Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Review: Holy Ghost

Holy Ghost Holy Ghost by John Sandford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: HOLY GHOST by John Sandford
(Virgil Flowers #11)

Virgil Flowers is definitely not the ordinary criminal investigator. As an investigator for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension of Minnesota, he doesn't have a specified territory, so he's kind of a roaming agent. In this case, he is called to the small town of Wheatfield after two shootings of out-of-towners who are visiting to see the Marian apparitions. Yes, apparently the Virgin Mary is appearing in a tiny Minnesota community, just as at Fatima and Lourdes. Her apparition has enormously blossomed the town economy, which had seriously declined. Tourism means cash for the community, and Mayor Holland, a disabled Afghanistan vet, and his sidekick Skinner, an eighteen-year-old quite intelligent and crafty high school senior, are cashing in at their new emporium.

Meanwhile, first one visitor is shot and wounded, then a second. After Virgil Flowers arrives to investigate, a third victim, a local senior citizen, is shot and killed. Despite the crowds waiting near the church, no one ever hears a shot or sees anyone carrying a rifle. Virgil discovers an earlier murder and robbery, which had gone unnoticed for two weeks.

For quite a while, it seems that Virgil's investigation, and that of two other BCA agents, despite providing a lot of humour, isn't helping and perhaps is making matters worse, as the violence continues. But eventually, all comes to light, exposing a seriously twisted and convoluted rationale.

I think this is the first in the Virgil Flowers series I had read, although I had read some of Mr. Sandford's earlier novels, and I've become a convert. Virgil is a diligent yet laid-back investigator, there's a lot of humor, and the case is seemingly inexplicable with a twisted denouement and conclusion. HOLY GHOST is well worth checking out.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Review: Garden of Eldritch Delights

Garden of Eldritch Delights Garden of Eldritch Delights by Lucy A. Snyder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I mentally screeched. Literally. I've read some fantastically far out Reader's Hooks, but this one is out beyond Pluto someplace. What makes it even more astonishing and fantastic is the subtlety. Ms. Snyder relates stories as if the outre is simply commonplace (which I guess, for her characters, is true). I easily understand why this author is a full-time Bram Stoker Award winner. This collection will surely win too (and maybe the World Fantasy Award too?) But, don't rely only on my take; go get the book, watch the top of your head fly off too.

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Monday, October 15, 2018

Review: Red City Blues: A Thrilling Crime Novella

Red City Blues: A Thrilling Crime Novella Red City Blues: A Thrilling Crime Novella by Tom Fowler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: RED CITY BLUES by Tom Fowler

I am always engrossed and never disappointed by the exploits of young P. I., C.T. Ferguson of Baltimore. A personable young man from a wealthy family, he isn't the expected type of routine investigator. A university graduate, he is also a talented hacker. Often snarky, a little egotistical, he's always a joy. Here he takes on an unforgivable set of cases, and unwinds the truth about supposed gang killings--before it's really too late for the City of Baltimore.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Review: EVOLVED: A modern sci-fi thriller

EVOLVED: A modern sci-fi thriller EVOLVED: A modern sci-fi thriller by Jesse Lawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: EVOLVED by Jesse Lawson

I admire a good tecnothriller, and EVOLVED is beyond "good": it is exceptional. I tend to be a fan of cephalopods as a Lovecraftian (though 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea certainly scared me as a child), and I got to learn a lot about the species while reading EVOLVED. From the terrifying reader's hook right through, the novel rings a lot of my "must-have" bells and gave me a lot of characters from whom to choose where to place my empathy. Plus, I loved the science. All win all the way--can't wait for the next in series.

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Review: What Can't be True

What Can't be True What Can't be True by Bo Thunboe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Sometimes I read a novel and think how glad I am it's the first in a series. Sometimes I read a debut novel, and am amazed at the author's gift. Both examples are true in this delightfully twisted, complex, and convoluted mystery set near Chicago. From the seemingly bumbling "can't-catch-a-break" killer in the terrific reader's hook, there was never a dull moment and the author utilizes some of my favorite odd types of characters. Really happy this is a series.

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Review: The Flats

The Flats The Flats by Kate Birdsall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE FLATS by Kate Birdsall

A gripping Rust-Belt Police Noir, THE FLATS engrossed me immediately and kept the pace, and the tension, ratcheted high. I was reminded strongly of Carol O'Connell's Detective Mallory, the orphaned abused child adopted by a city homicide detective and his wife, who grew up to become a talented, but off-the-wall homicide detective herself. So Detective Elizabeth Boyle resonates with me as a character, and the mystery is taut and seemingly inexplicable.

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Sunday, October 7, 2018

Review: The Field

The Field The Field by Ian Dawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE FIELD by Ian Dawson

I found this novel both heartwarming and tremendously disturbing. I recommend very sensitive readers pass; the novel includes a deadly monster-in-human-form, abuse of children, and torture. It details an outstanding friendship, and another friendship that is not friendship at all but a murderous psychopath's control over another. Think an adolescent Bundy, or the two British boys who abducted and murdered a toddler. It boggles the mind.

On the positive side, this debut novel is very well-written, and details the coming of age of two good-hearted boys through their unconditional friendship. I applaud Daniel and Kyle and their families. I wish more families were this strong in integrity and character.

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Friday, October 5, 2018

Review: Unspeakable Grudges

Unspeakable Grudges Unspeakable Grudges by P H Turner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


UNSPEAKABLE GRUDGES is a fascinating mystery-thriller with a really weird, and really unusual, serial killer. The story gets down to the nitty-gritty of crime and violence (including child abuse and rape) so easily sensitive readers take note. The novel proceeded at such a rapid pace that I raced through in just a few hours, not about to take a break. (Smile) I really became engaged with the characters ( even those I didn't like, of whom there were several), and the plotting kept me engrossed. High recommendations--I can't wait for the author's next mystery.

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Review: The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club

The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club by Holly Tierney-Bedord
My rating: 0 of 5 stars


I loved this novel. There were several characters whom I quite liked and admired, and a few whom I wanted to toss into the nearby ocean (the proximity of which gives Port Elspeth its elan--that and the extensive and pretentious wealthy class). The story is a winning combination of Women's fiction, and cozy mystery. Yes, there was quite a mystery, nearly five years earlier, which provides a powerful reader's hook to commence the novel, and which continues to rear its puzzles throughout. The Past is Always Present in Port Elspeth, it seems, even for those who didn't live through it.

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Review: Camp Redwood: A Short Slasher Horror Novel

Camp Redwood: A Short Slasher Horror Novel Camp Redwood: A Short Slasher Horror Novel by Nathan Galion
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Review: CAMP REDWOOD by Nathan Galion
There are good reasons why I refuse to camp. All of them come from horror fiction, horror films, and true crime. CAMP REDWOOD is an admirable reprise of the classic horror trope of camping danger + serial killer with an axe to grind (punning), but author Nathan Galion in his debut novel brings some enticing new elements into the trope. Yes, we have a small group of university students going camping, in celebration of two of their number just becoming engaged. Yes, we have a Serial Killer with a driving need to kill. Yes, the Serial Killer has good reasons to target this particular group. Yes, we have a past history of child abuse, manslaughter, and one stalwart friend.

Here's where the differences from the usual trope treatment arise: stalwart friend is a Witch. Yes, I am serious. Actually, in my consideration, she is not a Witch as much as she is an Occult Magickian, because it is Dark Arts she is practicing, not Herbal Medicine and White Magic. She practices Necromancy. That's Dark Arts, Gentle Readers. She (Tonya) is a 15-year-old camper at the illustrious and well-appointed Camp Redwood (in the South), who befriends the congenitally deformed twelve-year-old son of one of the camp counselors (a woman who possesses a plethora of psychological problems). Tonya is Dylan's only friend, because everyone else (including his mother) is too shallow to see beyond his obvious disfigurements and find a positive character and good intentions. When Dylan is bullied by a trio of elitist, “silver-spoon” campers, Tonya runs for help, but not in time, and Dylan dies tragically, due to manslaughter. Tonya doesn't stop there though, and her subsequent actions directly affect the locality of Camp Redwood and the nearby Lake Tulpa over the years. [I get quite a kick out of the Lake's name, since a Tulpa is a concept in Tibetan Mysticism, in which an Entity is created by Thought and functions independently.]

Dylan's killing and Tonya's subsequent decisions and actions occur in the Summer of 1983. The seven University students, all unknowing, camp near Lake Tulpa in 2013, 3 decades later. In many ways, their presence is no accident nor is it coincidence, as will be revealed later in the book.

I would have given CAMP REDWOOD 4 stars, as it is a fast and compelling read. I readily identified with the characters, and I appreciated the character evolution that occurs (both in some of the 1983 characters and also in some of the 2013 characters). The plot is twisty and the paranormal elements are fascinating. However, the lack of sufficient proofreading and the subsequent misplaced grammar (chiefly verb tense alterations and misuse of verbs) constantly tossed me out of the story and back into reality. Were that corrected in future, I would give the book a 4. I also hope that if there is a sequel, we would get to find out what happened to Tonya.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Review: Dead Reckoning: and Other Stories

Dead Reckoning: and Other Stories Dead Reckoning: and Other Stories by Dino Parenti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


collects 16 of the author's short stories penned over four decades, beginning in the 1970's, and subdivided by decade. These are in the vein of thought-provoking speculative fiction such as that by Darren Speegle and J. R. Hamantaschen. In other words, don't expect ordinary consensus reality, and don't be disappointed when you don't find it. Expect "Something Else" instead.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Review: The Vengeful Caller: A gripping mystery with suspense and romance

The Vengeful Caller: A gripping mystery with suspense and romance The Vengeful Caller: A gripping mystery with suspense and romance by Rachel Woods
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE VENGEFUL CALLER by Rachel Woods
(A Palmchat Island Mystery)

THE VENGEFUL CALLER is a really intriguing romantic suspense tale set in paradisical surroundings on a Caribbean island. The characters are readily likable, and even the bad guys are comprehensible. From the electrifying reader's hook (where i found myself sympathizing with both killer and victim), suspense is unstoppable and the more the revelations, the more there is to discover, making for a fast-paced story.

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Monday, October 1, 2018

Review: Jinxed

Jinxed Jinxed by Thommy Hutson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: JINXED by Thommy Hutson

JINXED is all the adolescent-themed Horror of the 80's and 90's, wrapped up and honed to a finely-tuned perfection. Did I love it? Did i ever! It wouldn't turn me loose until the end--which rendered me speechless--and even then, I can't stop remembering. The plot is remindful of Agatha Christie's AND THEN THERE WERE NONE--if Ms. Christie had written while on steroids. Set on an island some not inconsiderable distance from Seattle, in an extremely expensive, exclusive, performing arts academy, with urban legend, interpersonal drama, and a sociopathic Dean, JINXED is unstoppably riveting and a great joy to read.

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Review: Death by the River

Death by the River Death by the River by Alexandrea Weis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: DEATH BY THE RIVER by Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor

Very visually and sensorily detailed, this novel also carries a powerful emotional impact and a finely-tuned background of life in a class-ridden Southern community. The town is socioeconomically lopsided, with one small nuclear family at the top, some upper-class professional families significantly lower, and then the impoverished class as the base. The community is also a sterling example of how sociopathy thrives.

What i took away from DEATH BY THE RIVER was a furious despising of the antagonist, applause for the strong despite-all female protagonist and her almost equally strong boyfriend, and an immense gratitude for the Power of Poetic Justice. Yes!!

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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Review: WaxWorld

WaxWorld WaxWorld by Mark Gillespie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of WAXWORLD by Mark Gillespie

WAXWORLD is an exciting, unstoppable, novella which immediately captured my attention and never let go. I loved everything about it, including the characters (primarily the protagonist, with additional secondary characters of importance appearing along the way), the unending suspense, the protagonist's thought processes concerning possible causes of his situation (which mirrored my own, admittedly paranoiac, assumptions), his ethical behavior, his morality, and his devotion to his parents and girlfriend. Jack Murray is a surprisingly “good guy,” given his age at the time of the tale, his affluent background, his genetic blessedness, and his athletic capability. Actually, nowadays I'm surprised to find “good guys” in any social or economic class, so his altruism was a remarkably strong point in his favor. Given his character, the ending was particular poignant, and despite how it turned out, that ending was welcome and I applaud “Jack” for his conscious and altruistic decisions.

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Saturday, September 29, 2018

Review: Twin Lakes : The Autumn Fires

Twin Lakes : The Autumn Fires Twin Lakes : The Autumn Fires by Melissa Lason
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: TWIN LAKES: AUTUMN FIRES by Michelle Garza and Melissa Larson

TWIN LAKES: AUTUMN FIRES is EXACTLY the kind of electrifying, breathtaking, heart-pounding, Horror suspense you need for October build up to Halloween reading! From first page to last, I could not relinquish reading, and on finishing, I find myself hungry for the return of these unusual characters and this very exceptional (spooky!) little Pacific Northwest community. Horror, religious persecution, paganism, ritual sacrifice: TWIN LAKES: AUTUMN FIRES is rolling in the good stuff horror aficionados love! If you love and admire the WAYWARD PINES novels, or the series of TWIN PEAKS, BATES MOTEL, and CASTLE ROCK, then this is your next great read!!!

Review: A Deep Horror That Was Very Nearly Awe

A Deep Horror That Was Very Nearly Awe A Deep Horror That Was Very Nearly Awe by J.R. Hamantaschen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This author falls into a special category all his own: a specialized category of the Outre, New Weird, and exceptional. I can only think of one other who is consistently an author of "Something Else," Darren Speegle. Both have the quality of causing the reader to ponder, "What Dimension is this? And how did I get here?" With each story by Mr. Hamantaschen, I am transported to somewhere that on its surface is consensus reality, but in actuality is no more our reality than is a mirror image "the real thing." Like some nightmares, these stories refuse to quietly depart. Instead, once you read them, they're here to stay. A DEEP HORROR THAT WAS VERY NEARLY AWE is Mr. Hamantaschen's third collection, and features eleven stories.

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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Review: Dracula: Badass Vampire

Dracula: Badass Vampire Dracula: Badass Vampire by Brent Reilly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Review: DRACULA BADASS VAMPIRE by Brent Reilly

The author attempts to humanize one of my favorite historical icons, 15th century Eastern European Prince Vlad Dracul. He lived in a horribly bloodthirsty era, one which boggles the modern sensitivity. He was no clean liver himself, but history acknowledges that he did have rational, if imperfect, reasons for his actions.

I rate this novel 18+ for violence, profanity, and sexual situations.

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Review: Dracula: Badass Vampire

Dracula: Badass Vampire Dracula: Badass Vampire by Brent Reilly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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Review: The Window

The Window The Window by Glenn Rolfe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE WINDOW by Glenn Rolfe

Never gonna look in a mirror or out a window again! Thanks to Mr. Glenn Rolfe, who brings a most implacably terrifying tale, one with historical antecedents (can't argue with those grimdark Teutonic "fairy tales," now!) and a way-strong contemporary setting in which he works in several important interpersonal issues. On one level, THE WINDOW is a contemporary coming of age, with friendships, new love, dealing with parents' separation and new boyfriend/girlfriend, bullies, changing schools, etc. On a deeper level, no one should be subjected to the terrors of the coming of age of James, Carrie, Kevin, Eric, and Hank. Many adults could not have coped. THE WINDOW is deep and rich with Meaning, and even if all you're hoping for is a strong scary story--THE WINDOW will surely scare your socks off!

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