Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Book Review: Murder Creek by Jane Suen

Entertaining Mystery Novella with Something of a Paranormal Feel

Have you ever driven by some land feature with an unusual name—dead horse creek, lost miner’s canyon—and wondered what had happened there? The hero of Murder Creek, journalism student Eve Sawyer did when she drove over the bridge at Murder Creek. But for Eve, her reaction doesn’t stop with curiosity. Soon, she’s having nightmares about the gold miners brutally murdered on the creek’s banks in the 1800s. And sometimes, she isn’t even asleep—she’s just having coffee at her favorite diner. But while there is a bit of a supernatural feel to parts of the story, Eve’s investigation into the case of a girl gone missing from that location twenty years earlier taps more into her persistence and her ability to read people than the supernatural. In fact, all she learned about the girl from her visions was that she might not be dead. Why did she think that? Because the girl wasn’t among the dead men she saw wandering the banks of the creek.

If that sounds like an entertaining blend of amateur detective work and the paranormal, I’d agree. Eve tackles the mystery with the straightforward zeal of youth, opening many of her interviews with, “I need to know whatever you can tell me about her” or the like. And while I expected that to end in phone hang-ups and slammed doors in most cases, she got people talking. And slowly, she uncovers facts that even the horde of crime reporters failed to find twenty years earlier.

There were a few, minor stretches in plausibility that were not related to the supernatural. For example, in one case, Eve is checking twenty-year-old records after their owner said they kept them for seven. And she finds a pivotal clue, one that could easily have been destroyed any time in the last twenty years. Several of the emotional reactions seemed a bit strained as well. Take the reaction of a character that she accused of knowing the girl’s murderer:  “‘Oh no, no.’ He cried out, shoulders trembling. ‘Please don’t.’” For a man who has been hiding the truth for years, his total meltdown after a couple of questions from a student fifteen to twenty years his junior felt strained. Another quick developmental edit would have helped the story. But the primary limitation of the book is its lack of tension. Eve did receive one threatening phone call, but for most of the book, she’s taking rides with men to lonely locales, having lunch at their home, meeting them at night, and so on. Often, it sounded like she was on a date, not tracking a vile criminal. And while Eve’s ESP, or whatever she has, might have told her it was OK, it’s difficult to feel tension when the hero doesn’t show much.

Overall, Murder Creek is a fun, fast read with a plucky, persistent hero who may (or may not) have some connection to the paranormal. All it needs to be a great story is a bit more realistic tension.

See on Amazon:

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Science Fiction eBook Giveaway

Enter for your chance to win 14 Science Fiction ebooks!

Two grand prize winners will receive all fourteen ebooks. Fourteen other winners will receive one ebook, randomly selected.

Enter before this giveaway ends on August 3.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Book Review: Hit the Road Jack by Willow Rose

Constant Action Pits Detective against Killer … But You Pay a Heavy Price for the Drama

I won’t need a spoiler to illustrate the type of action in this book; the synopsis will do fine. “But, when his black Labrador suddenly runs upstairs and comes down with a finger in his mouth, Ben knows he's not making it to school today at all.” That murder comes in Chapter 3, after another killing in Chapters 1 and 2, one chapter written from the victim’s point of view, the other from the killer’s. If you’re getting the idea that author Willow Rose has packed a lot of violent action into Hit the Road Jack, I’d agree. Besides those two murders, there’s a date rape, a suicide, and several other gruesome murders by a serial killer known only as the Snakecharmer throughout most of the story.

At the opposite end of the wholesome to vile continuum, we have our hero, Detective Jack Ryder. He’s a surf-loving, single father of three, one of them a black, teenage girl adopted when his partner was killed. He’s handsome (of course). And because he’s an experienced detective from a more violent city, he becomes the go-to investigator for his homicide unit in a small, county sheriff’s department. This situation anchors the primary plotline of the book, one that crime thriller readers will readily recognize: the virtuous detective single-handedly pursues the despicable serial killer through a series of heinous crimes amid a budding romance.

The best of the genre places the hero in this detective vs. killer setting using clever twists of fate and provide some basis for the sex. Less well-written books ride roughshod over common sense and unfortunately, Hit the Road Jack falls uncomfortably close to the latter group. When a child is abducted, Ryder doesn’t send out an Amber Alert or instigate any type of city or state-wide notification. That would spoil the one-on-one theme. When the killing escalates and it’s clear there is a serial killer, no other city, state, or federal agencies get involved. When someone takes a shot at Ryder, he doesn’t make an officer-under-fire call. Nor does he call for support to locate or apprehend the shooter. Rather, when he stumbles on the gunman’s truck at a motel, he goes in with an unarmed civilian (his new romantic interest) as his only backup. And so on. We, as readers, are asked to suspend disbelief much too frequently for my liking.

Overall, the book’s primary storyline is a bit stereotypic but appealing, and the breaks from common sense and police practice are disguised by constant, violent action. But if you’re the type of reader who wants a clever blending of fact and fiction, you may want to look elsewhere.

See on Amazon:

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Get a Copy of Killer in the Retroscape for Free

For a limited time, you can get an eBook copy of Killer in the Retroscape for free, just by joining my mailing list.

It’s was one of my favorite books to write and has garnered some critical acclaim along the way (BRAG Medallion Honoree, Finalist in the Eric Hoffer Awards). I hope you enjoy it. Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time—but I hope you stick around for a while, check out the sales on my other novels, new releases, and book reviews.

Claim your copy now:

Thursday, July 16, 2020

A Blogger’s Review of All of My Books (Almost)

I’m honored to be mentioned on Caleb and Linda Pirtle’s Here Comes a Mystery blog as “One of the Top Ten TechnoThriller Writers You Need To Be Reading.” Check out their post here:

Their review missed only the second book in the Mind Sleuth series, Mind in the Clouds, which has been described as “… a crazy wild ride through modern day technology with a little advanced AI thrown in to create an action thriller par excellence.” And since I just completed a second edition of this military thriller, I’ll add that one link:

Thanks Caleb and Linda!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Save on a Copy of Mind in Chains

“Suspense, twists and turns, chilling ideas that you can see happening now …” Amazon UK 5- review

Don’t miss Mind in Chains while it’s only $0.99--now through July 19
£0.99 in the UK

Monday, July 13, 2020

Book Review: Murder on Cold Street (Lady Sherlock #5) by Sherry Thomas

Quite the Character Solves Quite the Mystery

If you’re new to the Lady Sherlock books, as I was, a sentence on their premise is appropriate. In the series, Sherlock Holmes is the invention of Charlotte Holmes and Mrs. Watson so that the former can practice her trade as a private investigator in a time and place (Victorian England) when a woman would have been ignored. If that sounds like a promising foundation for historical fiction, let me say that author Sherry Thomas in Murder on Cold Street delivers on it fully.

I particularly liked our hero, Charlotte. She’s not constrained by the strict social mores of the time, often being the aggressor in her budding relationship with Lord Ingram Ashburton … although Ash is starting to catch up. She’s adept at reading the emotions of others, even if her own are stunted in most areas except those involving Ash or cake. And her fashion sense is truly outlandish. "Had his retinas not been seared by the Christmas tree dress, her dinner gown would have been the most outlandish thing he witnessed today.” And while that specific sentence may not make it through the final edit of the book, which is set for release on October 6, Charlotte’s audacious look will.

But plot drives mysteries for me, and this one has everything an intelligent whodunit should. At the outset, Inspector Treadles is apprehended in a locked room with two dead men. He’s covered in blood and armed with his service revolver, the apparent murder weapon. And yet, he won’t defend himself. A probable villain soon appears and the primary focus of the mystery shifts to piecing together a timeline and finding motivations. A crime scene that initially seems well contained—an empty house on Cold Street—ends up seeming as busy a subway station at rush hour. But by the end, Holmes, Watson, and their compatriots put it all together. There is even some well-turned commentary on Victorian race relations and a woman’s place in business, all of which resonant well with current times.

My concerns about the book were few and minor. In one case, it seemed that our investigators assumed the importance of a piece of evidence that, in real life, would have probably turned out to be irrelevant. Holmes shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions. As another example, the explanation of how and why two had died in the house felt a bit strained, like a one-in-a-million shot. But overall, the complexity of the situation and the way the pieces came together at the end more than offset these minor issues. Murder on Cold Street is an outstanding read, ready to keep you guessing till the very end.

Thanks to NetGalley, the author (Sherry Thomas), and the publisher (Berkley Publishing Group) for providing a copy of this book. I opted to write this candid review.

July's Limited Time eBook Deals

Even if your beach reads are by the sandbox in your backyard, you can still enjoy these savings. Just don’t wait too long.

Happy reading,

(Prices change constantly. Be sure to verify all prices before purchase.)

Mind in Chains (The Mind Sleuth Series Book 3) by [Bruce M. Perrin]Mind in Chains (The Mind Sleuth Series Book 3)
By Bruce M. Perrin
Sale Date: NOW until 7/19
Medical thriller
Regular Price: $3.99  Sale Price: $0.99

2020 BRAG Medallion Honoree

The healthcare-for-all debate in the US erupts in a series of deadly attacks on the medical community, and soon, Doc Price and Nicole Veles find themselves the next intended victims. Doc finds an unlikely ally in FBI Special Agent Rebecca Marte. Together, they tried to make sense of the Crusaders’ actions that defied all logic; the terrorists show no fear of identification—or even death. In the end, Doc risks everything he loves in a final, deadly gambit with the Crusaders, only to find that the cost of his ploy may be more than he can pay.

“… a multifaceted, absorbing read that lingers in the mind long after the final revelation which examines issues of justice and humanity, as it crafts a growing story of horror,” D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review.

Christmas in The Sisters: A Holiday Mystery Novel (The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series Book 6) by [Becki Willis]Christmas in The Sisters: A Holiday Mystery Novel (The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series Book 6)
By Becki Willis
Sale Date: NOW until 7/17
Cozy Mystery
Regular Price: $3.99  Sale Price: $0.99

Madison Reynolds can’t wait for Christmas this year. Rebuilding her life as a single mom hasn’t been easy, but after a challenging twelve months, she’s excited about the holidays.

The tinsel begins to tangle when someone targets the community for a series of ‘Christmas Crimes.’ Homes are broken into and wrapped gifts are stolen from beneath trees. Even vehicles loaded with presents aren’t safe, particularly on a lone stretch of highway. 

Finding the common link between cases is like finding the bad bulb on a string of lights. Every lead is a short circuit. The frustration mounts when Madison and the Angel Tree she’s involved with fall victim to the crimes. Only the worst kind of Grinch steals from needy children!

This is one Christmas that no one in The Sisters will ever forget!

Prison Runner: A Thriller (Micah Reed Book 6) by [Jim Heskett]Prison Runner: A Thriller (Micah Reed Book 6)
By Jim Heskett
Sale Date: NOW until 7/19
Crime Thriller
Regular Price: $3.99  Sale Price: $0.99

A ghost from the past. An innocent life in danger. If Micah helps, he’ll also be marked for death.

Micah Reed doesn’t like to dwell on the time he spent in prison. But when a Dallas news station shows his old cellmate Elias fleeing from ruthless hitmen, he’s left no choice.

Micah rushes to Texas to escort his celly to safety, but it’s not so easy. When Micah discovers the shocking secret of why Elias has been targeted, everything Micah believes about his past will come into question.

Can he battle his way out before they imprison him in concrete shoes?

On Deadly Grounds by [Kaye D. Schmitz]On Deadly Grounds
By Kaye D. Schmitz
Sale Date: NOW until 7/19
Spy Mystery
Regular Price: $3.99  Sale Price: $0.99

On the eve of an international G7 Summit, event coordinator Mattie Maguire discovers that the venue, a century-old estate close to Asheville, NC, is more than simply a picturesque setting. It is also the center of political conspiracies involving a ruthless Russian spy ring that will stop at nothing to steal the massive fortune they believe to be hidden there. The search intensifies and a rogue Russian agent attacks Mattie’s grandmother, still living on the estate. She hovers in a coma, barely clinging to life. 

As Mattie struggles to protect her family and ensure a safe event for the most important leaders in the world, her discovery of a fraudulent heir to the estate puts her own life in danger as well. But when her eighty-five-year-old grandfather is kidnapped and held at gunpoint, her path becomes clear. Despite her fear, she must locate the only person who has the information the Russians seek—the estate’s rightful heir, hidden away for decades after the murder of his father. But will the true owner’s return to his childhood home put his life in danger, too?

Welcome to Piney Falls (Piney Falls Mysteries Book 1) by [Joann Keder]Welcome to Piney Falls (Piney Falls Mysteries Book 1)
By Joann Keder
Sale Date: NOW until 7/19
Women’s Detective Fiction
Regular Price: $3.99  Sale Price: $0.99

Lanie Anders has a perfectly-ordered life. From her half-foam latte to her marketing executive job to the creative writing course she takes for fun. She controls every outcome...until the night her home burns to the ground. 

At the urging of her creative writing professor, she decides to take a trip to the tiny town of Piney Falls, Oregon to write her final assignment. The town changed its name from Flanagan to Piney Falls without any notice. Lanie’s assignment was to write a fictional story, but now she wants to find out what really happened.

Upon arrival, she finds herself in a different world. Her next-door-neighbor speaks in riddles, and the impossibly handsome owner of Cosmic Cakes and Antiquery is hiding something. People are dying at an alarming rate. Nothing makes sense in this beautiful ocean-side hamlet.

Hush: A Chloe Daniels Mystery (Chloe Daniels Mysteries Book 2) by [Deidra D. S. Green]Hush: A Chloe Daniels Mystery (Chloe Daniels Mysteries Book 2)
By Deidra D. S. Green
Sale Date: NOW until 7/19
Horror Suspense
Regular Price: $2.99  Sale Price: $0.99

In Sick, Sicker, Sickest, you met angel of mercy Anna Black. In Anna’s quest to gain favor with her parents and help the less fortunate, she leaves a number of bodies in her wake. Now, Anna Black is on the run, and a new killer has emerged, dropping bodies under overpasses and stealing the spotlight from the now infamous Black. This new killer, affectionately dubbed the baby doll killer, is a complete mystery. Dr. Chloe Daniels and police detective Michael Phillips find themselves behind the eight ball trying to solve these horrendous crimes. Who is this Baby Doll Killer? Will Anna Black be found? Find out in Hush, the second installment in the Chloe Daniels Mysteries.

The Business of Blood (A Fiona Mahoney Mystery Book 1) by [Kerrigan Byrne]The Business of Blood (A Fiona Mahoney Mystery Book 1)
By Kerrigan Byrne
Sale Date: NOW until 7/19
Historical Mystery
Regular Price: $5.99  Sale Price: $0.99

Dying is the only thing people do with any regularity, and Fiona makes her indecorous living cleaning up after the corpses are carted away. 

When she’s called to a murder in the middle of the night, Fiona finds a victim mutilated in an eerily similar fashion to those of the Ripper. The relentless, overbearing, and irritatingly handsome Inspector Grayson Croft warns her away from the case. She might have listened, if she hadn’t found a clue in the blood. A clue that will lead her down a path from which there is no return. As a killer cuts a devastating swath through London, a letter written in blood arrives at her door, and it is only then that Fiona realizes just how perilous her endeavor is. For she has drawn the attention of an obsessive evil, and is no longer the hunter, but the prey. Fiona Mahoney is in the business of blood.

But she’s not the only one...

Micah Reed Thriller Box Set 1 (Witness Protection Thrillers) by [Jim Heskett]Micah Reed Thriller Box Set 1 (Witness Protection Thrillers)
By Jim Heskett
Sale Date: NOW until 7/19
Suspense Thrillers
Regular Price: $8.99  Sale Price: $1.99

Box Set: 900+ pages and three thrilling crime novels. Join a man on the run as he grapples with his past.

Reformed criminal Micah Reed has a price on his head. After a vindictive drug dealer threatens his family’s lives, he escapes to a sleepy mountain town to search for his estranged sister. He never expected that she would fall in with a cryptic cult…

During a precarious undercover mission to infiltrate their commune, Micah plots to remove his sister from harm’s way. But a shocking new arrival turns Micah's rescue mission into a desperate race against time.

Dragon's Bride (The Dragon and the Scholar Book 4) by [H. L. Burke]Dragon's Bride (The Dragon and the Scholar Book 4)
By H. L. Burke
Sale Date: NOW until 7/18
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy
Regular Price: $4.99  Sale Price: $0.99

Dragon Prince Ewan has promised his beloved, Shannon, that he will become a man again or die in the attempt. With the aid of his scholarly friend, Martin, Ewan consults the great Dragon Queen Harviss, who offers him a unique solution: return to the past to find Ewan's Fey ancestor and beg for her help. Leaving Shannon behind, Ewan and Martin travel to a dangerous past and fall into the clutches of a powerful Fey queen.

Meanwhile, Shannon finds herself alone and with child. Unable to sit still with her husband absent, she joins with Ryan of Westshire in the prince's desperate search for his young son. King Riley, however, will see Ryan dead before allowing him to find the lost child.

Can Shannon find a way to unite Ryan with his son?

Occupied Earth (The Sequel to First Encounter) (Ascension Wars Book 2) by [Jasper T. Scott, Tom Edwards, Aaron Sikes]Occupied Earth (The Sequel to First Encounter) (Ascension Wars Book 2)
By Jasper T. Scott
Sale Date: NOW until 7/17
Steampunk Sci-Fi
Regular Price: $3.99  Sale Price: $0.99

Captain Clayton Cross and his crew encountered the Kyra, an advanced race of avian carnivores. They fled this first encounter, but the Kyra beat them back to Earth by almost a century.

Earth lost the war in just a few weeks. Our cities burned, and billions died. After we surrendered, the Kyra helped us to rebuild, but on their terms, confining us to city centers and building high walls to keep us in.

Determined to oppose the Kyra any way he can, Clayton is working with the human resistance, and now they have a plan that will either put an end to the occupation, or to us...

Two Types of Steel by [David Escobar]Two Types of Steel
By David Escobar
Sale Date: NOW until 7/18
Dystopian Fiction
Regular Price: $4.99  Sale Price: $0.99

Beth and Percy were born into a war-ravaged humanity on the brink of being wiped out by a rogue force known as the Remnant. There is only one way for them to help end the conflict and protect what’s left of their home: become pilots of mankind’s most advanced armored weapon, the LAW.

After proving themselves to be exceptional as youths, the twins are accelerated into an intense new program which provides a chance to jump start their piloting dream. But fighting an enemy they don’t fully understand presents a challenge no weapon can overcome.

Only one thing remains certain. Beth and Percy must either become the LAW, or their hope for a better world will die with them.

Monday, July 6, 2020

A Speculative Fiction Collection for the KU Subscriber

Are you:
  • A Kindle Unlimited Subscriber?
  • A Sci-Fi, Fantasy, or Speculative Fiction Lover?
If you answered yes to both, then check out the 25+ Kindle Unlimited reads we’ve compiled for you!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Recognition for Mind in Chains

I’m honored that Mind in Chains has been recognized as an Indie BRAG Medallion Honoree.

Synopsis: The healthcare-for-all debate in the US erupts in a series of deadly attacks on the medical community, and soon, Doc Price and Nicole Veles find themselves the next intended victims. Doc finds an unlikely ally in FBI Special Agent Rebecca Marte. Together, they tried to make sense of the Crusaders’ actions that defied all logic; the terrorists show no fear of identification—or even death. In the end, Doc risks everything he loves in a final, deadly gambit with the Crusaders, only to find that the cost of his ploy may be more than he can pay.

Book Review: Break My Bones (A Deadly Sins Novel Book 1) by Rachael Tamayo

A Raw Tale of Domestic Violence Weakened by Plot Inconsistencies

Take one demanding, abusive husband, Cain, who equates marriage with ownership. Add one sadistic sidekick, Donovan, who believes it’s his obligation to goad his friend into settling the score with his wife—whether her indiscretions are real or imagined. And finally, the woman, Brook, who’s tired of running with her child and has decided to take a stand against Cain. Those elements promise a tense tale of domestic violence and that’s what Rachel Tamayo delivers in Break My Bones. The prose is descriptive and raw—not for young audiences. The pacing is fast, as the story moves between the ‘lessons’ Cain taught his wife in the past to the reconciliation he plans for their future, a reconciliation on his terms or else.

For her part, Brook prepares for Cain’s return from incarceration for DWI, the only crime he’s been convicted of perpetrating. She starts to rebuild her life. She pulls herself out of poverty. She buys a gun and gets into shape. Those measures, however, prove completely ineffectual, as he easily overpowers her, again and again after he returns. Now, she is trapped in the psychological conflict of an abused spouse—guilt in turning against a first love and the father of her child vs. her terror of making another misstep in his eyes. There is hope for Brook, however, in the form of a new love—one she didn’t want, never expected, but can’t resist. Brandon enters the picture, offering her the shelter she needs in this violent storm. This budding relationship is described with sensitivity and well-turned prose, although it felt a bit far-fetched in the midst of everything else.

But the real problem with the book are issues with the plot. First, there is an “explanation” at the end of the book that presumably was to be a twist. Unfortunately, it’s a convenient scapegoat easily spotted early in the book. But more importantly, events just don’t hang together. For example, at one point Brook decries the fact that she has no proof of her husband’s abuse to take to the police, and yet, in other places we learn her back is covered with scars from cigarette burns. That’s not self-inflected. In another scene, Cain breaks into a house in the middle of the night where Brook is staying with friends. It’s surprising he could do so without waking anyone, but when the friends do nothing the next morning—they don’t call the police, change the locks, install a security system—the turn of events is inexplicable. And as a final example, Cain visits his lawyer, then leaves his office with the man dead. And yet, the lawyer’s receptionist apparently can’t put it together since no one comes looking for Cain at that point. A book that could have been nail-biting and gut-wrenching becomes unfathomable in several places. 

Overall, Break My Bones is a chilling account of domestic abuse and the psychological conflict of a woman caught in it. Fixing some of the plot inconsistencies would have made it much better.

I was given a copy of the book by the author. I elected to write this candid review.

See on Amazon:

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.)

Friday, July 3, 2020

Free Thriller and Mystery Novels if You’ll Give an Author’s Newsletter a Try

If, like me, your reading interests include thriller, suspense, and mystery novels, then this is a collection you should check out. Find your next favorite read and a new author with more than 40 free books to choose from.

My entry into this promotion? Killer in the Retroscape, a BRAG Medallion honoree and Montaigne Medal Finalist. And besides, if you’re already on my mailing list, it’s not like you can be added twice! So, pick up your free copy today.

Happy reading,

Thursday, July 2, 2020

A (Hopefully) Transparent Change in my Newsletter

From those blog subscribers who have been with me since August 2015 to those who’ve joined today, THANK YOU!

As a result of your interest, the email list has grown beyond what my blog can handle. So, starting today, I’m using new email distribution software (SendFox) and returning the blog to being a blog, e.g., shorter tidbits about my work (like this one). Those posts will be included in the newsletter in some cases, summarized in others, or omitted entirely when they seem too focused, e.g., something specifically for other authors. If you want more of the day-to-day, visit here regularly.

Also, you may want to add “” to your Contacts. That should keep the newsletter out of your SPAM folder.

And now that I am posting this, I’m wondering if the blog’s email service has really been shut down, or if this post is about to go out to everyone? Oh well, we can all use a laugh these days.

Happy reading,

Book Review: CyberStorm: A Novel by Matthew Mather

Cyberterrorism as an Attack on our Minds as Much as our Bodies

CyberStorm is a story of survival, a tale about Mike Mitchell and his family and friends struggling to stay alive in New York City without power, without water, with rapidly diminishing food supplies, and with limited, unreliable communications. Presumably the result of a cyberattack, the situation deteriorates further when the city is hit with a major snowstorm. Under these dire conditions, the psychological growth of the characters is particularly well portrayed by author Matthew Mather. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Mitchell and his wife change. Their initial discord gave way to a bond they forged under the threat of starvation, illness, injury, and freezing to death. Mitchell’s growth is also well portrayed. The women, in general terms, are disappointingly shallow for much of the book, making their later adaptation seem a bit too little, too late, but it is there. Of course, the threat to life didn’t bring out altruism in everyone. Author Mather’s villains are viable, although not as diabolical as they might have been.

As an attack on our physical existence, the book is somewhat lacking in creativity. If you design a situation where some eight million or so people are trapped in a dying city, which Mather does, it’s not hard to imagine what would happen. Looting at first, then killing to survive when the stores are picked clean. True, these events are chillingly described, but I did not find them surprising or particularly gripping (but then, maybe I read too many dystopian novels).

What is, however, much more insightful is the book’s portrayal of the effect of cyberterrorism on our minds. As a reader, we know what Mike Mitchell believes to be true and what he believes is shaped by his expectations as much as his experiences. In the final few pages, Mather peels back the distorting influences of the main character’s preconceptions and we as readers get a look at ground truth, witnessing how the isolation and deprivation caused by a cyberattack and massive storm might play with our heads. If there is a limitation in this aspect of the story, it is that Mather left it until very late, making it feel a bit rushed and underdeveloped. But from my perspective, this insight, along with a well-told story of surviving against all odds makes this book a stellar read.

See on Amazon:

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.)