers, interfering in a classified military/government complex hex--er, compound, and confiscating the project's most important Secret (and ultimate weapon). But hey, he's Lucifer; who's gonna stop him?? And that, as the late Paul Harvey orated, is The Rest of The Story...

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Review: Operation Cairo

Operation Cairo Operation Cairo by Lisa Klink
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


In serial format (shades of Charles Dickens), OPERATION CAIRO leaps head-first into the very high-ticket black market of artifact smuggling. From the lowly locals paid a pittance to dig for artifacts in the desert (in this case, in Egypt) through the "fences," on to smugglers who ship concealed artifacts within legal cargo, eventually to high-end art galleries whose clientele collectors are greedy to increase their collection, and careless as to provenance, cost, or legality.

Language expert, FBI Intelligence Division Agent, Georgetown-educated Cairo native Layla al-Deeb synchronistically becomes a part of a new sting to break this black market scheme, which has been twisted to fund terrorists. The downtrodden child of the most disrespected area of Cairo now is undercover infiltrating the very top society echelons in her native metropolis, among greedy, uncaring, fabulously wealthy strangers. Layla is a stranger in her own land, becoming a stranger to herself. A rapid-paced read, OPERATION CAIRO sets its protagonists as a pigeon among cats, and her high intellect and gift for languages must translate into a chameleonic ability to pass as a scion of High Society.

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Review: Primogen: Origin of Monsters

Primogen: Origin of Monsters Primogen: Origin of Monsters by Ramsey Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The first word for this anthology is WOW!! Then, AWESOME!! Editor Donelle Pardee Whiting chose an absolutely stellar cast and truly superb stories. From the breathtaking first story, right through the last, I marveled, I boggled, I feared, and surely I didn't breathe. This is a truly outstanding anthology.

If you're really courageous, lock the doors, turn off the lights, read at night. If these stories don't raise goosebumps, stand hair on end {reading turned me into a twin of the Bride of Frankenstein....and speaking of twins....}, if this collection doesn't turn your hair white and leave you cowering in your Panic Room...well, you're braver than me.

One last note: thanks to the continuing generosity of Stitched Smile Publications, I was enormously privileged to read this anthology, in advance. But--on release date, I purchased a copy. That's how highly I value PRIMOGEN.

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Review: The Highwayman

The Highwayman The Highwayman by Matt Manochio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE HIGHWAYMAN by Matt Manochio

It's not uncommon for me to get involved in a book; that's part of my role and gift as reader. To become involved as deeply as happened with THE HIGHWAYMAN, is rare. I rode an emotional roller coaster with this novel. Part of that is the sensitive subject matter. Part is the author's courage in putting out there some really horrible individuals. Part is the plot itself; I'm sure readers will divide on who is ethically right and who is not. Then there was the denouement and climax, which left me astonished, astounded, and yes, speechless. I continued pondering that, and was further awestruck by the ending. Oh my, oh my, oh my.

This novel is very topical, very present. Dealing with the criminal justice system, with crimes often unreported or unpunished, with authority and its abuse (by individuals, not just "the system.") Unfortunately for our society, the story also rings all together too realistic. I came away with a strong drive "to speak Truth to power," as the author very much does here, and I also concluded with awe at Mr. Manocchio' s gifted output. My applause!

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Review: Waking the Ancients

Waking the Ancients Waking the Ancients by Catherine Cavendish
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WAKING THE ANCIENTS by Catherine Cavendish

Some dark magic never dies. Some historical figures should not be returned to life {Idi Amin, Stalin, Pol Pot. Cleopatra and her sister}.

Paula and Phil Bancroft have just signed a three-year tenancy on a lovely mansion in the extraordinarily historied and cultured city of Vienna, Austria. Phil holds a significant post at the UN, and Paula is an artist and former history teacher. Unfortunately she is also psychically vulnerable, and their lovely new home is possessed by an evil magician/ archaeologist who will literally stop at nothing and no one to bring Cleopatra back to life (or some semblance of life).

Catherine Cavendish can unfailingly be counted on to scare readers senseless as simultaneously we find ourselves totally engrossed with her realistic characters. This haunting tale is second in the new WRATH OF THE ANCIENTS Trilogy.

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