Saturday, October 28, 2017

Book Review: Death's Privilege (A Sarah Gladstone Thriller Book 2) by Darryl Donaghue

Interesting Theme, Solid Plot with an Ending that Fizzles a Bit

When British police detective trainee Sarah Gladstone is assigned to an apparent suicide, it appears a simple case, a chance to check off another training requirement.  But when a connection to another suicide is found, and both become murders, Sarah takes the lead on a case that will change her life.

There’s a lot to like in Death’s Privilege, not the least of which is character development.  Sarah Gladstone comes across as a real person – strong, caring, determined, although flawed.  Her personality is one side of a generational gap with the old-hands who mentor her (and another trainee) on the other.  While she is caring and sees people as salvageable, they represent more of a ‘keep your distance to keep your sanity’ approach to crime fighting.  Sarah resists that view and where she falls after the events of this book is a central theme, key to how you may feel about the ending.

The basic plot – two unconnected, apparent suicides that become murders – was also solid.  I was sold after reading the synopsis, and the book continues the suspense, especially in the early parts.  The rigors of Sarah’s job are also well described.  The long hours, the sacrifices, even the minor inconveniences of aging accommodations and limited budgets are well depicted.

But while the way Sarah was characterized was a strength, the process of developing that persona wasn’t.  The sections where Sarah lamented her sacrifices and worried about their effect on her family and herself were too drawn out.  All the angst pulled the story down.  Additionally, some facets of her personality seemed out of place, as if they had been added merely to increase complexity or suspense.  A minor example, to avoid any spoiler, was her claiming to remember nothing during an exam when by all other accounts, she was flying through the program.  But the primary downside was the ending.  It was too rushed and too convenient.  Most of the late reveals involved relationships, aliases, and basic facts about people that the police should have known much earlier.  And both the way the details of the crime were exposed in the final pages and the nature of culprit’s motivations were somewhat disappointing.

Overall, the ending leaves something to be desired, but as a police procedural across generational boundaries with characters who feel real, Death’s Privilege is tough to beat.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Four Two-Sentence Horror Stories Just for Writers

In honor of Goodreads latest Ask the Author Question – Can you tell us a two-sentence horror story – I give you four of them, just for writers.  Please add your favorite in the comments.

“I’ve never written a review before, but this last book was so spectacular that I went to all the popular sites – Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, Kobo,” said the reader.  “It completely deserves the one-star rating I gave it.”

‘Thanks for your submission,’ read the email from the publisher.  ‘If you haven’t heard from us in 13 months, we’re not interested…or the backlog is even bigger than we expected.’

The police detective frowned at the mystery writer, saying, “I’m sure you’ve heard about the string of grisly murders in the area, each more gruesomely inventive than the last.  After looking at your online searches and the books you’ve gotten from the library, you need to come with us.”

“The sixth revision of your latest novel has great potential,” said the agent to writer.  “We just need to tweak the plot a bit, change the protagonist’s accent from western Australian to lower Bronx, put the sections we changed to ‘telling’ back to ‘showing,’ reverse the order of the two twists, change the setting from 1800s England to the 1980s in the US, which means the hero can go back to being a disgraced Navy seal with a multibillion-dollar, reality TV series, make the protagonist’s love interest left-handed, and for god’s sake, kill all the run-on sentences.”

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Current Thriller and Action-Adventure eBook Deals

Amazon Giveaway - In the Space of an Atom
Enter for a chance to win

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  Ends the earlier of Nov 8, 2017 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules

The Everett Exorcism by Lincoln Cole
Preorder, Genre:  Fantasy-Urban Fantasy, Horror, Thriller-Paranormal
99 cents until October 31

Scarlett by Elle Klass
Preorder, Genre:  Horror, Suspense-Thriller-Crime, Thriller-Paranormal
99 cents until November 19

Becoming Hero (Comics hero shoots his author!) by Jen Finelli
4.4 Stars, 5 reviews, Genre:  Action-Adventure, Fantasy-Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi
$1.99 until December 29

Check prices before buying

Book Review: The Fallen Child by David Thompson

I Didn’t See this Coming from the Blurb

While a book’s cover may catch my eye, it’s generally the author’s synopsis that drives whether I hit the buy button or not.  With The Fallen Child, I read a synopsis describing a Walter Mitty-type character, living in his dream world as much as in the real one.  The book delivered on that front, along with the humor that’s implied – who ever heard of a serious dream world.  But the synopsis also mentioned that Adam’s illusions encroached on his reality, sending him on a journey with implications for the future of humanity.  It sounded like the stuff of a taut psychological thriller.  On that front, the book never lived up to the promise.

What The Fallen Child provided was a look at a man, Adam Reynolds, moving from a pointless, aimless existence to someone with purpose, with happiness, and maybe with a better understanding of life…or perhaps just a more elaborate misunderstanding of it.  Adam was drifting through life, until his adventures with Evelyn changed him.  Sounds heart-warming, and to a degree, it is.  But the story intertwines life and dreams, and life that’s stranger than dreams, in ways that are both confusing and familiar.  While the source of the confusion is apparent, the familiarity stems from the fact that the story is basically a modernized, retelling of a Biblical tale.  There are some heavy hints in the first quarter of the book, and by the midpoint, Adam and Evelyn are discussing the parallels openly.  But even with these philosophical and religious roots, it was hard to find much to ponder in its pages.

Overall, The Fallen Child has its moments, particularly in the touches of humor and Adam’s metamorphosis, but you’ll need to wade through strange dreams, some stranger than truth reality, and even a few imaginary friends to find them.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Walking for Words – The Cotswolds

“Walking for Words” is my irregularly recurring post about hiking, which I include in a blog about writing because it’s the source of my inspiration.  (OK, I know, that’s thin, but it sounds better than saying I included it because I can.)  This time, the hike was in the Cotswolds, a rural area in South Central England.

As the Cotwolds is crisscrossed with public footpaths, as is much of the UK, the possible routes are many.  The one I took was a 50-mile loop, starting and ending in Moreton-in-Marsh.

The area features beautiful rolling hills dotted with picturesque towns and villages.

Homes constructed from the golden-yellow Cotswold stone.

And plenty of pubs where I put away a few too many of these.

The trip ended with a visit to a local university, so now I can say in all honesty, ‘I studied at Oxford.’  I studied the outside of some of their buildings while I sipped a coffee in one of the local restaurants…but that’s studying, right?

Happy writing (and hiking),


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Book Review: The Grave Man by David Archer

A Decent, Feel-Good Book, But Not My Style

The Grave Man is the first book in the Sam Prichard Thriller series, introducing us to Sam, a private investigator and former police detective, now medically retired due to an injury sustained on the job.  We also meet Indiana (Indie) Perkins, a computer hacker of extraordinary skill, who I suspect is a recurring character.  Her skills have as much or more to do with Sam’s success as a PI as he does.

I have to admit I’m not a big fan of the down-home, somewhat macho, and trite-heavy tone of the book.  For example, early in chapter 1, Sam says, “Excuse me, sir, I ain’t no politician!  I prefer to be honest and work for my livin!”  The book plays on social stereotypes and urban myths to a significant degree.  And what’s with all the exclamation points?  It seems like the characters are always shouting.  The investigative procedures Sam uses are a bit simplistic as well.  If he thinks he has the upper hand, he threatens the witness/suspect, who then gives up everything he knows.  If Sam doesn’t have superior abilities, he tells the witness/suspect the gravity of the situation, and he caves anyway.  Don’t look to this book for a good police procedural.

As characters, both Indie and Sam strain the limits of believability.  Indie, for example, is the beautiful, single mother, educated at MIT but unable to find any job except working the counter at Dairy Queen.  Really?  She’s also the perfect cook and housekeeper, game for anything even when it involves having a gun put to her head.  And it’s truly amazing how in a matter of minutes, hacking primarily Facebook and email accounts, she can discover information on crooks that have eluded law enforcement for years.

While it may sound like I hated the book, I didn’t.  As a somewhat simple, feel-good, change of pace, it wasn’t bad.  And if the homey, slightly macho, too good to be true tone is what you seek, look no further.  You’ll find The Grave Man a worthwhile read.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Current Thriller and Action-Adventure eBook Deals

milijun: What would alien interaction really be like? by Clayton Graham
4.5 Stars, 44 reviews, Genre:  Action-Adventure, Sci-Fi
99 cents until October 12, 2017

A Honeybun and Coffee: Romantic Suspense with a Taste of Mystery (Honeybun Heat Book 1) by Sam Cheever
4.3 Stars, 226 reviews, Genre:  Action-Adventure, Romance-Suspense, Suspense-Thriller-Crime
99 cents until November 1, 2017

Double Forte (LeGarde Mysteries Book 1) by Aaron Paul Lazar
4.6 Stars, 68 reviews, Genre:  General-Literary, Cozy Mystery, Christian-Wholesome, Action-Adventure, Suspense-Thriller-Crime
FREE until October 31, 2017

For the Birds (Tall Pines Mysteries Book 1) by Aaron Paul Lazar
4.4 Stars, 43 reviews, Genre:  Romance-Suspense, General-Literary, Cozy Mystery, Action-Adventure, Suspense-Thriller-Crime
99 cents until October 31, 2017