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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. Double Blind by Iris and Roy Johansen is a heart stopping story. This series has a very original premise and this novel, in particular, has a killer that is unique. Blind from birth, the main character, Kendra Michaels, regained her sight at the age of twenty. Now she is able to use her extensively distinct senses and acute analytical skills to help the FBI thwart bad guys. The Johansens created a classic detective “with powers of observation and deduction, seeing some things no one else could see. But we want to make sure Kendra does not have super powers. She can see, hear, and smell things, which anyone else can if they were paying attention. What makes her special is how she trained herself to pay attention. There was a lot of time spent on making sure she was different; yet, maintains the classic detective traits. Like most blind people she grew up fine tuning her other senses to compensate. Now that she has her sight, thanks to a rare, successful stem cell surgery, she is able to pick up sounds and smells that most others do not even pay attention to. She soaks up the world around her, including her sight.” As with many of those who cannot see, Kendra enhanced her other senses to compensate. Although no longer blind, she still has a great power of deduction and incredible critical thinking abilities. The FBI has requested her on this case because of her capacity to quickly notice the smallest of details. Shrugging it off, she has been known to say that her powers were nothing any other person could deduce if they concentrated on listening, observing, and watching. This case literally came to her after a woman is found dead with an envelope having Kendra’s name on it. It contains a memory stick of a wedding video. What soon becomes apparent is that the wedding party has been targeted by a serial killer who strives to get the maximum number of victims by inflicting emotional and physical pain. Through the investigative process Kendra and company realize that the killer is connected to a mercenary organization. The supporting cast includes former FBI agent Adam Lynch, now a contractor who works by himself; Olivia, a friend of Kendra’s from childhood who became blind in an accident; Jessie, a private investigator after retiring from the army, and a group of FBI agents. Lynch is almost always at Kendra’s side and has her back. This new case brings Lynch and Kendra closer, but there is still the tug of war between them. Each are strong, smart, brave, and honest; although in their private lives Kendra and her peers have many secrets. The authors wrote Kendra “as complicated, brisk, cautious, loyal, and impatient. She has difficulty with those who she considers lazy in doing their job. She has a colorful history from those wild days after she was given her sight. Kendra always speaks her mind, especially with her FBI counterparts. Her counterpart, Lynch,is learning to work and play well with others through Kendra. He is very much his own man with a steely confidence. His hated nickname is ‘Puppetmaster,’ because one of his talents is having people bend to his will. He can be very persuasive, a master of manipulation.” This mother/son collaboration make a great team, able to write edge-of-your seat suspenseful stories with compelling characters. The twists in Double Blind can lead readers to be blind-sided so be forewarned. Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo is a powerful story. From the very first page, when a young Amish woman commits suicide, the plot takes on a dark and gripping tone, a very thought-provoking novel. Bur readers should not be surprised considering Castillo books are always insightful and riveting. The author explained, “The book opens with a young Amish woman committing suicide. Readers do not know why, but as they turn the pages they begin to understand what happened to her. There is also this young man who was burned to death, a very sad situation. As the investigation takes on an ominous tone, I chose to explore the question, is murder justified?” The story begins with Amish teenager Emma Miller hanging herself and then fast forwards six months where Painter Mills police chief Kate Buckholder is called to investigate a body found in a burned barn. The initial reaction is that it was a freak accident, but as the evidence builds up Kate suspects murder. This eighteen-year-old Amish boy, Daniel Gingerich, is found inside, burned alive,and barricaded in the tack room with no way to escape. She is baffled since it appears Daniel has no enemies in the world, yet, he dies a harsh and cruel death. The investigation takes on twists and turns since Daniel has a secret life. Secrets are the heart of the story as the Amish community stays silent, basically attempting to stonewall the case. Kate begins to wonder if this peaceful and deeply religious community is conspiring to hide a truth no one wants to talk about. As she wades through a sea of suspects, she’s confronted by her own violent past, which made her leave the Amish community. She finds that there are many parallels to her past as the rape of Amish girls are hidden, and not talked about or reported. This part of the story is very relevant to issues of today. It is an Amish MeToo Moment. What also makes the plot authentic is Kate’s reflection on the Amish sects, their principles, rules, and her ability to speak the Dutch language. I never want to generalize, and remember this is a fictional story. I think that we should never generalize the entire community. But in this story, the community did try to sweep things under the rug. The mother of the girl who committed suicide was first seen as uncaring and not supportive of her daughter. The parent reactions depend on how they were raised and which sect they were from. Another girl, Ruth, who became pregnant from a rape, had her mother decide to find her a husband to pass the baby off as her husbands. Each mother tried to sweep the secret under the rug. In my research, I read that an Amish boy who does something terribly wrong, even raping someone, can get off. If he confesses before the Church congregation, he is forgiven. This is why I wrote the girls not speaking up, some committing suicide, because they knew the boy would have been forgiven and they would be caught up in the stigma.” Castillo is a master at building suspense with intense and dark secret undertones. This harrowing thriller, with so many interesting characters, emphasizes how religious beliefs influence the communities’ morality and the desire to obtain justice. Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. The Bookshop of Yesterdaysby Amy Meyerson is part mystery and part drama involving family dynamics. It is a shout out to those who love books and bookstores since the main mystery is centered around both, and comes about with riddles from book quotes. Clues to the scavengers’ hunt are found in the classics of the past, The Tempest, Jane Eyre, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Frankenstein, Fear of Flying, Persuasion, The Grapes of Wrath, andBridge to Terabithia. The story begins with Miranda Brooks’ twelfth birthday party. Her beloved Uncle Billy is a no-show and to make matters worse that night she overhears a fight between him and her mother. She sees Billy only once more and then he cuts himself off from her life. Similar to someone who has lost a loved one she experiences grief, loss. and anger. He left her with no explanation.Fast-forward sixteen years later where Miranda attempts to make a life for herself in Philadelphia teaching history in a middle school. She finds out Billy has died and the fond memories of their times together sweeps over her. He took her to his Los Angeles bookstore Prospero Books, where they would read, solve riddles, and have elaborate scavenger hunts full of surprises. After the funeral Miranda learns she inherited the financially challenged bookstore and Billy has left her one more scavenger hunt: a quest to provide answers about the mysterious family’s rift that no one wants to speak about. Myerson explains, “My bookstore visually looks a lot like one in Echo Park. I borrowed a lot physically from it, but not any of the actual character struggles. I also spoke with some managers of bookstores that helped me to understand how they work. Silverlake, the community in Echo Park, has changed a lot. I wanted to make Prospero Books an earlier relic of the neighborhood that is disappearing.” Furthermore, “I love books about books. I wanted to set a story in a bookstore. The reason for the bookstores’ name, “Prospero Books,” is because “The Tempest” has a scene where he gains magical powers through books. Also, Billy would take Miranda there as a way to connect with her. Since it was originally his late wife’s he thought Miranda might also connect to her. I think it was a way for Billy to share his late wife, Evelyn, with Miranda and keep the memory of her alive. I think he tried to explain his life to Miranda through the books in his bookstore and not directly as in a letter. Scavenger hunts were a way Billy communicated. It enabled him to explain his emotions and through the riddles he was able to talk to Miranda.” Early on many readers will realize the big family secret. Yet, they will turn the pages to take the journey of the scavenger hunt with Miranda to find out find out how the past family secrets would be revealed. A scene from the book would forewarn readers that the quest is more important than the mystery: “he left her clues meant to impart wisdom and knowledge as well as lead to the reward: Even though I always figured out where the quest was going before we got there, he refused to let me rush through the lesson.” The author explained, “I wrote how Suze, Miranda’s mother, realized holding back secrets makes it progressively more difficult to tell the truth. I wrote in this book quote, ‘It’s difficult seeing parents for who they are, rather than who we want them to be.’ I wanted to explore the way we can and cannot know our parents. I know I feel this way and I think others do as well. It is hard to fully understand who they were before they became parents. We only know what they chose to tell us and how they chose to tell us.” This heartfelt debut novel explores loss, healing, and family with all the tensions, misunderstandings, and estrangements that are sometimes part of it. Books and the bookstore are an added bonus allowing readers to understand the importance of forgiveness. Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. The Summer Wivesby Beatriz Williams combines romance, secrecy, and suspense. As with all her books she concentrates on a mystery, the murder of a rich playboy, and social issues, class conflicts. Intertwined within the plot are complex relationships that connect all the characters. The setting plays an important role in this novel, just as it had in William’s blockbuster novel, A Hundred Summers. Both take place on an island with an obvious clash between the haves and have nots, where all are determined to keep the outside world from its shores. In this book, Winthrop Island, off the New England coast, is the summer retreat for the old wealth and elite and the yearly home of the working class of Portuguese fishermen and domestic workers as well as their families. Williams noted, “Winthrop Island is inspired by Fisher’s Island, which is off the coast of Connecticut. Until the early 1920s it was purely farm land. It was then developed where half of the island has beautiful homes and a golf course. It was very difficult to research because people don’t like to talk about Fisher’s Island. Most of the Island is behind a guard’s booth and it is isolated since the only way to get there is by ferry. Older money came there to escape and use it as a retreat. Families came there year after year during the summer, mingling only with themselves. They went to the Island to build silos around themselves.” The story is centered around Miranda Schulyer, told in different time frames. In 1951, she was an eighteen-year-old just graduating high school, and then it fast forwards to 1969 where she is a thirty-six-year-old actress. All the incidents in the book go back to how Miranda was affected by them, whether the death of her father, the murder of her step-father, the relationships between Joseph and Isobel, also Miranda’s sister by marriage, and her true love, Joseph. Coming from a modest family Miranda is thrown into a world of wealth and elitism, after her mother marries Hugh Fisher. His great-grandfather made the family rich by taking advantage of the Victorian hygiene craze. She is drawn to Joseph, the son of the lighthouse keeper and a lobster fisherman, who is on summer break from Brown University. Realizing she is falling in love with Joseph her dreams are shattered after he is accused of murdering her step-father and she is banished from the island for defending him. “I wanted to explore the relationship between the summer residents and the year-round residents, made up of the working class. The differences included religion: Catholicism of the ordinary folks, and the Episcopal Church of the WASP culture that was only opened during the summer. In addition, there was a class and wealth difference. I wanted to explore all these disparities.” Fast-forward to 1969 after Miranda returns, now a famous actress. Both Joseph and Miranda are escaping. She tries to renew her relationship with her step-sister, Isobel, and her mother, while Joseph is trying to survive as a fugitive. She wants to reignite the love she had for Joseph and prove his innocence. But in doing so, the Island's secrets begin to unravel. “I wanted to show how those who fought in World War II were from the elite class of leaders in the military, political, and industrial world. But during the years the story takes place in they chose to exist on the money their grandparents made. They essentially became spectators instead of participants. This generation prized itself on preservation rather than innovation, so they became static. The future does not belong to people who don’t want to change. They never questioned the values of society. I chose 1969 because of the moon landing. It has the symbolism of showing that this generation were just deep spectators. Once they went into preservation mode they wrote off their own relevance.” The book delves into the themes of heroism, sacrifice, and redemption within the self-contained society. In some ways, it will remind people of those 1930 movies where love conflicts with power. Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. The Trial and Execution of the Traitor George Washingtonby Charles Rosenberg is a great Fourth of July novel. Anyone who feels a sense of patriotism will want to read this gripping story about America’s General George Washington. The suspense ratchets up as readers wonder what will happen to one of America’s greatest heroes. This thought-provoking alternative history book takes place in the midst of the American Revolution. An English plot to kidnap General George Washington, brings him overseas to England, and puts him on trial as a traitor. But some like British Prime Minister Frederick North want to use him as a bargaining chip to put an end to a very costly war. British special agent Colonel Jeremiah Black, an officer of the King’s Guard, is assigned the task of landing on a deserted beach in late November 1780. Aided by “Loyalist” Americans he is able to sprint Washington aboard the HMS Peregrine. Upon their arrival, Washington is imprisoned in the Tower of London to await trial on charges of high treason. An interesting controversy explored, are the US colonies in rebellion and therefore subject to charges of treason, or are they a separate country; thus, Washington should be treated as a prisoner of war? “I found out these were actual arguments at the time. Washington would argue he was a prisoner of war, and that under the laws of war, he must be released at the end of hostilities or exchanged for another prisoner. The debate: were the colonists a legitimate authority or rebels, as the King proclaimed in 1775, in a state of rebellion? Although, there were actually exchanges of prisoners. In 1781 Henry Laurens was swapped for the British General Lord Cornwallis who was famous for losing the Battle of Yorktown. I think given the chance George III would have wanted Washington executed.” Although Washington is more of a secondary character, throughout the novel his presence looms significantly. Key characters include the American ambassador, Ethan Abbott, sent to negotiate Washington’s release, the British Prime Minister Lord North, and the defense attorney chosen to defend Washington, Abraham Hobhouse, an American-born barrister with an English wife. An added highlight has all the characters’ debating key issues of the time. Rosenberg does this with a great writing style where readers do not feel as if they are being hit over the head with a history lesson. Rosenberg noted, “He is definitely not the protagonist of the novel, but is more of a topic in it. I realized that the first third of the book, where the planning and capture of the General happens, would have him not commenting at all. For the second part, where he is on the ship, he is a prisoner, who is basically helpless. This means that he would not have a lot to say. Because various people would have objected and commented that Washington would not have thought that or done this. I tried to present him as his contemporaries described him. There were not a lot of personal writings since Martha Washington burned his letters after he died. This made it hard to get a lot of material. However, I did read his speeches and hope that I came close to the way he would have said things when I did quote him.” This alternative history is informative and interesting, within a gripping novel. Part adventure story, part spy novel, and part courtroom drama it has many twists. This what-if plot has an intriguing storyline. Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. Dark Side of the Moonby Alan Jacobson is another “OPSIG Team Black” adventure. This story will literally take people to a new dimension. Readers will feel they are on a journey on F-18 fighter planes and a trip to the moon while combating espionage, the dark secrets of the moon, and kidnapping. Jacobson commented, “After reading this article about Apollo 17 bringing back moon rocks I had an idea that maybe they could be used for military purposes. Since I do not write science fiction I needed to do a lot of research and worked with some awesome people. I talked with an engineer who worked on the Space Shuttle and is currently working on a NASA project. The different organizations that cooperated were NASA, JPL, Lockheed, and SPACEX. People helped me work out the logistics of how the mission should be carried out. Even though it was quite an endeavor, given the opportunity I would do it again. Mainly, because I have been fascinated with space, growing up with Star Trek and the Apollo missions.” Readers find out that after returning to the earth in 1972 Apollo 17 brought back some classified items. Discovering its importance, a NASA engineer leaks the information to foreign governments. Now there is a race to the moon to find an element called Caesarium. If found it can be used to produce a weapon with an ultimate magnitude of destruction, that has important military applications. In order to stop China and Russia Hector DeSantos and Aaron Uziel (Uzi) join with two astronauts on a mission called Operation Containment. They must prevent Caesarium from being brought back. Meanwhile back on earth, Karen Vail and company have determined that the mission has been sabotaged and they must find out the mole who did it. Karen Vail and her colleague Alexandra Rusakov will have to find the mole and destroy the spy ring that planted malware on the ships that are now headed for the Moon. To complicate matters Hector’s father is kidnapped and will be used as leverage. The author likes to venture out and write new stories. His last book, Darkness of Evil, and his next book will delve into serial killers. “As a writer, I want to keep fresh and different. I want to challenge my characters and myself to acclimate to new environments. Karen Vail has been to Paris, England, and Spain maneuvering through the different cultures, places, laws, and law enforcement. I think this current book about moon elements is extremely relevant. Space can help with our military readiness that includes determining logistics. We need to maintain our superiority in space and should applaud our President’s efforts to reinvigorate our space program. We need a moon base to collect natural resources and use it as a spring board to get to another planet.” Space is coming to the forefront once again. This believable story shows the importance of America keeping its space superiority. It also highlights how Karen Vail must maneuver through lies, betrayals, and disloyalties to find the culprits. Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2018 at BlackFive
The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. Freefallby Adam Hamdy is the second book of a three-book series. The Pendulumhas swung to this novel where all the main characters are trying to survive. FBI Agent Christine Ash is still trying to prove her conspiracy theory, English DI Patrick Bailey is trying to recover, and war photographer John Wallace is attempting to escape his past. Although readers can probably figure out what is happening it is better to read book one, Pendulum. Hamdy commented, “The first book, Pendulum, looks at the consequences of how one person can do someone else wrong. It deals with anger and fear. This book, Freefall, expands upon Pendulumand explores how technology can subvert government and financial institutions. It looks on how each character can trust each other and the government. The third book, Aftershock, looks at our belief system and how technology has changed the way others can manipulate our beliefs, creating an illusion of facts. I call it Fake News on steroids.” The novel starts out with the horrific scene of a London journalist, a mother having hung herself. The death triggers an investigation that brings back together Ash, Wallace, and Bailey, hurling them into the path of an unknown enemy. They have one rule, “Trust no one.” Each have encountered these masked men that target them for the kill. The investigation leads them to discover that the Pendulum killer was not working alone. As with the first book, the theme has Hamdy examining the internet and its excesses. Should there be some sort of regulation and control? Hamdy “thinks technology is only in its infinite stage, and will end up rivaling the Industrial Revolution. No one asks questions about what we want out of it. There are a number of parents who are upset that their children are addicted to social media. There is this perception that we are not living our lives for ourselves, but for an audience. Those on social media who are anonymous are far more rude and aggressive. I am pretty sure if they are in front of the person they are goading they would not behave in that way. It gives people license to go further than they normally would.” It becomes obvious that all three characters are still being put through the ringer, suffering physical and emotional pain as they find themselves in mortal danger. Suicide, attempted beheadings and IED explosions, are all described in graphic detail. After being captured Ash is tortured where the antagonist breaks her, forcing her into a state of pain, fear, fatigue, disorientation and detachment. A book quote, “But that machine had broken her, and trapped in the darkness, she wept at her failure, knowing that she would do or say anything to prevent them using it on her again.” The protagonists have been left with physical and mental scars from their previous encounter.Wallace is punishing himself with guilt over his girlfriend’s death, Bailey has PTSD from his previous experiences with the criminal, and Christine Ash is trying to overcome her childhood demons that have caused her to have trust issues. “I wrote those scenes having more emotional torture than physical torture. I am a great believer that once you read the shock the fear is caused by the reader’s imagination. I think I only suggested the pain, but the reader takes it from there with their mind filling in the gaps. What makes it terrifying are the psychological aspects, the loss of control and how it takes someone to their darkest places.” Tragedy, conspiracies, and deadly encounters powers this adventure and action story. It is a pulse-racing read that is relentless and is not for the squeamish. Readers will empathize with the three heroes, hoping beyond hope that they come out of the danger with an emotional and physical strength. Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2018 at BlackFive
The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. The Prince by Katharine Ashe is the last book in the “Devil Duke series.” With each new book, she outdoes herself. The latest is always better than the last. As with most of her books, she writes how nothing is what it seems to be on the surface. Both the hero and heroine hide their identity, she her gender, and he his background. He becomes a portrait painter so no one will know he is a prince, and she dresses up as a man, hiding the fact she is a woman. A subplot involving murdered women and grave-robbing adds to the mystery of whether the hero and heroine’s secrets will be found out. At the heart of the novel is how Libby Shaw and Ziyaeddin Mizra, aka as Ibrahim Kent strive to save lives. He does it metaphorically, painting the real person, healing someone emotionally, while she does it literally, attempting to heal the body surgically. She is ahead of her time, not willing to give into the social norms that forbid women from becoming doctors. To achieve her life-long dream, to become a member of Edinburgh’s all-male Royal College of Surgeons, she disguises herself as a man. To make this a reality she enlists the help of Ziyaeddin who agrees to allow her to live with him, on one condition,she must sit once a week for him to paint, but as a woman.Eventually they come to realize that they are the only people each feels completely comfortable with, desire, and can depend upon. For anyone who thinks this story cannot be realistic, Ashe refers them to “the biography of James Barry, which inspired Libby’s disguise. He was formerlyMargaret Buckley,a woman who at nineteen changed her name and appearance to enter medical school in Edinburgh in 1809.This was necessary because most men in nineteenth century Britain believed that women lacked the physical and moral nature to be physicians or surgeons.It was not until Barry was on his deathbed that it was discovered he had a female body. I thought that if James Barry could do it for a lifetime, then my character could do it for a year. And I wondered: how many women who sought a different life than they were allowed did this?” Ziyaeddin also hides his identity, frustrated by his seventeen-year exile in Scotland. He is the deposed Prince of Tabir, a small Middle Eastern country. Forced to flee with his mother as a child after his father was killed in a coup he waits for the moment when he can return, take his rightful place on the throne, and rescue his sister. For now, he bides his time, wondering what will become of his and Libby’s relationship. Although Tabir is a fictional country, Ashe sees it as “an invention based on the realm of history. It is a small kingdom between the empires of Russia, the Ottoman Empire, and Iran. He ended up in Edinburgh because it had a port where people came together, similar to those places where he grew up.” The story explores Obsession-Compulsive Disorder. It is written in such a way that readers feel Libby’s pain. There is an understanding of the actual effects that it has on her as a person. It comes to the forefront after Ziyaeddin leaves for London, and Libby is left alone in the house. Anytime there are sudden changes Libby has episodes of irrational behavior where she feels compelled to have everything in order, and will keep doing it again and again until she gets it right. If she can't, she shuts down until she can cope again. After she confides in Ziyaeddin, and he agrees to help her, she realizes he is a special person. Libby is very smart, single-minded in her goal, compassionate,caring, thoughtful, and very determined. Ziyaeddin compliments her with his kindness, gentleness, firmness, strength, as well as his protective, nurturing,and caring ways. Infused in the story are fascinating pieces of nineteenth-century history. This is by no means an information dump, but facts that allow the story to come alive. Ashe has the ability to make sure it does not overwhelm the plot, yet readers learn about the culture, politics, and social norms of the era. This is a refreshing adventure story with a theme of friendship and respect. Ashe weaves in important topics of prejudice, racism, mental health, disability, and equality that make the plot and characters relatable. Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. Second Strike by Peter Kirsanow has Special Operator Michael Garin returning to save the day again. This Superman quote applies, Garin “fights the unending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.” He will once again face off against his nemesis, Russian Special Operator Taras Bor in this action-packed thriller. Mike Garin was not written as an anti-hero. “I wrote him as someone who is sure about the righteousness of his cause. He sleeps very well at night. Never apologetic for defending America. I wanted him to be a Gary Cooper type, the old-fashioned gun slinger who is on the side of right. I met many operators and my brother-in-law used to be one. They believe in America and understand what must be done to keep it as the greatest country in the world. Garin was inspired in part by a couple of operators I’ve known, but he’s chiefly a combination of the attributes of my brother-in-law and my late father, one of the world’s great badasses. In fact, Nikolai “Pop” Garin is my father. The existential struggle between Garin and his nemesis Taras Bor is a metaphor between the existential struggle of America and its chief enemies. In future books readers will find out something about Bor that will surprise them and put some things in perspective.” At the center of the plot is the ongoing geopolitical tension between Russia and America. Just weeks after thwarting an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack by the Russians and Iranians, Garin and company realize that Russia is planning something else, a massive cyber-attack using ISIS wannabes. It is a warning of sorts that hammers the point home, America does not have a response doctrine to a massive attack of either magnitude. Without government support, Garin turns to three people for help: Congo Knox, a former Delta Force sniper; Dan Dwyer, the head of a sprawling military contracting firm; and Olivia Perry, an aide to the national security advisor. As the tension mounts up Garin must stop the attack or millions will die. Kirsanow commented, “Because of my job I am at a lot of committee hearings. The first book, Target Omega, was inspired by a 2010 hearing on EMP. For this book, I happened on a committee meeting regarding cyber-attacks. It was shortly after that where China hacked the Office of Personal Management. My assistant on the Committee of Civil Rights had her file hacked. It affected so many people I know. The administration at the time did nothing to protect those individuals. The opening scene in this book refers to how previous administrations let problems fester. If we do not have plans to deal with these dangers it amounts to ‘defense malpractice.’” This story has never ending action. Readers will be on the edge of their chairs as they quickly turn the pages to see how Garin thwarts Bor and the Russians. Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. A Steep Priceby Robert Dugoni perfectly balances the character’s professional and personal lives. This sixth book in the series continues with Seattle Violent Crimes homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite and her fellow A-Team colleagues. Although the two cases to solve are not related, Dugoni is able to show how a real precinct works. The first crime has Vic Fazzio (Faz) and his partner investigating the murder of a community activist who stood up to the realities of drug dealing, sex escorts, and gangs. Faz’s determination to nail the obvious suspect leads him to a South Park housing project. He searches for evidence against the menacing Cartel Surano, which is led by Little Jimmy. They are a powerful local gang, dealing in drugs and terrorizing the local community, ensuring that they do not cooperate with the police. Because his partner injured his back Vic is now paired with the newbie, Andrea Gonzalez. Complicating everything is the shooting of the key witness. His and Gonzalez’s account do not mesh and it appears she is trying to frame him over the fatal shot. The other crime has Tracy Crosswhite helping on a missing person’s case. Besides the investigation Dugoni explores many social issues including “sugar dating,” and the different cultural expectations of East Indian women versus the ramifications in contemporary society. After the body turns up in an abandoned well, Tracy wonders if anyone in the victim’s estranged family is responsible. Kavita Mukherjee balked at an arranged marriage and had plans to attend medical school, but her dreams have now been cut short. She was resolute to make it on her own and raised money by having a “sugar daddy” on the side. With people of interest mounting up Tracy is determined to find Kavita’s killer. Dugoni explained, “I got into a UBER with a young guy in the car. We got to talking and he told me he had just been married. I asked if he had dated for a long time and the response, ‘no, it was an arranged marriage.’ He was Eastern Indian and told me he met her twice before the marriage. His parents were the product of an arranged marriage and have been together for thirty years. I was told by him arranged marriages have a lot less divorces. As he was talking I took notes in my head and then started the research.” To help solve the crime Tracy uses a technological angle. Cell phones play an important role and they almost appear to be a secondary character. The important keys include the phone’s location history, the Find My iPhone app that can be shared between phones, and text messages with parental safeguards. It is a subtle warning how technology contributes to less privacy for the individual. Another issue explored is maternity leave. Tracy is pregnant and worries that a new hire, Andrea Gonzalez, is being groomed to take her place. A book quote explains her thinking, “It would be much more difficult for her to argue discrimination if Nolasco (her Captain) replaced her with another woman-especially a minority woman.” “I wrote Tracy as a tough cookie. When on the job she is all business. Her problem is she must deal with a sexist pig, Captain Johnny Nolasco. Her concern is that he brought in a Hispanic woman, Andrea Gonzalez. If a team has an urgent need they can bring in somebody. She can have her job back, but not necessarily with the A Team. She will have to be put back in a position of a detective on a violent crimes team. Yet, she can become the fifth wheel or go to another team. It will be difficult for her to argue she was demoted because of sexism. I think in other circumstances she and Gonzalez would probably have been close instead of clashing as they are now.” The dedication of the book, “To all the women who have suffered from breast cancer and have fought the good fight. Hopefully, someday, research will break through and we finally will have a cure.” In this story, a few of the characters are suffering from breast cancer, Vera included. “I wrote those scenes because some in my family have it. My mother is a breast-cancer survivor of twenty-five years. She went through it when I was younger. I have a sister-in-law who is currently going through this. We lost my cousin’s wife from breast cancer. It really impacts families. It really impacted me. It is very difficult.” These fast-moving plot lines intertwined with some social issues creates a gripping story. Dugoni’s ability to tell a riveting action-packed plot while exploring the topics of arranged marriages, returning to work after a pregnancy, a cancer diagnosis, sex escorts, and drug dealers within a community, makes for a riveting suspense novel. Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. A Dying Noteby Ann Parker brings to life San Francisco during the late 1800s. As a co-owner of the Silver Queen Saloon the main character, Inez Stannert, had a stake in an upscale brothel. This sixth book of the series has a change of venue from Leadville Colorado to San Francisco California. Besides the change of setting there is a change of professions for Inez and her ward, Antonia Gizzi. Parker noted she changed the setting because “I live in the Bay area. This is a new setting for me because the past five books were placed in Leadville Colorado. Also, it was a hot bed for labor activity with the Waterfront and printer organizations. This allowed me to write in about a possible musicians’ labor union. I think at some level I was going to have her leave, as Inez says that Leadville was just a stop along the way and that she and her ward were supposed to go to San Francisco.” Inez is content to settle into her new life until the body of a musician washes ashore upon the banks of San Francisco’s Mission Creek Bay. She recognizes the victim, someone who came to her for piano lessons. As Inez begins her investigation, she is confronted by her shady past in the form of Leadville silver baron Harry Gallagher. He gives her one-week to discover the murderer, or he will expose her past associations and threatens to ruin her socially/financially. Time grows short as Inez uncovers long-hidden secrets and unsettled scores that affect lives and reputations. Inez is a strong woman protagonist. “I spoke with and learned from Women Writing The West who influenced me to set my story in the historical West. Inezis a woman with a mysterious past, a complicated present, and an uncertain future. I based her name on my paternal grandmother’s maiden name. My family actually thought she would have got a kick out of it. What the fictional and real women had in common is a will of iron, strong women. They powered through from their difficulties. She was a woman of her times. Women who came to the West made a life for themselves. They tended to be pretty strong willed emotionally, spiritually, and physically.” Realizing the death might have something to do with union organizers, Inez is not content to sit back and do nothing. The victim, Jamie Monroe, wanted to establish unions, including one geared for musicians. He was also working to secure enough money to marry Carmella Donato, the daughter of Nick Donato. He is the partner of Inez, as well as a well-respected businessman, and an accomplished musician who tries to find employment for musicians who frequent his establishment. Throughout the story readers get tidbits of information about San Francisco. They will visit the eloquent Palace Hotel, and the dangerous areas of the Barbary Coast and Chinatown. Besides a good mystery, information about places, clothing, businesses, transportation, and education makes the story interesting. Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. Jar of Heartsby Jennifer Hillier blends a murder, cover-up, and twisted relationships. Through manipulated lives, prison hardships, abuse, friendship, and wrecked futures readers understand how someone’s life can go so wrong. The story came from an article Hillier read, “about the wife of a serial killer that was released from prison and re-invented her life. Karla Homolka was the wife of Paul Bernardo, a serial killer that murdered three young women back in the ’90s in Toronto. Karla testified against her husband in exchange for twelve years, which turned out to be a very lenient sentence once it was discovered what an instrumental role she played in helping Bernardo find his victims. Her sentence was not harsh because she claimed he was abusive and she became a victim of his as well. After serving her time she re-married, had children of her own, and became a PTA mom. For me this is just mind blowing.” The story centers on Georgina (Geo) Shaw, someone who had to deal with the grief of losing her mother and two best friends. But it appeared she overcame it, becoming a successful, thirty-year-old self-made executive at a Seattle pharmaceutical company. That is until she was arrested at a board meeting and charged with being an accomplice in Angela Wong’s murder, her high school best friend. She makes a plea deal, to testify against her former abusive boyfriend and the actual killer, Sweetbay Strangler, Calvin James. Not only did he choke Angela to death, but also killed three others. Georgina is sentenced to five years in prison for her role. After she is released from prison, new killings of mothers and their children start piling up, and Geo, unable to escape her past, is suspected of knowing something about the new murders. The author commented, “I want readers to be unsure if they liked, disliked, or are somewhere in between with Geo. After all she was only sixteen when her friend was murdered and she was scared of Calvin and scared about going to prison with a feeling that her life would be ruined. Because Angela was already dead she felt it would not matter if she came forward. As days went by it became harder and harder for her to get out of the lies. The secrets just pile up. How do you go back and undue all of that? Since no one specifically asked her she was hoping it would just go away. She basically learned how to compartmentalize. I do think she felt if someone had asked her that she would have told them and confessed. She became entrapped by her own secrets. Her moral code shut down and her survival mode took over. She did not think of the other consequences, that more women could die and Angela’s family would never have closure. I hope readers think what would they do if they were put in that position? I would have probably gone to the police.” Each character has a connection in this psychological thriller. A book quote shows how almost all of them are unsympathetic, “In every story there is a hero and a villain, but sometimes one person can be both.” The only exception would be detective Kaiser Brody who strives to get justice. He, Angela, and Geo were considered the Three Musketeers in high school. What they all had in common was an obsession for each other: Calvin desiring Geo all for himself, Geo wanting to be Angela’s constant sidekick, Kaiser’s unrequited love for Geo through the years, and Angela the “mean girl.” This dark novel exemplifies how easy it is to make bad decisions that can never be taken back. Fourteen years ago, Geo was complicit in her friend’s death. She watched her boyfriend, Calvin, kill and bury Angela, keeping the dark secret from the police, her friends, and her family. Because of this Geo went to prison where she suffered unbearable hardships. “I wrote Geo’s prison experience and was influenced by a number of sources. For years I was obsessed with the TV show Lock Up. I spent a day taking a tour of a correction facility for women outside Seattle to see how they lived and interacted. It has its own world that can be very bleak and monotonous. I think I would be like Geo and adapt to the situation because we are both scrappy. Just as she did I would make friends with the right people. I also talked with someone who used to work in corrections. She told me how manipulative inmates are, many deviate and evil. Given the right circumstances it could bring out the worst in people.” It is a riveting story that readers will not want to put down. Just when people think they have the plot figured out Hillier throws a curve ball with an even more sinister and darker plot. Murder, lies, grief, obsession, guilt, friendship, and distorted love add up to make a gripping story. Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. A Rebel Heartby Beth White brings to light the Reconstruction Era with a gripping story. It is a valuable tale of love and forgiveness between the characters and as a nation. Readers will be sympathetic not to the brutal plantation slave owner, but to those who became collateral damage. White shows that during this time period nothing is black and white, but much more is grey.Three sisters, Selah, Joelle, and Aurora Daughtry try to save their Mississippi home after the Civil War. With the help of a Yankee, Levi Riggins, a retired Union officer, now a Pinkerton agent, they agree to convert the plantation to a hotel. White noted, “I thought to make the main heroine an improvised Southern belle who grew up on a plantation and now years after the war’s end has a lot to lose. I wanted to add tension to the story by making the hero a retired Union Officer who served in Mississippi. I also had the southern family depend on their freed slaves to help them survive.” An early scene has drunk Union soldiers beating and raping a Southern woman, the mother of the Daughtery daughters. White has readers realize that many Southerners also suffered during and after the Civil War. She presents both sides of the story, the rebel father who is prejudiced and resents how his way of life has been destroyed, the daughters, Selah, Joelle, and Aurora, who want a roof over their head and food in their stomachs, and the freed slaves who attempt to use their skills to make a living. The ruthless scene was based on the memoirs of Benjamin Grierson. “When I read about him I knew I had to write in this scene. He commanded a cavalry brigade, raiding many Confederate railroad and military facilities throughout Mississippi. Grant used this to divert attention while he took Vicksburg. Throughout the memoir he wrote what his men did, some of it was very brutal.” The mystery comes into play with Levi’s investigation into several train robberies and explosions. He wears two hats in this story. Someone seeking the perpetrators who have slipped away near the plantation, and a hotel management agent. His cover allows him to remain close to Selah, able to investigate the plantation and his initial suspicions of her, while pursuing his attraction to her. The Southern and Northern gap is bridged with the chemistry that exists between the Union officer, Levi, and the Southern belle, Selah. She agrees to his plan to develop the run-down estate into a glamorous hotel, completely unaware that Levi only proposed the idea as a way to keep his cover as he continues to search for the robbers. Readers will learn about the exploration of the economic and social devastation in the south. Each character had a different way of trying to rebuild their society and life, striving to create a better future with the help of a Yankee no less. With a plot full of action and intrigue and many likeable characters this novel becomes a must read. Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. Dreams of Fallingby Karen White once again proves why readers have fallen in love with her books. Blending together friendships, betrayal, loyalty, and forgiveness over three generations makes for a gripping plot. At the heart of the mystery are the secrets each character is hiding. The story can be considered anti-Cinderella. White explains, “I wanted to have it realistic where dreams do not always come true. I wanted to show it is not the end of the world if they don’t. Another door will open, and that everyone should have a Plan B. I had the Tree of Dreams, a moss-draped oak on the banks of the North Santee River. The three girls, Ceecee, Margaret, and Bitty, wrote their dreams on ribbons and placed it into the tree's trunk, including the most important one: ‘Friends forever, come what may.’ I personally have had really bizarre dreams, which my daughter tries to interpret. My imagination and the desire to learn more about dreams is why I decided to put this in. But the story is not about nocturnal dreams, but the dreams of the three girls, what they hoped for the future.” This is a story about three generations of women and is told from the perspective of Ceecee, Ivy, and Larkin. The main story goes from the present day (2010) to 1951 flashbacks. Set in Georgetown, South Carolina, the story begins as Larkin returns home to help locate her missing mother, Ivy, and realizes there is a dark secret centering around the death of one of Ceecee’s best friends from high school. Margaret, Ceecee, and Bitty have just graduated from high school in 1951 with all their dreams ahead of them. But they are shattered when Margaret finds she is an unwed mother who lost her fiancé while fighting in the Korean War. Years later her daughter Ivy has a similar experience when she loses her recently married husband who fought in Vietnam. Now the third generation, Larkin, must piece together what happened during those turbulent years. The mystery comes into play as the fifty-year secrets are slowly unveiled. “I wrote how each character had a different reason for keeping them. It presented the family and friend dynamics. Maybe they were used to save a friendship or to protect those they loved. I do not think people who keep secrets always have bad intentions. The mystery is what happened between the friends. To emphasize this point I put in the quote, ‘It’s easy to be kind and giving and loyal when you have everything. But the mark of a true friend is when everything is taken away and you’re still kind, giving, and loyal.’” White masterfully crafts a story that has deep emotion, a riveting mystery, and surprising twists. Readers will keep the pages turning to find out what happens to all the characters. Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. Justice Betrayedby Patricia Bradley is the third book in the Memphis Cold Case series. Any series set in Memphis must eventually delve into its famous resident, Elvis Presley. Bradley combines a riveting mystery with some fun facts about the Elvis Week that includes a tribute contest. Homicide detective Rachel Sloan must endure interviewing an Elvis impersonator, Vic Vegas, who wants her to look into the death of his friend, another impersonator that happened years ago. He entices her by claiming that his death is related to her mother’s murder, which has never been solved. After Vic turns up dead she and her supervisor, Lieutenant Boone Callahan join forces to find out who killed Vic and if there are any ties to the past cases. What they discover places all of them, particularly Rachel, in harm's way. This is not the first time they have worked together. In the previous book, Justice Buried, they joined forces, she a burglary detective, while he was a homicide detective. Their relationship went beyond professional when they dated for a few weeks. Now that she has switched to homicide, with Boone as her supervisor, any relationship between them is prohibited. Even though they still seem to have a chemistry between them their painful past history must be sorted out before they have any chance at reconciliation. Each character must deal with the guilt they felt, blaming themselves for a loved ones’ death. Bradley noted, “I based that guilt on me. When I was in sixth grade I had a friend, whose father murdered her and her mother. I was supposed to have a sleepover that night, but cancelled. I always felt if I had gone maybe I could have done something. In the story Rachel felt that way also. Maybe if she was home she could have prevented her mother from being murdered.” Boone struggles with the death of a comrade that he fought alongside in the Iraqi War. Bradley wants to give a shout out to all veterans, “I have a friend who has had three tours of duty in Afghanistan. I also knew the book was going to come out about a week after Memorial Day. We call it Decoration Day in the South. Many go to the graves and place flowers after cleaning up the graveyard for those who paid the ultimate price. I think many of us take our soldiers for granted. They have given up and sacrificed so much for us. My friend who is serving told me that he must leave his family for a year without seeing them. I think many of us do not understand how the soldiers are away from their loved ones, as civilians we have no idea. Many times, we fail to let them know how we appreciate their service.” This book has it all: well-developed characters, a chilling mystery, and the re-emergence of Elvis. Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. The Gray Ghost by Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell takes readers on a thrilling car ride as they race to find a valuable antique car before the bad guys find it. Amateur sleuths Sam and Remi Fargo, smart and philanthropic self-made multimillionaires, find adventure at every turn. Burcell describes the two characters, “People have referred to them as a modern Nick and Nora Charles from the “Thin Man Series.” For me, I think they are more like the couple that was in the “Hart to Hart” TV shows. I think the Fargos are the vehicle for the plot. They are able to be sleuths because of their background. Sam is a CIA type who knows hand-to-hand combat, while Remi is a linguist and an expert marksman. Together they are a forced to be reckoned with.” The authors brilliantly explain the backstory through a journal, that becomes almost a secondary character. The back and forth between 1906 and the current time makes the story even more riveting. A distant relative of theirs seeks their help in finding a rare 1906 Rolls Royce prototype, The Gray Ghost to clear his uncle’s name. In the course of their investigation they find that it might contain a rare treasure of money stolen in a train robbery more than a century ago. Much to their detriment they find others are also looking for the car, and are willing to do whatever it takes to recover the car and the treasure. The body count mounts up as Sam and Remi search for the auto, while trying to avoid getting killed. Because Clive Cussler is such a fan of antique cars Burcell told of how the story came about, “He actually has a museum in Colorado full of his collector cars. I saw him bid on two different cars including the Ahrens-Fox fire-engine, the one written about in this story. While watching him bidding on it I thought it would be cool if we wrote it into the plot. As I was doing the research the idea of writing a plot around something that has been lost was formulated. We decided on having the artifact a prototype to the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost. This story takes real history, tweeks it, and has a ‘what if’ aspect: what if it is about a car that never made it to the car show.” Clive Cussler fans have fun spotting him in the story. It should remind people of what Alfred Hitchcock did in his movies. He will come in and help the protagonist with the investigation. In this book there are two references, one where his name is mentioned outright and one with a cameo appearance where readers have to figure out by the description. This is a fun story. Besides the banter between the characters readers learn some interesting facts about cars. What the authors have done is maintain a balance between what is interesting with what is necessary for the story, creating an exciting mystery. Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. Coffin Corner Boysby Carole Avriett is a compelling read about a B-17 crew that escaped from Nazi-occupied France after their plane was shot down. This book is a reminder of the Greatest Generation’s spirit, bravery, and patriotism. Those flying the B-17 suffered numerous casualties. Readers learn the harrowing dangers the crewmen faced from the time they jumped out of their burning plane to attempting to survive and avoid being captured. They were assigned the vulnerable position of the mission’s configuration called the Coffin Corner. Having to fly low squadron, low group, flying #6 in the bomber box formation they were exposed to hostile fire. Avriett recounts how “on March 16th, 1944 the ten-member crew had to bail out of their plane after it was shot down. It was not a done deal that they would even land safely. Think about it. They were not trained to parachute out of planes, and never practiced it. They had to jump out of it while it flew in excess of 250 mph into subzero temperatures. One of the guys had his back cracked when the force of the chute shot upward after being opened. The pilot, Captain George W. Starks, landed so hard his foot broke. Then there were the German fighter pilots that tried to shoot them in mid-sky or maneuvered close so the parachute’s air would be sucked out, leaving the airman to plummet to his death.” Each crewmember had to endure the severe cold, wetness, hunger, and exhaustion. Irv Baum and Ted Badder had the misfortune of landing by two Frenchmen who turned them into the Nazis for two thousand francs. Baum who was Jewish tried denying that he was “A Hebrew. I was told ‘you’re lying,’ and at the same moment was backhanded across the face hard enough to break open the corner of my left eye. We were sent to a processing camp near Frankfurt where they questioned us about the names of our crew. I kept saying it was a crew I didn’t usually fly with, so I didn’t know any of them. About midnight, about five of us were taken outside. Then six or seven guards came out with rifles, lined us up and the officer yelled ‘Ready. Aim. Fire.’ But nothing happened. They put us back into our cells and I spent a sleepless night.” Many people know of the Japanese Bataan Death March of Filipinos and American POWS, but the Germans also had one, the Black Death March. In February 1945 crew member Dick Morse told how the Germans starved the 6000 POWS and marched them in the cold winter weather. Those lagging behind would be ‘gun-butted’ by the guards and sometimes a German would drop back and take one of them into the bushes or woods. “We would hear a shot-then the guard would return alone.” They were provided very little food and had to drink from streams that gave them dysentery. They suffered pneumonia, diphtheria, typhus, trench foot, tuberculosis, blisters, abscesses, and frostbite. They were marched for three months, traveling six hundred miles until rescued on May 2nd, 1945 with only 20% surviving. Thankfully for some of the other crew members, they were never captured. Many of the French civilians risked everything to help them. Captain Starks told of how he was given “a share of whatever meager food they had. Anyone who helped me did so at terrible risk to themselves. Any French civilian caught helping a downed Allied airman was summarily taken out of his house by the Germans and shot: man, woman, child, it made no difference.” There were even some humanitarians among the German soldiers. While Baum was being processed as a POW in March 1944 he had to fill out a form that included his religion. A young German enlisted soldier took the pencil away from Baum and wrote “Protestant” on the form. This is an inspirational book that recounts how these men went on an adventure of bravery and courage and were able to come home thanks to their grit and the willingness of others to help. As Avriett noted, “We are losing our WWII veterans every day. These stories need to be told, heard, and preserved for prosperity.” Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman Deluxe Edition shows the evolution of the character created in 1933 by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster. They sold Superman to Detective Comics, the future DC Comics, in 1938. This book shows why Superman has maintained his appeal from generation to generation. The book features over 19 stories and essays including a forward by Paul Levitz, an introduction by Laura Siegel Larson (Jerry Siegel’s daughter) and other pieces by Jules Feiffer, Tom DeHaven, Marv Wolfman, David Hajdu, Larry Tye and Gene Luen Yang. There is also a section with cover highlights and full biographies at the end. The comic stories include the first comic, “The Mystery of The Freight Train Robberies” to “The Super-Duel In Space,” and ending with “The Game” written in April 2018. There are also stories that explore the relationship between Lois Lane, Clark Kent, and Superman as well as some cameo appearances by some famous figures including President John F. Kennedy. Readers are treated to comics that explore the origins of Supergirl, Brainiac, the Fortress of Solitude, as well as a previously unpublished 1940s Superman tale believed to be written by Jerry Siegel with art by the Joe Shuster studio, salvaged fifty years ago and hidden away. Along with this book, people can also purchase the 1000thedition, making Superman the first comic book to reach that highlight. Below is an interview with Larry Tye who wrote the essay in the book, Endurance.He is a journalist and author of many biographies including Bobby Kennedy, Satchel Paige, and the Man of Steel, entitled The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero. Elise Cooper: How has Superman changed over the years regarding his appearance and the enemies he has faced, which includes politicians? Larry Tye: Superman has evolved more than the fruit fly. In the 1930s he was just the crime fighter we needed to take on Al Capone and the robber barons. In the forties, he defended the home front while brave GIs battled overseas. Early in the Cold War he stood up taller than ever for his adopted country, while in its waning days he tried singlehandedly to eliminate nuclear stockpiles. For each era, he zeroed in on the threats that scared us most, using powers that grew or diminished depending on the need. So did his spectacles, hair style, even his job title. Each generation had the Superman it needed and deserved. Each change offered a Rorschach test of the pulse of that time and its dreams. Superman, always a beacon of light, was a work in progress. EC: What influences has Superman been on comics, movies, and TV shows? LT: Over the years comics have been transformed – from childhood entertainment to art form to mythology – and Superman helped drive that transformation. The comic book and its leading man could only have taken root in America. What could be more U.S.A. than an orphaned outsider who arrives in this land of immigrants, reinvents himself, and reminds us that we can reach for the sky?Yet today this flying Uncle Sam is both global and multi-media in his reach, having written himself into the national folklore from Beirut to Buenos Aires. It is that constancy and purity – knowing that he is not merely the oldest of our superheroes, but the most transcendent – that has reeled back aging devotees like me and drawn in new ones like my daughter. It is what makes the Man of Tomorrow timeless as well as ageless. EC: Do you think the aviation's golden age influenced having Superman fly? LT: I think it has less to do with what was happening in the real world of aviation than in the heads of his creators. Superman was a man of the world, perennially on call and needing to dash to wherever Lois Lane and others required his help. Flying would have made that easier and would become his trademark, but it did not happen overnight in the comic books or strips. The most he could manage in 1938 was leaping an eighth of a mile and outracing an express train. Two years later, after what must have been intense training, he could vault into and beyond the stratosphere, outrace an airplane, and run a mile in a scant second. By 1942 he could run at the speed of light and outpace an electric current. But still no take-off. There were hints it was coming in a single frame of a story in May 1943, when his jump looked like he might be taking flight, and he did, finally and irrefutably, that October in Action Comics’ “Million-Dollar Marathon” story. “Let’s see ya fly!” adoring boys at Children’s Hospital yelled to Superman, and so he did, telling them, “I’ll be back for a real visit pretty soon! Up – up – and away!” EC: I noticed in the first Superman issue there was a comment, "You're not fighting a woman," and in the comic “Superman and The Teen Titans,” Wonder Girl says to him, "Nowadays us liberated ladies don't take much to being called inferior by a man." Do you think women's issues also played a role? LT: Yes, and that was especially apparent with the launch of a comic that let women and girls see a Superman-like character created in their own image. The fellow Kryptonian who gave Superman the greatest joy, and the most sleepless nights, was his cousin Kara Zor-El, known on Earth as Supergirl. It took until 1959 to launch her as a character, when we quickly got the full story. The Maid of Steel, who would get her own comic book, gave Superman a blood relative and fellow outsider with whom he could let down his defenses. If youths of all stripes embraced Superboy,... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. The Lost Pilots by Corey Mead combines an adventure story, a tragic love story, and a crime story into one narrative. It has it all: a fascinating look back into the early days of aviation, a love triangle, bringing back to prominence Jessie Keith-Miller, a female pioneer pilot, and a murder trial. The story begins in 1927, when World War I pilot, Captain William Lancaster and Jessie Keith-Miller take off from London, aspiring to complete a record-breaking flight to Australia, the first in a light plane. Although they were basically strangers, they bonded over their desire for adventure, fame, and escape from unhappy marriages. There are many scenes that underscore the dangers of flying during those early days. Having crashed numerous times it became obvious that weather was a character, an enemy with its slashing rain and battering crosswinds, sleet, and fog that could easily bring down these light planes. After successfully completing the flight, they found they were international celebrities, but also deeply in love. The spotlight takes them from Australia to New York to Hollywood. Their celebrity status is exploited, yet as lovers they must fall under the radar since both are still married. Making matters worse the crash of 1929 causes them financial problems. Their lives were influenced by the era, having lived through World War I, the Roaring 20s, and the Great Depression. Mead believes the effect of “WWI taught that generation how to cheat death. They became free-spirits, wanting to escape the Victorian upbringing. I also wanted to show how there was huge bias against female flyers. Jessie was probably a better pilot than Lancaster. But living in the Roaring Twenties also helped her because it was a time where women became more independent and started to enter the male-dominated world.” Since the depression dried up any commercial flying possibilities, Jessie participates in the Women’s Air Derby, rooming with Amelia Earhart, while Lancaster seeks other flying adventures. Still in need of money Jessie decides to write her autobiography with Haden Clark as her ghostwriter. Having been granted a divorce she accepts Clark’s marriage proposal. After returning to Miami where Jessie and Clark lived, Lancaster became devastated when told of the couple’s plans. That night Clark is found dead of a gunshot wound. Was it murder or suicide? A riveting and scandalous trial ensues that ultimately costs Jessie her fame as she stands by Lancaster. Mead noted, “The entire court room case was presented verbatim in the Miami newspapers. It covered not only the trial but also Jessie’s and Lancaster’s background. I was able to draw a pretty complete picture of their lives from the newspapers at the time, their diaries/writings, and talking with his great nephew. What I discovered was that it was similar to today’s sensational court cases where tragedy and misfortune are exploited for entertainment as the public’s hunger is fed.” This book combines the daring days of the early aviators with a passionate love story. A true story of adventure, forbidden love, fame, fortune, tragedy, scandal, and loyalty. Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. Gale Forceby Owen Laukkanen is a realistic story where readers take the journey with the characters as they board the ship, and feel the splash of the waves. It is an attest to the author’s writing style he is able to make an intense adventure story of a maritime salvage operation. The author based the story on “The wreck at the center of the tale is based on the real-life saga of the Cougar Ace, which did in fact capsize near the Aleutian Islands. You’re so isolated on the water, and at the mercy of very powerful forces of nature. The potential for conflict and action is always there. It’s just such a different environment from anything any of us is really used to, in particular in really remote places like the Aleutian Islands or the Arctic Ocean.” The plot has McKenna Rhodes inheriting the Gale Force, a salvage boat, after her father died in violent weather on the open seas. Hearing about a salvage operation, she and the crew decide to attempt a rescue of a freighter, the Pacific Lion, which has turned over on its side during a horrific storm. A stowaway who has stolen fifty million in bonds from a Japanese gangster hampers them along with other salvage tugs. After finally getting a contract from the insurance company McKenna and crew can earn $30 million for saving the ship and its property. She is smart, brave, beautiful, and wants to prove that she is able to navigate this male-dominated world. He describes her, “I wanted to write a character that is daunted by the magnitude and responsibility of being a captain. I based her insecurities on a lot of people I met that worked on the water and are aware that if a mistake is made people’s lives are at stake; thus, constant worriers. Also, when I was on a train going from Seattle to Los Angeles I met this single mother from Idaho. In order to feed her four children, she started a trucking company. I thought she would make a good character for a story since trucking like tugboats is a male dominated boys club. She told me how she struggled with men who tried breaking contracts because they objected to a woman trying to make inroads. I wanted to show how McKenna also struggles with this. Both were seen as a small fish in a big pond.” Another character in the book is the ocean the alternates between playing an antagonist and a protagonist. “I wanted to write it as an ever-present threat. Every second the crew spends on the ship they must realize that the ocean could suddenly turn on them. The main characters love the ocean and feel at home around it. They are attracted to it; yet, at any moment it could destroy them. One day the ocean is beautiful and calm, while the next day a storm can pick up, showing the ocean’s anger, basically eating someone alive. The environment is as unpredictable as any human character in the book.” The first in a new series starts out with a splash, not a drizzle. It is a riveting and intense action-filled story with very well-developed characters. Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. Alex and Elizahas taken the world by storm. Whether the play by Lin-Manuel Miranda or the novels by Melissa De La Cruz, people are craving for more information about the Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza Schuyler. The first in the series, Alex and Eliza, and its sequel,Love & War,emphasize the romance more than the historical, as the author brings to life the love story of these two Revolutionary figures. Melissa wants to emphasize, “Alex is a creation based on an historical figure. I consider him someone I made up from the real person. These are characters. They may be historical figures, but they are also characters of my imagination. I think that Alexander Hamilton never went by the name ‘Alex.’ There is no way Eliza would call him ‘Alex’, and more likely called him Mr. Hamilton till the day he died.” In the first book, Alex and Eliza,the plot spans the years from when they first met in 1777 to their marriage in 1780. Because there is not much information about Eliza, the author had to take liberties to construct a story that was somewhat accurate, weaving together fact and fiction. Hamilton is seen as a smitten dashing knight who sweeps the princess, Eliza, off her feet. But it is also a Prince and the Pauper story since Hamilton was an orphan who did not have a name or financial means. The bright, ambitious, but penniless Hamilton is drawn to practical Eliza, falling deeply in love. His prestige comes from being the aide-de-camp to General George Washington. Eliza is seen as a strong-willed, sharp-tongued, sarcastic, and intelligent woman. She wants to marry for love, not prestige and wealth, but will not go against her parent’s wishes. A book quote shows how powerless women were during those times, “It is a cliff, a drop into some unfathomably deep and foggy abyss… a shipwreck.” Yet, in the end, love wins out, and her parents accept Hamilton as a suitable husband. She wanted to write it as a perfect American fairy tale. "Elizabeth (Eliza) was the princess coming from one of the most prestigious and richest New York families. Then there was Alexander Hamilton, a handsome, brilliant, brave, and charming war hero who had no name and no money. I thought about how someone like him could marry someone like her.” Readers will get a glimpse of the time period: how they dress, eat, and live are described in great detail. For example, a scene in the book has Eliza helping to inoculate Washington’s troops with a smallpox vaccine. Fiction, Eliza did not have a hand in it, while, the truth is that the soldiers were inoculated. Another factual scene has a description of Eliza’s dress, with “skirt, underskirt, petticoat, slip, and ankle-length, form-fitting pantaloons.” Melissa, “I am fascinated with the time period including the architecture, dress, and what they ate. What I wanted to do is find the facts and then incorporate them into scenes of the books. I myself tried to understand who they were, how they lived, and how they partied. I enjoyed finding the details that helps to bring this story to life.” The second book in the series, Love & War, by Melissa De La Cruz has the Revolutionary War still prominent, although it is coming to an end. This story shows the struggles of early married life as Alexander Hamilton is trying to make a name for himself to prove himself worthy, while Eliza is trying to make her way into high society. The story delves into the same problem many young couples face, even today, how Alexander Hamilton has a burning ambition, and Eliza is trying to find her place in this world. At first, he was off to war, leaving his newly wed bride with her family, and then at the war’s conclusion he starts up his law practice, spending long hours, and basically neglecting his wife. Unlike the first book, this one does have more of a balance between romance and history. It delves into the topics of unemployment, financial crises, and the political divide. As a lawyer, he took on many loyalist clients, arguing for reconciliation and challenged the laws that penalized them. The story touches on the three views of political thought for this young nation: Hamilton believes in a strong central government; Jefferson’s belief is a middle ground of limited government except for national security, and those like Governor George Clinton who wants each state to have absolute control. With a quote that is relevant today, the author shows the divide among Americans, “We will only stand if we learn to accept and even embrace each other’s differences rather than allow them to divide us.” The case he argues is based on many similar cases. "I found out he became known after the Revolution as someone who defended those loyal to the Crown. After the War, many wanted to take the Loyalists’ property and position. He had the foresight to know that to be the United States of America everyone had to be a part of this country.” Readers get a glimpse into the real personality of Eliza. How Hamilton is growing to depend on her as his psychological anchor, where she views his enemies as hers. There is a fictional scene in the book where she calls out Governor Clinton as she defends her husband, “This man whose hand I hold and whose ring I share put his life on the line for this country over and over…” This is a very similar tone to what actually happened when she told former President James Monroe, “If you come to tell me you repent, that you are sorry, very sorry, for the misrepresentations and the slanders and the stories you circulated against... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. The Agency by Australian author James Phelan is making a big splash here in the United States. Anyone who likes the action continuing at a harrowing pace will enjoy this story. There is also enough fun dialogue between the characters to put a smile on readers’ faces. This prequel introduces Jed Walker, a former Lt. Colonel in the Air Force who has decided to join the CIA. The reason for a prequel, “I wanted to challenge myself since this is the first prequel I have ever written. I think it is more of a suspense novel than a thriller. I hope to show how Jed is personally driven, wanting to hunt down the bad targets. This gave me the opportunity to explain why Jed decided to move from the military to the CIA. All the Jed Walker books written to date will be released this year. They were tied up for awhile with my previous publishers who had first right of refusal. They dragged their feet and held things up for a couple of years. Now we have the rights back. Although it is the fifth book in the series, Americans will be able to read them in order.I am working on the sixth book currently.” Set in 2005, after completing his rigorous training with the CIA’s Special Activities Division in Virginia, Walker’s assigned mission is to exchange code phrases with a male contact. But just as the meeting is to occur, a British intelligence agent, Steph Mensch warns him of a set-up. After neutralizing the threat, he and Steph join forces to find a secret weapon that the Russians are looking to buy for hundreds of millions of dollars from a Blackwater-like private security firm. They must go off mission, operating in New Orleans, instead of overseas. Besides all the bad guys to contend with they must also deal with the hurricane that is barreling down. Interestingly, Steph is introduced in the prequel, but does not appear in the other four books. “I will definitely have her back in another book. I think she is intelligent, funny, and very persuasive. I based her on an actress in the British series, Luther. She has red hair and this is how I picture Steph. The other person I based her on is Stella Rimington, the first female director of MI5, the British FBI who is also a thriller writer. She worked her way up as an officer. I used my friend Stella as a model for Steph’s career. The book out in 2019 takes place about ten years from when this one took place. I am thinking of having Steph and Jed team up again if not this book, maybe the next one. It might be interesting to have them back together since the last of the five books already written, Dark Heart, has Jed back with his wife Eve, a family man living on a Texas ranch with a baby on the way.” The hurricane plays a strong role because it made such an impression on Phelan. “I have family in the US where we have visited since 1980. I remember when we had a family trip in 1989 across the US. We were chased by Hurricane Hugo. I have vivid memories of how we drove in the car and couldn’t see out of the windshield, even with the wipers on at full whack. As we drove, we saw how the rivers swelled over.” An intense story where the action never stops. Readers are able to get a good grip on what makes Jed Walker tick by reading all five books in order. Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. Shattered Mirrorby Iris Johansen is a paranormal thriller with a tease of romance. What makes this book stand out is that the good guys/gals are actually good and the bad guys are pure evil, without any grey area. Eve Duncan, a forensic sculptor, has the job of reconstructing skulls for recognition. At her Georgia home, left in Joe, her husband’s car, is a package with a skull burnt beyond recognition. Also, inside are two mirrors, one intact and one shattered. It is threat sent to Eve that her family is currently intact, but will be shattered as this killer goes after them one by one. This villain has set up a complex plan to get revenge by first going to New York’s Carnegie Tech where Eve’s ward, 18-year-old violin prodigy Cara Delaney, and her roommate, former child actress Darcy Nichols, have residence. After Cara is attacked in their room Jock Gavin comes to her rescue. He is someone designated to be Cara’s protector, but also became her best-friend. With danger looming, Cara and Darcy agree to visit with Eve, Jo, and Michael their six-year-old son. After their arrival, it becomes apparent there is more than just a casual resemblance between Darcy and the skull, which turns out to be Darcy’s twin sister, Sylvie. Eve and her team must work quickly to discover who is behind that murder and threats against her family before the killer destroys all she holds dear. She had the profession as a forensic sculptor because “I think it is honorable what she does. Most of the time the work is done when a person cannot be identified. After the restoration, it is used to circulate a picture for the public to possibly recognize who was that person. Another important aspect is the ability to give closure. Their loved one can have a sense of who they were before the horrific act was committed. I think Cara’s roommate Darcy went through that process with her twin sister Sylvie.” The paranormal plays a significant role in this novel. There are many characters who can communicate telepathically with each other or those who have died. Eve is able to connect with two of her birth children, Bonnie who lost her life, and Michael who is the joy of Eve’s life. They can communicate their thoughts without any sensory perception. The twins, Darcy and Sylvie were also able to do this before Sylvie’s death, and it appears they can do it in some form after her death. Being fascinated with the paranormal the author feels “it reaches beyond the scope of what we know and what we dream of or can hope for. But my paranormal is never a horror story like what Stephen King writes. The family is trying to keep their young son Michael just a kid, but it is getting harder and harder because Michael is Michael. I do like to keep his talents a surprise, both for me and my readers because it’s more fun that way. Because he is different it presents a whole new world.” As in all Johansen books family plays an important role. Eve and Joe have unconditional love for those children conceived at birth and those who became a part of the family formed by love not blood relations. Johansen commented, “Most of my books involve family because I really believe in family. Eve and those around her circle the wagons when one is threatened. Joe Quinn is now a detective with the Atlanta Police Department. I made him a former SEAL because they are tough, smart, and have incredible endurance with a complicated lifestyle, especially after he becomes involved with Eve. It is a very cold world out there but they all realize as a family they can get through anything. In my family, we are making an effort to be like the one in the TV show Blue Bloods. At least once a week we get together and make sure we are not all scattered to the four winds. It is important that we stay together.” This story is highly suspenseful with interesting, witty, and intelligent characters. The killer is a psychopath who does not worry about collateral damage or the gruesome ways he goes about murdering people. Readers will be on edge as they take a journey with Eve and family to find to the killer before he catches them. Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. Dead Girl Runningby Christina Dodd is a sprint read, a fast-paced page-turner. Those who liked her Virtue Fallsnovels will love this first book of a new series. It does not have the paranormal element or much romance, but the mystery is action-packed. The novella is an introduction to the book, explaining Kellen’s time in Afghanistan, how she sustained the injury for a medical discharge, and how she recovered. In addition, the novella storyline introduces readers to the Monument Men that searched for artifacts taken by the Nazis. Kellen works with General Lawrence Slater in trying to find some famous paintings hidden in a German cave. This leads into the book plot and explains some of Kellen’s backstory. Dodd introduced this special organization in the short-story, but it plays a significant role in the book. “I wrote about this because what they did was fascinating. It was an organization that was actually part of the Army during WWII. They were going around trying to save European art. I believe they were de-commissioned in 1946. I just brought them back through the character Nils Brooks. The terrorists are really looting and selling artifacts on the black market to fund their causes. Maybe the government will get an idea from this story.” In the novel, there are two mysteries the main character, Kellen, is trying to solve: what happened during an earlier year of her life, after she was shot in the head, losing her memory for that period of time, and in current time, trying to discover who killed a woman found buried without her hands. Hired as an assistant manager of a remote vacation resort, Yearning Sands, she uses her former military skills to find the culprits. The intenseness of the backstory is very well developed through Kellen’s nightmares and flashbacks. This book definitely gives a shout out to veterans. It shows how Cecilia Lykke a helpless and afraid abused wife uses her cousin’s name, Kellen Adams, to join the Army, becoming a tough and skilled military officer. Readers will understand through Cecilia’s eyes how she became a victim, frozen and unable to escape her predicament until her husband dies in a fire. Searching for family and a home Cecilia, now Kellen, finds it with her comrade in arms. Never forgetting this new family, after accepting the position at the resort, she hires those she served with knowing they are capable, resourceful, and able to use the skills learnt. The Washington setting becomes a character as the darkness spreads over the resort during the month of January. Located at the edges of the Pacific coast, it can be attractive in fair weather, but dangerous during the winter months with cold, windblown, and stormy foggy days/nights. It adds to the atmosphere of the story creating a dark and scary feeling. It appears that coastal towns are fair game for this author. “: I want to get to a point where I own the Washington coast and every little town is mine with murders going on all the time. There are a lot of eccentric people who live here so I have a lot to go on. I wanted to make them tourist towns because it will be plausible for all these murders with people constantly wandering in and out. What makes it more suspenseful is that everything here is affected by the weather, with extreme change from light to dark, during the winter months with cold, windblown, and stormy foggy days/nights. The weather is not an, ‘in passing conversation piece,’ but is actually an issue. The geography also plays into the plot with the Pacific Ocean, the mountains, and the desert. I have lived in many states including Texas, California, and Idaho. For me, this is the most expressive state.” This “who done it” has a list that can go on forever. Kellen is unsure whom to trust. This includes Nils Brooks who impersonates a mild-mannered author with black rimmed glasses that turns out to be a well-toned combat ready government official working for the MFAA, a revised agency that searches for smugglers who want to sell artifacts to fund terrorist organizations. This appears to be a shout out to Superman considering it is the 80thAnniversary where he was first introduced in an action comic book. Smugglers, murder, and loss of memory are intertwined to make this a gripping story. With plenty of intriguing characters and twists and turns, including a major surprise twist at the book’s ending, readers will be left craving for more. Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2018 at BlackFive
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The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. With his latest novel author Alex Grecian is moving in a new direction with a new series, a new era, and a new setting, Kansas. Another book that took place in that state, Wizard of Ozhas a famous line “Lions, Tigers, and Bears. Oh My.” Replace that with The Saint of Wolves and Butchers and readers havethe title of this new book. This intriguing story involves Travis, a man who chases down evil-doers with help from his trusting companion, a dog named Bear, and a Kansas State Trooper, Skottie who join forces to track down a Nazi in hiding. Grecian wanted to write more of a modern-day contemporary story than his past series, set in Victorian England. “While driving through Western Kansas to visit my wife’s family I saw a lot of ranch/farm country. Regardless of where I am I look for angles I can use to write a story. I found out that German POWs captured in Africa were sent to Kansas. After the war, most of these people were allowed to become farmers and stayed here as authorities turned a blind eye. It occurred to me this would be a great place to hide if I ever committed a crime. Since Travis and company will hunt for evil-doers, for the next book I would love to have Skottie, Bear, and Travis searching for the bad guy behind the funding of the Nazi in this book who runs a human trafficking ring. I think I will set it in Alaska.” The plot begins in 1951 when wanted war criminal Rudolph Bormann succeeds in making his way from South America to rural Kansas, where he begins a new life as Rudy Goodman. In the present, Travis Roan, the head of a family foundation devoted to bringing war criminals to justice, comes to Kansas after a report that the German was recognized by Ruth Elder, a concentration camp guard. Aided by his canine companion, Bear, a massive dog, and another ally, Kansas Highway Patrol trooper Skottie Foster, the search continues for this horrific figure who had performed medical research on unwilling victims. To make matters worse, Goodman decides to become a Church Pastor for a Nazi-type cult where he continues his cruel experimentation. All the characters are either very likeable or very unlikable. The character that stole all the scenes was Bear, a Tibetan mastiff who understands Esperanto and became mute after poachers cut off his vocal cords. He is brave, smart, and loyal, where everyone except the antagonists have complete trust. Surprisingly, Elder, was written as sympathetic considering she was forced into becoming a guard by the Nazi regime, after refusing to have sex with German military officers. The main character, Travis is calm, intellectual, unfailingly polite, and very moralistic. Because Grecian wants this to be a series he plans on developing each character’s backstory as the books progress. “Travis keeps to himself so we do not know where he has been in the world and where he has come from. He is mysterious and I purposely did not say if he is Jewish. I do hint at the terrible tragedy he has gone through. As time goes on readers will find out more about him.” An interesting aspect is that the Nazi was hit by lightning, not once, but twice, while in Kansas, and lived to talk about it. After being struck people have their bodies affected in unexpected ways, such as a person’s hair and toenails will not grow back, and they can have hearing loss. Goodman used it to claim he could heal people, because it gave him energy and insight. This for some could be the fantasy part of the book. Hopefully readers also understand that guns are tools. Grecian explained, “This is why I put in the book quote, ‘These chunks of metal that were largely useless without a hand to point them.’ The evil comes from the person who uses it to their advantage. It is the person that needs to be blamed.” Readers will yearn for the next book to see how Grecian flushes out the characters’ backstory, especially Travis Roan, whose mysteriousness is intriguing. Hopefully, this does become a series, because of the unique characters and storyline. Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2018 at BlackFive