Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Thursday, January 31, 2019

Tour_DANGEROUS FLAWS by Susan Hunter

Dangerous Flaws

by Susan Hunter

on Tour February 1 - March 31, 2019


A chilling murder shocks a small Wisconsin town.

True crime writer Leah Nash is stunned when police investigating the murder of a beautiful young college professor focus on her ex-husband Nick. Leah has no illusions about her ex, but despite his flaws, she just can’t see him as a killer. Reluctantly, she agrees to help Nick’s attorney prove that he isn’t.

But Nick’s lies make it hard to find the truth, and when a damning piece of evidence surfaces, Leah plunges into doubt. Is she defending an innocent man or helping a murderer escape? She pushes on to find out, uncovering hidden motives and getting hit by twists she never saw coming. Leah’s own flaws impede her search for the truth. When she finds it, will it be too late to prevent a devastating confrontation?

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Himmel River Press
Publication Date: December 11th 2018
Number of Pages: 392
Series: Leah Nash Mysteries, Book 5
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

How did everything go so wrong? But then again, why did she ever think that this could come to anything but disaster? She knows now there are only a few ways this can end and none of them are good.

She sighs, then bends down to put the leash on Tenny, her crazy little mixed-breed dog, looking up at her with big brown eyes. He’s so happy and so oblivious. Despite her sense of coming catastrophe, she can’t help smiling at him. He begins wagging his tail, then dancing around eagerly in anticipation of his nightly run. She can barely get the leash hooked.

“Come on, then, you heartless beast. I’m in the worst situation of my life, and all you can think about is getting out and having fun. Tell me again why I bother with you?”

They leave and walk down the road—no sidewalks here—toward the county fairgrounds, an expanse of 80 acres just a short distance away. She loves the odd mix of town on one side of her home and country on the other.

She shivers a little. Her exhaled breath leaves a small trace of vapor in the air. Under the silvery light of the full moon, everything stands out in crystalline splendor: the piles of snow left by the plow, untouched yet by the dirt and grime of passing cars; bare branches of trees shimmering with frost; the stars themselves, flashing and glittering like sparkling beads sewn on the black night sky. It is incredibly beautiful. But she barely notices. She is too lost in thought.

Should she do as she threatened, confess and bring everything to a head? If she does, there’s no going back. And she isn’t the only one who will suffer—or be saved. Because isn’t it possible that freedom, not tragedy, will be the outcome? Things do, sometimes, turn out better than we expect. She feels a momentary spark of optimism, but it fades. This is too important for wishful thinking. She must be realistic. Once the truth is out, the consequences will be devastating. But this—the way she’s living now, lying, denying, pretending that everything is fine—is crushing her. So intent is she on her thoughts that she doesn’t hear the crunch of footsteps behind her.

Doesn’t notice the increasing agitation of her little dog. Doesn’t recognize the impending danger.

“I finally caught up with you.”

Startled, but not alarmed—she recognizes the voice—she turns.

“What are you doing here?”

“We didn’t finish. I need to know you understand.”

She doesn’t want to have this conversation. Not tonight. Not when her mind is so filled with jumbled and conflicting thoughts. Her reluctance shows on her face.

“You said you want to do the right thing. I do too, but you’re wrong about what it is. Please, let’s talk.”

“Tomorrow would be better. I—”

“No! It wouldn’t be!”

The words are said with such force that she takes an involuntary step backward. Tenny growls softly at her side.

“I’m sorry. But we’re talking about my life! Don’t I deserve a few minutes at least? I’ll walk with you. Please?”

She sighs. But now Tenny is pulling at his leash, eager to run free on the frozen surface of the pond.

“All right.” She slips off her gloves and bends down to release the dog. Her cold fingers fumble and his eager jumping makes it hard work. He spies something on the ice and springs forward with excitement. Both the collar and the leash come loose in her hands, and he dashes away.

She tucks them into her pocket as she stands. It’s then that she notices the barricades around a large hole in the frozen pond.

“I forgot about the Polar Plunge tomorrow. Let’s go that way, in case Tenny gets too close. The barriers should keep him out, but he’s a wily little devil.”

They walk around the edge of the pond. She is silent; she doesn’t interrupt. But she isn’t persuaded. Her focus turns inward, as she searches for the right words to explain. All the while she knows they will be unwelcome. As she struggles for a way to be both truthful and kind, she misses the rising tension in her companion’s voice. She doesn’t register the transition from desperation to danger.

A loud series of barks causes her to look up. Tenny is chasing a muskrat across the ice. Both of them are heading toward the barrier-shielded hole in the frozen pond. For the muskrat, it will mean escape. For Tenny, it will mean calamity.

“Tenny, no! Come here!” She runs out on the ice, calling him, moving as fast as she can on the slippery surface, trying to distract the dog. But intent on his prey, he ignores her. He dashes under the barricade just as the muskrat slips into the water to safety. Tenny slides to a stop, gives a few frustrated yips, then turns toward her. His expression clearly says, “Thanks a lot. I almost had him.”

She reaches the edge of the barricade and pushes it aside, holding out the leash and collar.

“Tennyson, come here right now.”

He makes as if to obey, but when she leans to get him, he scampers away. She calls him again.

He comes tantalizingly close, then eludes her grasp and retreats with a cocky grin on his face.

He likes this game.

She sets the collar and leash down on the ice. She gets on one knee and reaches in her pocket.

When her hand emerges, it’s holding a dog treat. In a honeyed, coaxing voice, she says, “Hey, Tenny. Look, sweetie! Your favorite, cheesy bacon.”

She stays very still as he approaches. When he gets within range, she intends to scoop him up, scold him, and never let him off the leash again. He moves slowly, maintaining eye contact with the treat, not her. She stretches her hand out ever so slightly. He streaks forward, snatches it from her open palm, and runs away across the pond. Then his attention is caught by a deer just reaching the middle of the ice. He gives chase.

She sighs with relief. At least he’s away from the open water. She starts to rise. Without warning, a strong shove from behind sends her sprawling. Her head hits the ice. She’s dazed for a second. Then terrified as another shove pushes her forward and into the hole cut in the pond.

The shock of hitting the water takes her breath away. The weight of her clothes pulls her down.

She struggles back to the surface, disoriented and confused. Her breathing is shallow and quick—too quick.

She swallows a mouthful of water and starts to choke. Panic rises. Her arms flail.

One hits something hard. The edge of the ice. Her fright lessens as she can see a way out.

She works her body around so she can grab the icy lip of the opening in the pond. She begins to move her legs, stretching out as though she were floating on her stomach. As she transitions from vertical to horizontal, she’s able to get one forearm on the ice. She tries to lift her knee. If she can get it on the ice—she’s too weak. The weight of her water-logged clothes pulls her back into the water. She feels the panic rising again. She pushes back against it with her desperate determination to survive.

She tries again, kicks her legs again, stretches out again, gets her forearms on the ice again.

But this time, she doesn’t try to lift herself. Instead, she begins to inch forward with a writhing motion, like a very slow snake crawling on the ground. She fights for every awkward, painful inch of progress. How long has it been? Five minutes? Ten? Twenty? It feels like forever.

Her arms are numb. Tiny icicles in her hair slap gently against her face as she twists and turns her body out of the water. Tenny is nearby. He’s barking, and then he’s by her left arm, tugging at her sleeve.

“No, no, Tenny, get back.” She thinks she is shouting, but the words are a whisper. She has to rest, just for a minute. She stops. She closes her eyes. But as her cheek touches the ice, Tenny’s bark calls her back to life. She will not give up. She will not die this way, this night.

Again, she begins her hesitating progress forward. She can do this. She will do this. Almost her entire upper body is on the ice now. Just a little longer, just a few more inches, just another—hands grab her shoulders. Someone has come. Someone is pulling her to safety. As she turns her head to look up, she realizes the hands aren’t pulling, they’re pushing, pushing, pushing her back.

No, no, no, no! She tries to fight, but she has nothing left. She’s in the water.

The hands lock onto her shoulders like talons. They push her down, down, down. Water enters her mouth; her throat closes over. She can’t breathe. The last sound she hears from far, far away is Tenny’s mournful bark. Then darkness closes in.

*** Excerpt from Dangerous Flaws by Susan Hunter. Copyright © 2018 by Susan Hunter. Reproduced with permission from Susan Hunter. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Susan Hunter is a charter member of Introverts International (which meets the 12th of Never at an undisclosed location). She has worked as a reporter and managing editor, during which time she received a first place UPI award for investigative reporting and a Michigan Press Association first place award for enterprise/feature reporting.

Susan has also taught composition at the college level, written advertising copy, newsletters, press releases, speeches, web copy, academic papers, and memos. Lots and lots of memos. She lives in rural Michigan with her husband Gary, who is a man of action, not words.

During certain times of the day, she can be found wandering the mean streets of small-town Himmel, Wisconsin, looking for clues, stopping for a meal at the Elite Cafe, dropping off a story lead at the Himmel Times Weekly, or meeting friends for a drink at McClain's Bar and Grill.

Catch Up With Ms. Hunter On: leahnashmysteries.com, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

Dangerous Flaws: Leah Nash Mysteries, Book 5Dangerous Flaws: Leah Nash Mysteries, Book 5 by Susan Hunter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I adore Susan Hunter's Leah Nash Mysteries. Every book is jam-packed with suspense and tension, danger, deeply delineated characters, and the hardrock passion for uncovering truth possessed by driven investigative journalist (now true crime author) Leah Nash. Leah's newspaper, The Himmel Times, is now co-owned by Lisa and her landlord, Miller, local attorney and man of wealth. Following the open house for the newspaper, a college professor disappears while walking her beloved dog Tennyson, whose return home alerts the victim's husband, also a professor. Eventually the missing woman is discovered, but investigating her case will take Leah down some very rough emotional paths and cast her frequently in danger as well as into conflict with those for whom she cares most. Always a page-turner, DANGEROUS FLAWS keeps readers pinned to the edge of their seats.

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Susan Hunter. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on February 1, 2019 and runs through April 1, 2019. Void where prohibited.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Review: Sophie Last Seen

Sophie Last Seen Sophie Last Seen by Marlene Adelstein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although a mysteries lies at the heart of this psychological thriller (the disappearance of a young girl six years while shopping with her mother at a mall), the power and impact of the story comes in the character evolution. The main characters for me were Jesse, the bereaved and always grieving mother, and Star, once small Sophie's best friend, now an adolescent going through the usual adolescent turmoil plus trying to find her own way in the world and out of the parents' nest. There is also character evolution revealed in secondary characters, such as Sophie's father, who is mostly but not completely backstage. Author Marlene Adelstein digs deeply into her characters, even when they are less likable than we would hope.

View all my reviews

Monday, January 28, 2019

Review: Don't Forget To Breathe

Don't Forget To Breathe Don't Forget To Breathe by Cathrina Constantine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Leocadia (Leo) discovers her mother's mutilated corpse in the master bedroom one day after school, Leo's world and her dad's collapses. Neither can scarcely function, but sometimes life is just a matter of survival, of placing one foot in front of the other and staying upright. Dad dissolves into weepiness and paranoia about Leo's whereabouts, while Leo resorts to controlled substances, and the friendship of a strange new neighbor named Henry, whom no one else really likes. After a year, a slight glimmer of light might be coming into Leo's life, till she discovers suddenly that she's not in control of deciding between reality and fantasy, she doesn't know what is illusion, Henry is acting really strangely; and suddenly, more corpses are turning up, too close to home. Something is going on and since her mother's murderer was never discovered, Leo and her father are terrified that that killer has returned. For whom?

View all my reviews

Review: As It Never Was

As It Never Was As It Never Was by Bo Thunboe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This engrossing and painful mystery is guaranteed to tear out a reader's heart, unless your heart is made of ice, or metal, or nonexistent. Definitely 18+ for subject matter. However, the author keeps the "details" off stage, but reading between the lines is enough. Detective Jake Houser of Weston, Illinois, is back on stage with this trademark dedication to justice and to perseverance in search of the truth. He is tasked by a couple, Paul and Linda Siebert, to look into the disappearance seven years earlier of their son, Mark. This is to be an off-side investigation, one involving Jake's own intellect and resources, not the Weston Police Department. A young man has visited the Sieberts to tell Linda that Mark is still alive. Jake assumes it's a con, but one played out as a long-shot, after seven years. That would have been grief enough, but the truth is so much worse, and so much wider-ranging. What Jake uncovers is shocking, disturbing, and unfortunately, a reflection of contemporary crime and immorality.

Author Bo Thunboe is again at the top of his form with this third in his Jake Houser mystery series, a series not to be missed if a reader wishes to be totally engrossed, mentally, psychologically, and emotionally.

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Review: Stoker's Wilde

Stoker's Wilde Stoker's Wilde by Steven Hopstaken
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How I adore this novel! Couched in journal entries, transcripts of recordings, and letters from various and sundry individuals as collected by the Royally-appointed "White Worm Society" (named I assume for Bram Stoker's delightful LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM, this Society was instituted by Queen Victoria to protect the realm from supernatural incursions and other monsters), STOKER'S WILDE is immensely entertaining and engrossing, whether you are an aficionado of literary fiction and authors, the supernatural and paranormal, or just great characterization and characters that spark flame just from their constant tension and friction, you're going to find something to admire here. Co-authors Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi bring this late-Victorian era, in Dublin, London, and Salisbury, briskly and beautifully alive. I learned so much about Bram Stoker, his wife Florence, and Oscar Wilde (and his brother and widowed mother), as well as Captain Richard Burton. The Victorian Era is one of my favourites (and it goes without saying that Stoker is a favoured author), so this novel was an utter delight. I thoroughly resonated with the characters, and marveled at the revelations and denouements of the twisting plot lines.

View all my reviews

Friday, January 25, 2019

Review: The Carlswick Mythology

The Carlswick Mythology The Carlswick Mythology by S.L. Beaumont
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Half-New Zealander, half-British Stephanie Cooper may as well hope her summer jobs with Scotland Yard's Art and Artefact Squad become full-time employment once she graduates Uni, because wherever she goes (even if just on an entertaining holiday excursion), trouble finds her, and almost always stolen art or antiquities are involved. This time, she and boyfriend James are on a rush visit to the Greek island of Santorini, where they enjoy touring an excavation. But of course, there are stolen and smuggled antiquities right in the middle of the mix. And off she goes!

View all my reviews

Review: They Move Below

They Move Below They Move Below by Karl Drinkwater
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Horror, like most genres, possesses a plethora of tropes. Utilizing them again in the same old ways is never entertaining, but playing a new riff on old tropes is. Witness: Karl Drinkwater's THEY MOVE BELOW (SUSPENSE HORROR BOOK 2) is a case in point. In fifteen tales, Mr. Drinkwater looks into the Shadows; and discovers the Shadows are looking back at us. Read in the daylight, or read with a friend; but don't read alone.

View all my reviews

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Review: The Throwaways

The Throwaways The Throwaways by L.S. Hawker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are catchy reader's hooks; there are great reader's hooks; and then there is the explosive reader's hook that blasts open a door into apparently alternate reality--a reality that is so unbelievable and so disarming that no one in their right mind would want to inhabit it. Poor George Engel certainly doesn't want to be here; he has enough troubles just being himself, at the age of twenty-eight already considered a "life passed him by" candidate. But just when George finally finds something going for him--his acceptance into Law School--life upends him. His topsy-turvy new existence doesn't seem to ever pause; he can't catch a breath and he can't catch a break. George gives an entirely new meaning to the term "feckless hero." Feckless can't even begin to describe what this guy goes through.

Tension-laden with suspense ratcheted to the max, THE THROWAWAYS is a book you can't put down. It will blast you out of your complacency and into an entirely new manner of perception, and you will simultaneously hate it and love it, close your eyes and open them as wide as possible, cheer on feckless George and scream "oh no!" The one thing you will NOT be with this novel is bored.

View all my reviews

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Review: Second Lives

Second Lives Second Lives by P.D. Cacek
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

P. D. Cacek rocks! SECOND LIVES is an extraordinarily compelling novel which I classify as horror, science fiction, and literary fiction. The premise seems simple enough on the surface: three patients in one hospital in California die on the same date--August 24. That's not odd. In a large hospital, that fact might be fairly common. A fourth man dies after a swimming pool drowning. However, what is odd, even impossible, is that all four patients revive: suddenly, after being declared clinically dead. All four are at first diagnosed with retrograde amnesia: they have no memory, of course, of dying, nor even of their previous lives. The attending psychiatrist believes this may be a temporary condition, but it's not: apparently all four of those individuals are gone, permanently. The "occupants" of these four formerly dead, now living bodies are others. The psychiatrist, baffled and befuddled, eventually comes to accept their nature, and terms them "travelers." Apparently, there have been some other instances. All four individuals themselves previously died (two deaths due to violent confrontation, two due to accidents), none of them recently, and now find themselves ensconced in "new" physiques. Both the "newly returned" and the surviving families of three of the patients are at a loss as to how to react: their loved ones died, now they're alive, except they're not, this is somebody else.

Author P. D. Cacek approaches this baffling conundrum marvellously, giving really four different scenarios of working out these situations. She totally puts all the characters through their paces, and if we don't always admire some of them, certainly we are given a deep comprehension of their natures. Yes, there's character evolution, too, thankfully.
SECOND LIVES is a wonderfully stunning novel, and a definite candidate to reread.

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Review: The Haunting of Hillwood Farm

The Haunting of Hillwood Farm The Haunting of Hillwood Farm by Kathryn Knight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't often gravitate to Romantic Suspense, but this novel was wonderful and I am very happy I didn't overlook it based on its genre. There is a strong supernatural element here; in fact, that is what drives the novel for me. However, fans of Romantic Suspense will also delight in THE HAUNTING OF HILLWOOD FARM because of the lovable characters, the romantic tension, the need for one of the main trio to "suspend disbelief" in order to acknowledge what is actually occurring and to get past his mistrust of the new entry into his and his grandmother's lives. Any fiction seems so much better when the reader can delve into the characters and find points of similarity and interest, and that is very much the case in this novel.

25-year-old Callie Sinclair gained psychic ability following a brief coma induced by a winter traffic accident. Now she "hears" from the deceased, whether or not she wishes to. But sometimes she can pass out information or guidance to a grieving loved one, and the results are beneficial. When she tries to help the elderly, recently widowed, Alice Turner, she finds more than one spirit to deal with, along with the skepticism and disbelief of Alice's very appealing grandson Luke. Romance, Supernatural, and Danger elements are all prevalent in this novel, in a champion plot.

View all my reviews

Friday, January 18, 2019

Review: Tavistock Galleria: Short Horror Stories From America’s Retail Wasteland

Tavistock Galleria: Short Horror Stories From America’s Retail Wasteland Tavistock Galleria: Short Horror Stories From America’s Retail Wasteland by William Stuart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A lifelong principle has been to avoid malls, and reading TAVISTOCK GALLERIA has just confirmed that intent. TAVISTOCK GALLERIA is an extraordinarily excellent themed short story collection, by multiple talented authors, with each story contributing to the horror and terror of this poor misguided mall. Okay, perhaps not misguided; probably the terrors are intentional. Either way, these stories are downright scary! As they are penned by different authors, they of course feature different characters and retail shops, different themes--but every one of these stories should be read only in the daytime! And not aloud! (just in case--they're listening).

A great collection, and a definite re-reader. Really happy I discovered it.

View all my reviews

Review: The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved C. J. Tudor's debut novel, THE CHALK MAN, and I love the second novel, THE HIDING PLACE. Strumming the tension maximally from first page to last, the author makes us understand the characters, feel their emotions, comprehend their motives, rail against injustice, and wish everything could simply have been different from the beginning. In other words, Life. Joe Thorn, our narrator/protagonist, is not so much a feckless hero as a failed hero. Coming of age in a small Nottinghamshire community, a community which had existed for centuries, Joe was an adolescent when the local mine closed and his father had to find other employment. A mine collapse in 1949 had cast its continuing pall over the community, but the real danger lay not in the mine, but in the underground adjacent to the failed colliery.

Author Tudor superbly suspends disbelief in weaving in elements of the supernatural, or perhaps "preternatural," along with the life stories of the village, of these boys and girls grown to adulthood who persist in the patterns of their childhood and raise their children to repeat their failings. Following historian George Santayana's premise, "Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it," the inhabitants of this village manage to sometimes remember and frequently, generation after generation, to repeat. Reading THE HIDING PLACE is tough and painful in that we are required to live vicariously through our less-than-perfect characters, but so much of good fiction (and nonfiction) means just that: diving below the superfluity of surface currents and seeing--living--in the depths.

View all my reviews

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Review: Tick Tock Terror

Tick Tock Terror Tick Tock Terror by Melanie Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have always loved Edgar Allan Poe, so I was really happy to find the Poe theme of this short novel (and it was educational, too). Adolescent Conor Marlowe lives to climb. He is a part-time employee at a climbing gym, and on his lunch hours, always rides at the amusement park across the street. One of the popular rides there is based on Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum." Orne lunch period a goblinesque old man, who turns out to be the ride's manager, offers Conor cash if he'll climb the ride at 2 AM and leave something up there. Conor is over-confident of his climbing ability, but realizing something "secret" must be "illegal," he tries to demur, till the old guy threatens to report him to the police as a thief (which he isn't). So he agrees, and leaves what is supposed to be a raven carved out of ebony that was owned by Poe himself. In the process, Conor learns about trust, friendships, and not taking others for granted or at face value. He also faces danger.

TICK TOCK TERROR is a short entertaining novel aimed at middle grade reluctant readers. It has a lot to recommend it, and also includes a sample from the author's novel HIGH WIRE. I quite enjoyed it.

View all my reviews

Review: The Devil's Equinox

The Devil's Equinox The Devil's Equinox by John Everson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

These "villains" really believe--and that's what is so scary. Not the hangers-on, those folks who just participate at Club Equinox for the orgies and BDSM and funky alcoholic concoctions and the pleasure of perversions--but the inner core, the real "bad guys," the ones who quite literally will stop at nothing to obtain the Power. Those are terrifying. Fanatics always are.

John Everson's newest novel is so powerful, so terrifying, so implacable in the evil it describes, that I could not stop reading. I'm not sure which terrified me more, the implacable fanaticism of the believers--or the ending. Just when you thought it was safe----. What a conclusion!

Austin is a Marketing Manager in a quiet, laidback, community in Central Illinois. He is married to a woman he once deeply cherished, and the father of a beloved infant daughter (approaching toddler age, but not yet walking). He and wife Angie just don't get along any more, or perhaps Angie is just contemptuous of him. At any rate, Austin makes an enormous error; drinking at his hquiet local, he tells a stranger, at midnight, he wishes his wife would die. If that resulted in the Devil taking Austin's soul, that would be one consequence, and perhaps understandable. But Austin, in his alcoholic fog and lust and thoughtlessness, embarks on a course which will damage not only him, but those he holds dear. A foolish "wish" which immediately becomes a horrifying lesson in "Be careful what you wish for."

View all my reviews

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Review: Dark Fantasy Stories (Illustrated): The Best Horror Classics

Dark Fantasy Stories (Illustrated): The Best Horror Classics Dark Fantasy Stories (Illustrated): The Best Horror Classics by S.S. Wolff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This Anthology selects classic horror tales from some of the greats: 2 from Lord Dunsany; 1 each from Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert E. Howard, H. G. Wells, and H. P. Lovecraft, a wonderful collection of the horror and fantasy of the 19th and 20th centuries. This was my first introduction to the work of Lord Dunsany, and I found him to have delved into a similar collective consciousness as my idol H. P. Lovecraft (which made his work both somewhat familiar, and yet new). This is an excellent sampler collection to try out these authors, and to sample a flavour of 19th and 20th century "dark literature."

View all my reviews

Review: Moon Games

Moon Games Moon Games by Shelly Frome
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There's not much I love more than a Feckless Hero. However, in MOON GAMES, I was utterly delighted to discover a Feckless Heroine in protagonist Miranda Davis. This woman in her thirties is so peripatetic, so constantly off-the-track of her life purpose, I'm surprised she manages to run a business (realty) and be employed (part-time at The Tavern), and it's probably no wonder why she finds relationship issues dismaying. However, I did like her and I even empathised with her, thanks to author Shelly Frome's talented treatment. He also kept the suspense turned up high, the tension on the front burner, and the puzzles constantly intriguing, as I continually pondered: "What? What? What? Who? Why? What does each new revelation signify?" I empathized with Feckless Miranda because I was pretty much out at sea too, and that kept me turning those pages, totally intrigued and delighted.

View all my reviews

Review: Murder of Ravens: Gabriel Hawke Novel

Murder of Ravens: Gabriel Hawke Novel Murder of Ravens: Gabriel Hawke Novel by Paty Jager
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

MURDER OF RAVENS is an intriguing mystery set in Eastern Oregon, in the mountains, along the rivers, and in small close-knit communities (read, everybody knows everybody else's business). Gabriel Hawke is a Fish and Wildlife State Trooper, of Native American descent, who loves the mountains and land, his dog, horse, and pack mule. At 52, he is long divorced, happy living alone with his animals, tracking, and solving puzzles that arise in the course of his job. Such a bizarre puzzle occurs while he is tracking what he thinks are poachers, and finds a corpse wearing a wolf-tracking collar, and standing over him, a biologist who studies the wolf population. As he investigates, Hawke learns that no one is really surprised that the man, a restaurant owner, is dead; and that there are far too many potential suspects to easily sort. But Hawke is a determined tracker, and he will find his man--or woman--before long. No crime goes unpunished, and even if the victim was unethical and immoral, murder is still a crime.

View all my reviews

Monday, January 14, 2019

Review: The Dark Game

The Dark Game The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This morning I wrote a blog post in which I termed several novels "perfect" in my view, among them three by author Jonathan Janz, including THE DARK GAME. This novel and THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER (released Fall 2018) I think are his two best novels to date. THE DARK GAME intertwines psychological thriller, high suspense, paranormal, metaphysical, and wonderful character evolution (and devolution, as some of the characters experience decompensation, to their peril). Mr. Janz has a fine eye for the layers of personality and character usually hidden from the world. He also has an excellent understanding of the meaning of being a writer, and here I am speaking of both the act of writing itself, and of the act of presenting one's work to the world--agents, publishers, critics, trolls.

Ten writers are invited to the retreat of one of the most admired authors of our time (think Hemingway, Norman Mailer, Henry Miller status; also think of their lifestyles). The competition is for an enormous amount of prize money plus (unspoken) an in with publishers and agents: guaranteed best-seller outcome. But only one of course can win. If this seems like an act of tremendous generosity on the part of the host, Roderick Wells (whose work is studied in universities everywhere), it's really not--for Wells is a Narcissist (and more) who sharpens only his own axe, at the expense of all others. However, not all of the ten writers turn out to be patsies to be swatted like flies. We have heroes here, too, of both genders. The characters herein really rock this novel, and I think it ought to be read by every adult.

View all my reviews

Review: Last Woman Standing

Last Woman Standing Last Woman Standing by Amy Gentry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

LAST WOMAN STANDING by Amy Gentry is her second novel, a very edgy, very contemporary psychological thriller, totally apropos to today's exposure of the rape culture. Ms. Gentry deeply examines her characters, and in this novel, contemporary society and culture is also a character in itself. Dana Diaz is a stand-up comic who hopes to "make it to the big time," but carries a tremendous amount of baggage. As a female comic, she is often overlooked or heckled. As a female, she has suffered. Back in Austin after a failed stint in L.A. during which a male asserted his "prerogative," causing her post-traumatic stress and fear of expressing or asserting herself, Dana encounters another woman with issues, Amanda. As their budding friendship stutters along, with Dana holding tightly to her "secrets," which involve molestation and rape, Amanda begins to reveal her agenda. Sounding good on the surface, as striking a blow against contemporary rape culture, Amanda's ideas soon prove to be both dangerous and also illegal; and Dana comes to discover that she also has a dark side, just like the men who have abused women.

View all my reviews

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Review: The Wrong Boy

The Wrong Boy The Wrong Boy by Cathy Ace
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The best part of a psychological thriller for me is watching the unfolding revelations of the characters, especially when the protagonist or another character is an unreliable narrator, and either unaware of her/his shortcomings and failings and motives, or simply not confiding in the reader (or both are true). So I delighted in the twisty ways that THE WRONG BOY played out; the reader goes along thinking one version is true, then smack! another version (as interpreted by unreliable narrator), then yet another, another, and so forth. Quite satisfying to read through, holding on to one perception only to find it upended, and this continued throughout the novel. It is said that eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable; and so it is in THE WRONG BOY, the characters who are eyewitnesses of their own lives (presumably) still fail to perceive truth, and they certainly fail to pass that truth on to others, even their own family members; so that generation upon generation upon generation holds concealed secrets and psychological dysfunction.

THE WRONG BOY is an excellent psychological suspense thriller, set in a stunning location with eons of history, ingrown characters, and a background on which play out the "normal" human emotions and motives, and quite a few not so "normal."

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Review: The Open Window

The Open Window The Open Window by Glen Ebisch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

THE OPEN WINDOW by prolific author Glen Ebisch is a fascinating and excellent cozy mystery. Its likable and strong heroine Kate is a former cop, literally a hero, partially disabled but high-functioning, now a licensed Realtor. Her boyfriend Daniel is the manager of the local paper. Set in a small Western Massachusetts university community, there are plenty of characters to populate the novel, and a significant level of suspense, tension, and suspicious demises. Even as a Realtor, Kate cannot put aside her native curiosity and drive to solve puzzles, so she slips in to assisting both the police and the newspaper in churning up clues to the death of a well-admired professor--a death which could have been accident, suicide, or murder. Kate is determined to find out which, and in the process encounters danger to herself and others. Yet the conclusion is satisfying and psychologically sound, the ends are tied up, and Kate's character evolution is empowering for herself and pleasing to the reader.

View all my reviews

Thursday, January 10, 2019

24in48_Jan. 26-27 2019


Review: The Nursery

The Nursery The Nursery by Bill Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've now read Book 2 and Book 3 of Bill Thompson's fantastic Bayou Hauntings Series (THE FORGOTTEN MEN, and THE NURSERY). I adore this series and deem them re-readers. (I'll be reading Book 1, CALLIE, soonest). It's wonderful to read them in order, but each can be read as a stand-alone if need be, because the characters carry over and Mr. Thompson provides enough backstory to carry on with. He also provides wonderful historical and cultural details, and his character treatments are superbs. The reader quickly becomes involved with the characters (even the "villains") and their psychology and behaviour are true to life and realistic.

Now, as for the Horror: I love it! So implacable, which is my go-to criterion for good horror. Here it is excellent. THE NURSERY stars a woman who although long dead (five decades) is still going strong, and is a very powerful and controlling spirit, facing up against a loving widowed single father and his eight-year-old twin daughters, whom the ghost covets. Characters from Books 1 and 2 also are part of this ongoing story. THE NURSERY is a thrill to read (and terrifying too!).

View all my reviews

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Review: Forgotten Men

Forgotten Men Forgotten Men by Bill Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This paranormal novel is absolutely enthralling! THE FORGOTTEN MEN is Book Two in the Bayou Hauntings series, and incorporates history, ghosts, serial killers, horrific prison conditions, the criminally insane, and pirate treasure. In 1820 a trader from New Orleans who has inexplicably gained wealth builds a grand hotel near Bayou Teche, Louisiana, and a small community forms around it, the town of Victory. Later he leaves the area, destination unknown; and the hotel is abandoned for decades, until it becomes the nation's first for-profit institution for incarceration of the criminally insane, who are brutally treated, starved, tortured, and beaten--then buried in an unnamed cemetery out back. Closed in 1907, the building remains occupied--although not by the living. Subject of adolescent dares, it also provides temporary housing for addicts and the homeless. Deputy Sheriff Landry Drake discovers a string of unsolved killings at the site, and determines to discover more, but is fired by the Sheriff. He is actually on the right track, though, as he will soon discover. There is more evil at the former Asylum than he could imagine: some deceased, some alive. THE FORGOTTEN MEN is a terrifying, engrossing, page-turner.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Review: Junction

Junction Junction by Daniel M. Bensen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an enthralling, entertaining, and educating novel! Science fiction plus contemporary comment plus deep characterization, shades of Star Trek's Prime Directive and of colonial imperialism, contribute to making this such an enthralling novel. I was thrilled from beginning to end and couldn't set it aside. An Australian biologist's accidental discovery in New Guinea of a Wormhole, with a civilization living on "the other side," impels governments of all sorts to intrude. And the selected "hero explorer" is a reality tv star whose career has been founded on wilderness survival.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Review: The Haunting of Henderson Close

The Haunting of Henderson Close The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Release date 10 Jan. 2019

Catherine Cavendish is noted for her ability to delineate characters and pull readers into their lives, making us feel with them. That's very true in her newest novel, THE HAUNTING OF HENDERSON CLOSE. Set in Edinburgh's underground, and in that area when it was still a teeming, if not thriving, metropolis, crammed with human populace, rats, and offal (and crime). Ms. Cavendish skillfully weave time-slips, ghosts, and implacable evil into the equation. In 2018 contemporary Edinburgh, Hannah, George, and Mairead are ghost tour docents, leading tours of the underground former community. Imprisoned not far from Henderson Close is an ancient evil, which reconstruction releases. The trio will discover that the evil is much closer than they had any reason to believe, as they are tasked by a ghost to solve the 1891 murder of a kind-hearted, generous, upper-class lady from the New Town, who daily toiled in the slums to bring temporary relief of kindness, clothes, and food, to the abjectly poor.

View all my reviews