Sunday, October 21, 2012
Sunday, April 08, 2012
THE DESCENT INTO HELL IS NOT ALWAYS VERTICAL…
Sam Hudson, a reputable San Diego attorney, learns this when the authorities wrongfully convict him of the brutal rape and murder of his wife and daughter, and sends him to death row. There he awaits execution by lethal injection.
If he survives that long.
In prison, Sam fights for his life while his attorney works frantically on his appeal. It is then that he embraces the faith of his departed wife and begins to manifest supernatural abilities. Abilities which help him save lives– his own, those of his unlikely allies–and uncover the true killer’s identity, unlocking the door to his exoneration.
Now a free man, Sam’s newfound faith confronts him with the most insurmountable challenge yet. A challenge beyond vengeance, beyond rage, beyond anything Sam believes himself capable of: to forgive the very man who murdered his family, according to his faith. But this endeavor reveals darker secrets than either Sam or the killer could ever have imagined. Secrets that hurtle them into a fateful collision course.
Friday, April 06, 2012
About The Book
Charlie: A Love Story tells of the beautiful love between Charlie, a Golden Retriever, and the author, Barbara Lampert. It takes place in Malibu, California. When Charlie turned eleven years old and started having some health problems, a journal Barbara was keeping about her garden quickly became mostly about Charlie. Charlie: A Love Story is an intimate look at an incredible connection between a canine and a human. And as a psychotherapist who specializes in relationships, Barbara brings that sensibility and understanding to Charlie’s story as well. Charlie was Barbara’s loyal confidante and best friend. He was indomitable, had a zest for life and an uncanny emotional intelligence. Charlie: A Love Story is about devotion, joy, loss, and renewal, about never giving up or giving in. But mostly it’s about an extraordinary dog and an extraordinary relationship.
About The Author
Barbara Lampert is a Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in relationships. She’s been in private practice in Brentwood, California for over twenty years. She considers her work a calling and loves what she does. She has a doctorate in medical sociology and two master’s degrees – one in psychology and one in sociology. Barbara has adored dogs her whole life. They’re her passion! She notes that for a lot of people, their dogs are their best friends. She loves helping people know that’s ok – that a soul-satisfying relationship may be found with any being and needs to be treasured. Besides her love of dogs, Barbara is an avid gardener and finds herself gardening in much of her spare time. She sees her garden as a work of art. She loves being in nature – the miracle of growth, the ever-changing landscape, its beauty. Today Barbara lives happily in Malibu, California with her husband David (married twenty-eight years!) and their six-year-old Golden Retriever, Harry. Barbara hopes that Charlie: A Love Story will be a tribute not only to a magnificent dog but to all dogs everywhere. You can visit her website at www.charliealovestory.com.
The story of Charlie is a sentimental journey, told from the twilight of his life. Charlie is a Golden Retriever, one of stoic character and full of life. The author, Charlie’s owner, Barbara Lampart, narrates the story of the last few years of Charlie’s life, with all the trials that they had to overcome, but how her love for Charlie was an overriding constant.
It is easy to see how close the bond is between Charlie and Barbara, and I think anyone who has ever loved any animal will be able to relate to the words on the pages.
The backdrop for the story is the authors own garden, indeed the publicity information that came with my review copy, mentioned that the book started life as a garden journal; and it is in this setting where we are introduced to Charlie quite late in his life. As the book progresses we are treated to glances of a younger Charlie, including how the author came to become his owner.
I said that this book is a sentimental journey, and it is, the overriding sentiment is the love that the author has for Charlie, and her other animals. It is clear that Charlie has carved a very special place in the authors’ heart, and it is easy to see why such a dog would do that. Charlie’s character brings the book to life, through well written gentle prose which makes the book a pleasure to read.
For a dog that obviously led a very full life, this short book, is but one snapshot in the life of Charlie, it is not hard to imagine however the adventures that the author and Charlie had together earlier in his life. It is Charlie’s strength of constitution and character that really bring home how marvellous a dog Charlie was, and how he was prepared to share that with everyone he met, and now, through the pages of this book, with anyone who reads its words.
Sunday, April 01, 2012
About the Author
An avid reader since the age of three, Jeremy Burns was devouring novels by the time other children his age were still learning their ABCs. Blessed (and, at times, cursed) with a decidedly active imagination and an insatiable curiosity for nearly everything, Jeremy made learning and storytelling two of his chief passions. After earning his degree in History from Florida State University, Jeremy accepted a position teaching literature, creative writing, political science, and philosophy at an international school in Dubai. Like the characters in his books, Jeremy is an intrepid explorer whose own adventures have taken him from Mayan ruins in the Yucatan to the pyramids of Egypt, from medieval castles across Europe to the jungles of Bangladesh, and beyond. To date, Jeremy has travelled to more than twenty countries across four continents, seeking adventure, discovery, and ideas for future novels. When not exploring a new corner of the globe, Jeremy lives in Florida, where he is working on his next thrilling novel.
Graduate students Jonathan and Michael Rickner, sons of eminent archaeologist Sir William Rickner, are no strangers to historical secrets and archaeological adventures. But when Michael is discovered dead in his Washington, D.C. apartment, Jon refuses to believe the official ruling of suicide. Digging deeper into his brother’s work, he discovers evidence that Michael was murdered to keep his dissertation research buried. Joined by Michael’s fiancée Mara Ellison, Jon travels to New York where he uncovers the threads of a deadly Depression-era conspiracy – one entangling the Hoover Administration, the Rockefellers, and the rise of Nazi Germany – and the elite cadre of assassins that still guard its unspeakable secret. Finding themselves in the crosshairs of the same men who killed Michael, Jon and Mara must navigate a complex web of historical cover-ups and modern-day subterfuge, outwitting and outrunning their all-powerful pursuers as they race through a labyrinthine treasure hunt through the monuments and museums of Manhattan to discover the last secret of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., before their enemies can bury the truth – and them – forever.
This is a great conspiracy thriller which mixes accurate historical facts with just enough fictional make-believe to spin a very strong tale. The action takes place both in Washington and New York, with both cities being accurately portrayed, adding to the strength of the story.
The historical elements are very well done, without being overplayed or making the story drag. There’s just enough of a taste of history to make the whole story believable. The fictional side also seemed plausible, although I had problems believing that the conspiracy, really was something that required being covered up to such an extent. Even when it came out it didn’t cause that big a stir, ergo why the need for the level of cover-up?
There were a couple of continuity problems that also detracted from the story e.g. cell phones that one minute don’t have voicemail, and yet the next minute do; which was a shame.
The characters were believable and strong, they seemed human enough, and had strengths and flaws which added to the story. It was easy to see why they were doing what they were doing, particularly Jonathan and Mara.
This would make a good holiday or travelling read, I could see myself sitting on a beach somewhere with a copy of this book.
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars – I liked it.
Friday, March 30, 2012
Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Mark Gilleo to my blog. Love Thy Neighbour starts with an interesting author note concerning a true event, which is the inspiration for the book. So I just had to ask Mark about inspiration:
You outlined some events in the opening authors note for your book, that doubtless gave you some inspiration for the words that followed. Are there other events that have similarly inspired you to sit at the keyboard, and if so can you share something of them with us?
The toughest question I get about writing is in regard to where the inspiration comes from. I guess there are two answers to the question. For me, the overall idea, or inspiration, comes from real life. In the case of Love Thy Neighbor, the inspiration is pretty clear. But within the novel and the main storyline are a hundred little stories. These little stories – the locations, people, events – are served up by the subconscious mind. I don’t know how it works for others, but in my case the subconscious mind serves up the details and my job is mostly to put them to paper. There are occasions where the conscious mind interjects, and the conscious mind spends some of its time researching whatever the subconscious mind served up, but most of the time writing is a form of autopilot. Unfortunately, the largest drawback to the subconscious mind is that it doesn’t necessarily serve the pieces of the novel to me in the correct order. I have yet to start a novel with chapter one and have it remain the first chapter by the time I’m done writing. Equally annoying is that the subconscious mind takes vacation when it comes time to edit. Editing is a lot of work and apparently the subconscious mind would prefer not to get involved.
With Love Thy Neighbor, to the extent that it is unlike anything I’m likely to write again, there were a few other real-life parallels. When I sat down to start the novel, the idea in my head was straightforward: an average women thinks terrorists have arrived on the street where she lives. Simple enough. The first snag, which I hit coming out of the blocks, was the difference in the reaction such a claim would receive in the pre-9/11 world versus the post-9/11 world. My mother’s story was pre-9/11. The novel is written post-9/11. The reaction from authorities to a call from a woman claiming knowledge of terrorist activities would -- I think, hope, pray-- result in some sort of reaction today. In the pre-9/11 world, well, at least a few people know what didn’t happen.
To get over the hurdle created by the difference in pre- & post-9/11, I changed the dynamic a little and gave the woman in the story some diminished mental capacity. It seemed like the easiest way, in the post-9/11 world, to have a woman report terrorist activity and have that report discredited. (My mother, thankfully, is still in possession of her mental faculties, though three sons probably push her limit at times.)
There are other parts of the story that are drawn from real-life events as well. My stepfather is indeed a machinist and a model airplane enthusiast, so I tried to convey some of that knowledge in the book. The USPS has a cave in the Midwest were they store stamps (as reported by Federal News Radio in August 2010). I used that idea to create the cave for ICE that is in Love Thy Neighbor. I grew up in the DC area, so both this book and my next novel, Sweat, cover a lot of local details, which can be used for inspiration. My grandfather is ninety and he is a walking tour guide. We can drive through DC and he can look at a building and tell you that it used to be a school, and before that it was a hospital and before that it was a brothel.
- ISBN-10: 1611880343
- ISBN-13: 978-1611880342
Fast, acerbic, wise and endlessly exciting, LOVE THY NEIGHBOR marks the unforgettable debut of a startling new voice in suspense fiction.
In late 1999 a woman from Vienna, Virginia, a suburb ten miles from the White House as the crow flies, called the CIA. The woman, a fifty-something mother of three, phoned to report what she referred to as potential terrorists living across the street from her middle-class home. She went on to explain what she had been seeing in her otherwise quiet neighborhood: Strange men of seemingly Middle-Eastern descent using their cell phones in the yard. Meetings in the middle of the night with bumper-to-bumper curbside parking, expensive cars rubbing ends with vans and common Japanese imports. A constant flow of young men, some who seemed to stay for long periods of time without introducing themselves to anyone in the neighborhood. The construction of a six-foot wooden fence to hide the backyard from the street only made the property more suspicious. Upon hearing a layperson’s description of suspicious behavior, the CIA promptly dismissed the woman and her phone call. (Ironically, the woman lived less than a quarter of a mile from a CIA installation, though it was not CIA headquarters as was later reported.) In the days and weeks following 9/11, the intelligence community in the U.S. began to learn the identities of the nineteen hijackers who had flown the planes into the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. In the process of their investigation they discovered that two of the hijackers, one on each of the planes that hit the World Trade Towers, had listed a particular house in Vienna, Virginia as a place of residence. The FBI and various other agencies swooped in on the unassuming neighborhood and began knocking on doors. When they reached the house of a certain mother of three, she stopped them dead in their tracks. She was purported to have said, “I called the CIA two years ago to report that terrorists were living across the street and no one did anything.” The CIA claimed to have no record of a phone call. The news networks set up cameras and began broadcasting from the residential street. ABC, NBC, FOX. The FBI followed up with further inquiries. The woman’s story was later bounced around the various post 9/11 committees and intelligence hearings on Capitol Hill. (Incidentally, after 9/11, the CIA closed its multi-story facility in the neighborhood where the terrorist reportedly lived. In 2006 the empty building was finally torn down and, as of early 2011, was being replaced with another office building). There has been much speculation about what the government should have or could have known prior to 9/11. The answer is not simple. There have been anecdotal stories of people in Florida and elsewhere who claimed to have reported similar “terrorist” type activities by suspicious people prior to 9/11. None of these stories have been proven. What we do know is that with the exception of the flight school instructor in Minnesota who questioned the motive of a student who was interested in flying an aircraft without learning how to land, and an unheeded warning from actor James Woods who was on a plane from Boston with several of the purported terrorists while they were doing a trial run, the woman from Vienna, Virginia was the country’s best chance to prevent 9/11. To date, there has been no verification of any other pre-9/11 warnings from the general public so far in advance of that fateful day in September. For me, there is no doubt as to the validity of the claims of the woman in Vienna. She lived in the house where I grew up. She is my mother. Mark Gilleo. October, 2011. Washington DC.
* * *
Ariana turned on the nightlight and closed the door to her daughter’s room. She walked down the carpeted hall towards the light stretching out from the plastic chandelier over the dining room table. Her husband’s chair was empty and she quietly called out his name. No response. As Ariana turned the corner to the kitchen and reached for the knob on the cabinet over the counter, eight hundred pages of advertising crashed into her rib cage, sucking the wind from her lungs. As his wife doubled over, Nazim raised the thick Yellow Book with both hands and hit her on her back, driving her body to the floor. “Don’t you ever disobey me in front of others again.” Ariana coughed. There was no blood. This time. She tried to speak but her lips only quivered. Her thick-framed glasses rested on the floor, out of reach. Her brain fought to make sense of what happened, what had set her husband off. It could have been anything. But every curse had its blessing, and for Ariana the blessing was the fact that Nazim didn’t hit her in front of Liana. A blessing that the child didn’t see her mother being punched. The reason was simple. Nazim was afraid of his daughter. Afraid of what she could say now that she could speak. The curse was that Ariana never knew when she had crossed the line. She never knew when the next blow was coming. She merely had to wait until they were alone to learn her fate for past indiscretions. Ariana gasped slowly for air. She didn’t cry. The pain she felt in her side wasn’t bad enough to give her husband the satisfaction. “When I say it is time to leave, it is time to leave. There is no room for negotiation in this marriage.” Ariana panted as her mind flashed back to the Christmas party. She immediately realized her faux pas. “I didn’t want to be rude to Maria. She spent days making dessert. She is old. Do we not respect our elders anymore?” Nazim pushed his wife onto the floor with his knee, a reaction Ariana fully expected. “You are my wife. This is about you and me. Our neighbor has nothing to do with it.” Nazim looked down at Ariana sprawled on the linoleum and spit on her with more mock than saliva. “Maria is my friend.” “Well, her son is coming home and she doesn’t need you.” Nazim dropped the yellow book on the counter with a thud and went to the basement. Ariana gathered herself, pushing her body onto all fours and then pulling herself up by the front of the oven. She looked at the Yellow Book and her blood boiled. It was like getting hit by a cinderblock with soft edges. When it hit flush, it left very little bruising. As her husband intended. For a man of slight build, Nazim could generate power when a beating was needed. Ariana took inventory of herself, one hand propping herself up on the counter. She had been beaten worse. Far worse. By other men before she met her husband. Her eyes moved beyond the Yellow Pages and settled on the knife set on the counter, the shiny German steel resting in its wooden block holder. She grabbed the fillet knife, caressed the blade with her eyes, and then pushed the thought from her mind. Her husband called her from the basement and she snapped out of her momentary daze. “Coming,” she answered, putting the knife back in its designated slot in the wood. She knew what was coming next. It was always the same. A physical assault followed by a sexual one. She reached up her skirt and removed her panties. There was no sense in having another pair ripped, even if robbing Nazim of the joy would cost her a punch or two. Christmas, the season of giving, she thought as she made her way down the stairs into the chilly basement.
I had a feeling about this book from the moment I read the author’s introduction, that I was going to like it.
Clark Hayden is a student returning home, to look after his mother while he finishes his studies, his mum’s mental state is deteriorating and his father passed away some time before. It’s not long before Clark is embroiled in an IRS investigation into his parent’s affairs, and suspicious goings on in the neighbourhood, with a terror cell getting ready to strike.
The story is very well structured and the narrative rattles along at a fair pace, each scene reveals a little more of what is going on, introducing new characters when appropriate, but leaving the reader in a perpetual state of suspense as to what will actually happen, and whether justice will prevail or will the terrorists see their Jihad.
The plotting is very clever, and the book conveys a sense of an author who has spent time thinking out exactly how the story will unfold and how each part will interact with what came before and what is coming next. I always had a sense that the author was leading me on the journey he wanted to take me on, but I never felt bored or wanted to skip on a few pages, or to the end.
A level of realism exists that really makes you think the author knows what he’s talking about or has done his research well. Each chapter is believable, and doesn’t leave you with any doubts as to whether what is being described would ever really happen that way.
The characters are simple in their brilliance, there is a clear picture of each one, and yet where there are those that have a hidden intention or motive, you would never be able to tell until this is revealed. When you think you have something worked out the author is able to surprise you with what he intends for the character, not what you thought was going to happen.
This is no all action thriller though, if you’re looking for a “Clancyesque” shoot-em-up spy story, you’re going to be disappointed, this tale is more cerebral than that, and it keeps you guessing until the end. I won’t spoil it, but I was never completely sure what was going to happen until I got there.
As an afterthought, I’ve read a few books now published by The Story Plant, and I can safely say that they really know how to pick their books, they’ve definitely got an eye. If you’re looking for a good book to read, then I recommend this one, once you’ve read it, check out others published by The Story Plant. You won’t go far wrong.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars - I Loved It!
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Another tale of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles, told at the pace of a galloping pinto.
The story starts with a much younger Cash Laramie, making the acquaintance of Esther Traynor, when he steps in to save her life from the menaces of the harsher side of the old west. Moving quickly forward it takes up the story when Marshall Laramie goes to the aid of Esther again, now married and known as Esther Tolliver she is living in the town of Bear Pines; and preparing to run for town Mayor. There are others however, who do not wish her well in her campaign, and whose malevolent intentions are to stop her succeeding.
When you ride with Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles, you ride with just men; men of honour, but men of violence. They are men of the law, but in the old west the law is hard and justice often swift. Their characters are well drawn and you have a sense of who each man is. One of my real concerns each time I pick up a new adventure in this series is that the latest author will not carry forward the spirit and feel of the series created by Edward A. Grainger, a.k.a. David Cranmer; but I have yet to have that fear realised and most certainly Nik Morton’s interpretation is as bold and strong as those who have gone before him.
It is the characters and the settings that make a Western, ultimately they are set in a time, that no person currently living has a reference point for, other than what they have read in other books or seen in movies. Therefore to bring to life something without tangible direct history is an art, and Nik Morton is a master artist in this instance. From the taste and smell of the old west to the feel of the era violence, this is another five-star adventure for Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles.
The premise is a simple one – fix the result of an election – but as to whom the interested party really is, and why they are pulling the strings that will only become clear as the story unfolds. The tale unfolds, as page by page, Cash Laramie is relentless in his pursuit of justice. We learn more about the Marshall, as this story reveals more of the man’s character, who he is and why he is driven to do the work of a lawman. The story also exposes just how the west was run, where principles are all very well, but where money also speaks, as do more baser urges.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars, I Loved It!
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
TITLE: Voices of the Dead
AUTHOR: Peter Leonard
PUBLISHED BY: The Story Plant
300 pages, Publication date 01/17/12
SYNOPSIS: The year is 1971. The place is Detroit. Harry Levin, a scrap metal dealer and Holocaust survivor, has just learned that his daughter was killed in a car accident. Traveling to Washington, DC to claim the body, he learns that the accident was caused by a German diplomat who was driving drunk. This is only the beginning of the horror for Harry, though, as he discovers that the diplomat will never face charges – he has already been released and granted immunity. Enraged and aggrieved, Harry discovers the identity of his daughter’s killer, follows him to Munich, and hunts him down. What Harry finds out about the diplomat and his plans will explode his life and the lives of everyone around him.
Brimming with action and dark humor, Voices of the Dead, firmly positions Peter Leonard as a writer ever suspense fan needs to read.
Hess found out the woman lived on P Street in Georgetown, not far from the consulate. He told the ambassador he was having dinner with potential clients, and wanted to drive himself. It was unorthodox, but plausible. He had been issued one of the embassy’s Mercedes sedans. He stopped at a bookstore and bought a map of the area, and located P Street. He drove there and saw the Goldman residence, a federal-style brick townhouse.
Hess went to a restaurant and had dinner and a couple drinks. At ten o’clock he drove back, parked around the corner on 32nd Street between two other vehicles so the license plate was not visible to anyone driving by. He walked to the Goldmans’, stood next to a tree in front of the three-storey townhouse. There were lights on the first floor. He walked to the front door and rang the buzzer. He could hear footsteps and voices inside. A light over the door went on. Hess stood in the open so whoever it was would see he was well dressed. The door opened, a man standing there, assumed he was Dr. Mitchell Goldman, dark hair, big nose, mid-forties, top of the shirt unbuttoned, exposing a gold chain and a five-pointed star. Hess smiled. “My car is on the fritz. May I use your phone to call a tow truck?”
Dr. Goldman stared at him with concern.
“I am staying just down the street at the consulate,” Hess said, smiling. Now the door opened and he stepped into the elegant foyer, chandelier overhead, marble floor.
“Mitch, who is it?” a woman said from a big open room to his right.
Dr. Goldman looked in her direction. “Guy’s having car trouble, wants to use the phone.”
“It’s ten o’clock at night.”
“He’ll just be a minute,” the dentist said.
Hess could see the woman sitting on a couch, watching television.
“The phone’s in here.” The dentist started to move.
Hess drew the Luger from the pocket of his suit jacket,and aimed it at Goldman.
The dentist put his hands up. “Whoa. Easy.”
“Who is in the house?”
“Just the two of us.”
“Are you expecting anyone?”
He shook his head.
“Tell her to come in here,” Hess said.
“What do you want? You want money?” He took his wallet out and handed it to him. “There’s eight hundred dollars in there.”
“Call her,” Hess said.
“Hon, come here, will you?”
“I’m watching ‘All in the Family.’ Can you wait till the commercial?”
Hess could hear people laughing on the television.
“Just for a minute,” the dentist said.
Hess saw her stand up and step around a low table in front of the couch, moving across the room, still looking back at the television. She turned her head as she entered the foyer and saw him holding the gun. Her hair looked darker in the dim light but he had only seen her briefly that day.
“Oh-my-god,” she said, hands going up to her face.
“We’re reasonable people,” the dentist said. “Tell us what you want.”
“The pleasure of your company,” Hess said. “Where is the cellar?”
Voices of the Dead is chilling, it takes elements of the holocaust and fictionalises them into a very believable tale that immerses you into it's pages from the first to the last.
The characters leap from the book and tie the reader into their lives, making you feel compassion and camaraderie with the hero, and hatred toward the villain, as well as some black humour that'll make you laugh.
Set in the 1970's the author cleverly ties that time period, back to the 1940's and then binds them together to take the reader on a journey across continents and emotions.
It handles a period of history that most struggle to understand let alone comprehend in a very sensitive way, not glamorising it nor belittling it but at the same time making sure the reader understands the scale, horror and enormity of what happened.
The prose are clean and neat, conveying enough to the reader without requiring the author to write long descriptive passages to explain the action and plot direction. The dialogue is similarly balanced and each character has their own unique voice, contributing their own perspectives as the story unfolds.
If I have to find a criticism of this book, it would have to be that it was over too soon, not because the book was short, but because I wanted to read more. To that end I will definitely be checking out more of Peter Leonard's novels over the months to come.
Peter Leonard is the son of Elmore Leonard, but don't make comparisons, the two authors are distinctly different and having now read books by both, I think this is now a case of a father having big shoes to fill rather than the son.
I highly recommend Voices of the Dead by Peter Leonard.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars - I Loved It!
About the author:
Peter Leonard’s debut novel, QUIVER, was published to international acclaim in 2008 (“A spectacular debut...you will be holding your breath until the final page.”– The New York Sun). It was followed by TRUST ME in 2009 (“TRUST ME is fast, sly and full of twists.” – Carl Hiaasen, New York Times bestselling author). The Story Plant will publish Leonard’s newest novel, ALL HE SAW WAS THE GIRL, in the spring of 2012.
AUTHOR SITES: Website http://peterleonardbooks.com/
THE STORY PLANT: Website www.thestoryplant.com
Review disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book, to review as part of the authors virtual book tour. I have received no other payments or endorsements for this review.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Sent from my iPad
Friday, February 24, 2012
I've been lucky enough to review "Voices of the Dead" by Peter Leonard, as part of his tour with Partners In Crime Tours.
Peter Leonard also kindly agreed to a short guest post as part of the tour. Now some of the readers here may not know that Peter Leonard is Elmore Leonard's son. Of course that raises some interesting questions about how his dad has influenced his writing, but I guess that's the predictable question, so I thought I'd asked something related but different.
I posed the question:
"Other than your Dad, which other writers do you admire, and who has influenced your own writing the most?"
So please welcome to my electronic scrapbook, Mr Peter Leonard. Here's what he had to say:
Hemingway and Steinbeck were big influences, Hemingway’s simple style that puts in the center of the action, and Steinbeck’s ability to paint a picture of a character with very little description. I was also influenced by George V. Higgins’ crime masterpiece, The Friends of Eddie Coyle. The characters are real and the dialogue is perfect.
I admire Jim Harrison. I remember reading Legends of the Fall, thinking the three novellas therein were among the best I’d ever read. I read Michael Connolly and think he’s as good as anyone writing crime fiction today. I had my James Lee Burke phase, loved the early Dave Robicheaux novels, especially Heavens Prisoners. I’m a big fan of Philip Roth and John Updike. I read a lot but can’t think of anyone who has made a big impression of late.
All the best,
You can find out more about Peter Leonard's writing, and some of his other books at his website.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Back To The Classics Challenge Category: Classic Mystery / Horror / Crime Fiction.
I read this as the Classic Mystery/Horror/Crime Fiction entry for the Back to the Classics Challenge. I've had a copy of this for sometime, and have never gotten around to reading it, so this was the perfect excuse.It's really interesting to see how writing has changed over time. At the Mountains of Madness contains many long winded descriptive passages that took a little getting used to. Once I gotten used to that, the book really to a hold of me. It's easy to see why this is considered a horror classic, the ever present malevolence takes hold of the reader and keeps you turning the pages. Not one to be read with the lights-off, particularly the parts that are in the catacombs! View all my reviews
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Saturday, February 11, 2012
A bloodthirsty lake monster menaces a small town in the Ozarks.
When the men find him, the boy’s legs look like they were run through a wood-chipper. He’s bleeding heavily and near death, but he still has strength to tell them of the monster that attacked him: a dark, massive creature that emerged from the bottom of the lake. The child dies before he can say more.
Sheriff Billy Wintone has seen too much superstition, drunkenness, and rage in this small Ozarks town to believe the delirious boy’s tale of a monster lurking under the lake’s dark waters. Like it or not, however, Wintone must scour the woods for the man or beast who killed the child before the start of fishing season. When another body is found chewed to pieces, the Sheriff begins to wonder what evil lies at the bottom of Big Water Lake.
Bonegrinder had me hooked from the opening pages.
Reminiscent of Peter Benchley's "Jaws", a small, one sheriff town goes from being very quiet to busy and popular and back to very quiet again, as a result of the malevolent monster that soon comes to be known as the "Bonegrinder". At first the curious draw of the monster brings people to the town, incentivised by the offer of a reward it becomes almost as dangerous just to be in town, as to be a victim of the Bonegrinder.
I loved the characters; they are alive and called from the pages. Sheriff Billy Wintone (the equivalent of Chief Brody), is a troubled but no nonsense lawman, I wanted to know more about him than came out of the book, but even so he was wholly believable and realistic. Being under the pressure of the Mayor, the towns-people and those who have other interests in the Bonegrinder, it was difficult not to be on his side. He and the other characters, along with the captivating town of Colver it's nearby lake and surrounds make the story a very complete tale.
Very real moments of suspense, tragedy and action move the adventure on from page to page. I wanted to know what was going to happen next, who would be the next victim of the Bonegrinder and who would survive. It was never clear whether or not they would all make it to the end, and this kept me reading late into the night.
There was a slightly distracting sub-plot, that didn't really fit. It was a nice idea, but detracted from the overall story, and I'd worked it out before it was revealed, (I read too many crime novels I guess).
Overall this was a very enjoyable and captivating tale, and I would recommend to anyone who wants something with a bit of suspense and some good characters.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars, I really liked it.
About the author:
John Lutz's works may be categorized as political suspense, private eye, urban suspense, humor, occult, crime caper, police procedural, espionage, historical, futuristic, amateur detective, thriller—virtually every mystery sub-genre. He is the author of more than forty novels and over two hundred short stories and articles. His novels and short fiction have been translated into almost every language and adapted for almost every medium.
He is a past president of both Mystery Writers of America and Private Eye Writers of America. Among his awards are the MWA Edgar, the PWA Shamus, the Trophée 813 for best mystery short story collection translated into the French language, the Eye Life Achievement Award, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society's Golden Derringer Award for Lifetime Achievement. He is the author of two private eye series, the Nudger series, set in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Carver series, set in Florida, as well as many non-series novels. His SWF Seeks Same was made into the hit movie Single White Female, starring Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh, and his novel The Ex was made into the HBO original movie of the same name, for which he co-authored the screenplay.
When Lutz isn't writing, he's reading, following baseball, dining out with friends, or going to movies or plays.
Lutz and his wife, Barbara, split their time between St. Louis, Missouri, and Sarasota, Florida. His latest book is the suspense novel Mister X.
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
PUBLISHED BY: The Story Plant
Publication date: 7th February 2012
SYNOPSIS: Nationally bestselling author James LePore has established a reputation as a writer whose vividly drawn characters and morally complex plots have kept readers up to all hours turning pages. His new novel promises more sleepless nights and more nonstop thrills.
Matt DeMarco is an accomplished Manhattan attorney with more than his share of emotional baggage. His marriage ended disastrously, his ex-wife has pulled their son away from him, and her remarriage to a hugely successful Arab businessman has created complications for Matt on multiple levels. However, his life shifts from troubled to imperiled when two cops – men he's known for a long time – come into his home and arrest his son as the prime suspect in the murder of the boy's girlfriend.
Suddenly, the enmity between Matt and his only child is no longer relevant. Matt must do everything he can to clear his son, who he fully believes is innocent. Doing so will require him to quit his job and make enemies of former friends – and it will throw him up against forces he barely knew existed and can only begin to comprehend how to battle.
GODS AND FATHERS is at once a powerful mystery and a provocative international thriller, all of it presented with LePore's signature fascinating characters placed in dire circumstances where every choice poses new and potentially fatal challenges.
“Why can’t you stay at your mother’s when they’re away?”
“I told you, Basil’s worried about security.”
Though this statement was challengeable on several levels, Matt let it pass. The marriage six years ago of Debra DeMarco, nee Rusillo, and Basil al-Hassan, a rich and handsome Syrian businessman, had marked the beginning of the end of Matt’s long and tortured fight for a place in his son’s heart. Armed with the ultimate weapon—-her new husband’s money—-Debra had made quick work of destroying the last vestiges of Matt’s hopes. A penthouse on Park Avenue, a beach house in Easthampton, a flat in Paris, a “cottage” in Bermuda, clothes and cars virtually on demand, Matt had no way of competing with all this, and no way of expressing his anger—-until tonight.
“What about Mina?” Matt asked.
“What about her?”
“Why aren’t you seeing her?”
“Yes, studying. You keep repeating what I say. She’s a student. Students study.”
This statement was delivered dismissively, not sarcastically. You’re stupid, Dad. I’m tired of you. Why am I bothering with you? are what Matt heard, and it occurred to him, with a clarity that shocked him after all these muddled and painful years of effort and rejection, effort and rejection, ad nauseum, that he could not hurt Michael, that his own son was indifferent to him, and this was a blow, and strangely a release.
“Well, your friends are assholes, and you are too, Michael. You’re an arrogant, shallow asshole. Where you came from, I don’t know. But not from me.”
“That could be. Maybe Mom had an affair–like you did--and I’m not your son. Do I care? No, I don’t. Can I go upstairs now? I’ll leave in the morning.”
In the kitchen, Matt poured himself another scotch. He took the pizza out of the refrigerator and sat down to eat it, surprised to find that he actually had an appetite. Until tonight, despite the bad cards he had drawn, he had never stopped trying to break through to his son. It’s over, he said to himself, over and done. He’s not your son. He’s Debra’s son, Basil’s son. You lost him a long time ago.
He finished the pizza and was wrapping the garbage to take out in the morning when the doorbell rang. Looking out the kitchen window he saw that it was snowing heavily. Those idiots, he thought, they’re probably stuck someplace. No choice but to let them in. But when he swung open the front door, it wasn’t Adnan and Ali, but his friends Jack McCann and Clarke Goode, homicide detectives who he had worked with for many years, standing facing him. He could see their unmarked car at the curb, and behind it, blocking his driveway, a Pound Ridge patrol car, its engine running and headlights on, two uniformed officers in the front seat. McCann, a florid Irishman whose blue eyes were usually lit by some inner secret joke, looked grim; and Goode, a gnarled black man who never failed to greet Matt with a big smile, was not smiling. Far from it.
“Come in. What’s up?” Matt said. Then, nodding toward the street where the patrol car sat: “What’s with the uniforms?”
The two detectives stepped into the foyer.
“Take your coats off,” Matt said. He could see they were dressed for work, sport jackets and ties on under their trench coats.
“Matt...,” McCann said.
“Talk, Jack,” Matt said. “Is somebody dead?”
“Is Michael home?” Goode asked. He had not taken off his coat, and neither had McCann.
“That’s his car out there,” Matt said. “You know that.”
“Where is he?”
Matt looked from McCann to Goode, then back to McCann; looked in the eyes of each, and did not like what he saw. “What about Michael?” he asked.
“We’re here to arrest him,” McCann replied.
“For what?” Drugs, Matt thought, good, let the kid get a taste of the pain he’s always inflicting on others. Him and his two Arab suppliers.
“For murder, Matt,” Goode said.
From the book's start the author paints a very cleverly confusing picture of who is on the side of good and bad. There is sufficient truth and sufficient doubt that the author doesn't reveal, exactly what happened or who did what, until much later in the story, making for a tale with many a twist and turn.
There's a murder that seems to suggest that all is not as it first appears, that the evidence of guilt may not be all that it seems, that there is more than meets the eye. That murder might be part of other crimes too; but don't expect to find the answers too soon, they form part of a very intricate, international plot.
This is done through a series of well written scenes and characters who on first glance are basic, but on more detailed exposure are very complex. This is no simple tale and the reader needs to keep up as the action switches between the different characters, revealing pieces of the puzzle, while no one person (except the reader), has all those pieces together. Even then the reader is kept in suspense, and needs to keep reading. The way the story hooks you in though, that is exactly what you want to do. The more pages I turned, the more I wanted to find out the truth, it became important to know what was true and what was a false lead and deception.
The way the characters are written they are complex, they appear basic at first, but for the most part it is clear what motivates them, there is also good use of current affairs to make them realistic and grounded, I'm not sure how this will stand up to the passage of time, but this is a very clever device.
All of the characters and the story build up to bring a fast paced ending where all will be revealed. So as to what happened? Who's really guilty of what? How does it all end? Well you'll have to read it for yourself, I'm afraid, no spoilers here!
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars - I Loved it!
Monday, February 06, 2012
Sunday, February 05, 2012
Thursday, February 02, 2012
This time last week, I uploaded the final version of my novella Killer Bytes to Amazon. By the following morning it was available for purchase.
I am pleased to say that it's been selling too. It's a little early to say whether or not I'm going to make my fortune (probably not I suspect, at least not quite just yet), but some people have bought copies.
As it's self-published, it's just me, and my twitter friends, facebook contacts etc who have been promoting the book for me. If you're one of them, then thank you, I appreciate your support.
To date it's also had two reviews on amazon, one four stars and one five stars! Being described as:
"Nifty Police Procedural With Sharply Drawn Characters"
"Fun and fast-paced read".
And now, the breaking news is I can expect a few more reviews too, as Killer Bytes and I are going on tour, across two continents! All of this will actually be happening without me having to leave the comfort of my keyboard, working with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.
PICT is one of the companies who I regularly review for, and they are very kindly now taking my book on a tour of the blogosphere.You can find more details of the tour here, and it's developing all the time, so worth checking back if you want to know the details of which stops will be giving away the limited edition versions.
In the meantime you can of course buy an electronic version of Killer Bytes via:
Smashwords (which has both Nook and Kindle versions available).
What a week!
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Saturday, January 14, 2012
I kicked off this challenge with one of the books that I was most unsure about, I thought I'd get at least one of the ones that I thought I would be least likely to enjoy out of the way first.
This one sits in the Classic Play category, and is a play that I have never seen performed or read before but one that I have heard many people talk about. It's a complicated tale between multiple characters set on a lakeside in Russia. As a straightforward read, it might be considered a bit dull, but I think seeing it performed would be something quite different. The dialogue is quite glorious, but as a play it lacks the scenery and intereaction between the characters that you would get were it say, a novel. However from the dialogue alone the complexities between the characters and their loves and losses kept me engaged.
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars, I liked it.