Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Review: Voices of the Dead by Peter Leonard


TITLE:  Voices of the Dead

AUTHOR:  Peter Leonard

PUBLISHED BY:  The Story Plant

ISBN-10: 1611880327

ISBN-13: 978-1611880328

GENRE:  Suspense

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?”

My Review:

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.




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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mr Blackbird

Just watching a blackbird take a drink and a bath in our garden pond. Judging from the colouration of his feathers and beak, he's probably one of last years young, so not quite fully adult.

His bathing ritual is very precise. First one wing splashes water across his back one way, then the other wing flicks the water in the opposite direction. A quick head bob under, then rinse and repeat.

Photo was the best I could get with the crappy camera on my iPad.


Sent from my iPad

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Guest Post From Peter Leonard, Author of Voices of the Dead


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:

Dear Alan,

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,

Peter Leonard

You can find out more about Peter Leonard's writing, and some of his other books at his website.



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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: At The Mountains of Madness by H P Lovecraft

Back To The Classics Challenge Category: Classic Mystery / Horror / Crime Fiction.

At the Mountains of Madness & Other Novels of Terror (Omnibus 1)

At the Mountains of Madness & Other Novels of Terror by H.P. Lovecraft

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


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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Book Review: The Way Out by Craig Childs

The Way Out: A True Story of Ruin and SurvivalThe Way Out: A True Story of Ruin and Survival by Craig Childs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wish I could write descriptive narrative text the way Craig Childs does. His use of language is inspiring, as is the use of flashbacks to tell the various parts of this story.

At times however the descriptive narrative style can overtake the story, and become just a little too much. Too much detail, too often and the story falters rather than flows. It's a bit of a harsh criticism for a book that I really enjoyed, but I suspect that it might put many readers off.

View all my reviews

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Book Review: Bonegrinder by John Lutz

Book Synopsis:


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.

My Review:

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.

Review Disclaimer: The nice people at Open Road Media, provided me with a free e-galley in return for an honest review. I have received no other incentive for this post.



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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Book Review: Gods And Fathers By James LePore


PUBLISHED BY:  The Story Plant

Publication date: 7th February 2012

300 pages

ISBN-10: 1611880297

ISBN-13: 978-1611880298

GENRE:  Suspense

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.


Book Excerpt:

“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?”

“She’s studying.”


“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?”

“He’s upstairs.”

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.

My Review:

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!

About the author:

James LePore is an attorney who has practiced law for more than two decades, and an accomplished photographer. He is the author of three previous novels, A WORLD I NEVER MADE, BLOOD OF MY BROTHER, and SONS AND PRINCES, as well as the story collection, ANYONE CAN DIE. He lives in Westchester County, NY with his wife, artist Karen Chandler.



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Thursday, February 02, 2012

Killer Bytes (a novella of intrigue) - One Week In

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.

I'm very excited by this opportunity, and as part of the tour will be giving away some PICT limited edition copies of Killer Bytes. 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!

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