Friday, June 28, 2019

June's Book Reviews

For your possible reading pleasure:

  • A thriller based primarily on emotional drama (I’ll Never Tell);
  • A blend of mystery/sci-fi/pulp noir (Man on the Stair); and
  • An action-packed thriller (The Scorpion: Metamorphosis of Smoke).

Hope you find something for your library,

I’ll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie

Emotional Drama Built on Exposing a Web of Lies and Misperceptions

I’ll Never Tell finds the five MacAllister siblings (Margaux, Ryan, Mary, Kate, and Liddie) and a groundskeeper (Sean Booth) trying to solve a 20-year-old, cold case – the bludgeoning of Amanda Holmes on the grounds of the family’s camp, Camp Macaw.  Why?  Because their father’s will stipulated that until they unravel the mystery of what happened to Amanda, they can’t settle the estate.  That sentence alone should tell you one of the concerns I have about this book – the plot is contrived.  What kind of man would saddle his five children with solving a case that the police couldn’t?  What kind of man would task his children with something he never did when he was alive?  Of course, every author gets one gimme and this could be it, except the pattern repeats quite often.  For example, in a backstory, Ryan takes the blame for “killing” a young woman when, in fact, it was an accident.  There is no blame to be taken, no one to protect in an accident, and so, the whole scene ends up feeling convenient – a way for the author to increase drama and little more.  For the complete review, see this link to Amazon: 

Man on the Stair by Stacy Bender

Quirky Supporting Characters in an Entertaining Mystery/Sci-Fi/Pulp Noir Blend

Man on the Stair is part mystery and part sci-fi.  What first appears a simple traffic accident turns out to be part of a murder spree by a serial killer, producing the mystery element of the story.  Who is he/she?  It is not, however, a whodunit with multiple, possible suspects or several red herrings.  Rather, it is more of a slow reveal through the investigative efforts of our main characters – Adam, ex-police officer and now, ghost to the digital world; Lila, a driven and highly capable police detective; and Michal, a high schooler with considerable computer skills.  The sci-fi element comes in through the near-future setting.  Self-driving cars have been perfected and some jobs have been automated with holographic figures, for example.  And apparently, automation is highly interconnected, as something like facial recognition identifies Adam on a phone camera and erases him even before the video can be replayed.  That’s a lot more interconnected than your phone ‘talking’ to your thermostat.For the complete review, see this link to Amazon:

The Scorpion: Metamorphosis of Smoke by John A. Autero

An Action-Heavy Techno-Thriller from the World of Government Coverups

When a sadistic government agent from a top-secret group within the National Security Agency gets to define who’s a threat to the nation and who’s not, you have to expect a fair amount of bloodshed.  And that’s what you get with The Scorpion: Metamorphosis of Smoke.  Stephen Harris, Senior Director of the NSA is our villain, a man who never found a problem he couldn’t fix with some combination of torture and assassination.  Opposing him are two characters from the first book in the series:  Jack Arthur, retired NSA operative, and Bruce Herdino, his successor in exposing government coverups.  Joining those two is a new character, Agent Monica Deverow.  As you’ll find, she can take care of herself … and then some.  For the complete review, see this link to Amazon:

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