Apr 082015
 

THE TEST by John Lansing
Published by: Tatra Press
Publication Date: November 1, 2014
ASIN: B00ON4JH2Q
Pages: 29
Review Copy from: Author
Edition: Kindle
My Rating: 5

Synopsis:
A coming-of-age story set in 1950s, small-town Long Island, at time when suburban America is about to undergo seismic societal changes. With this backdrop, a teenage boy falls in love with one of the town’s few black girls, a relationship that has repercussions leading to permanent transformations for the couple–and for the town.

My Thoughts and Opinion:
I became of fan of John Lansing’s after reading his suspense novel BLOND CARGO so was a bit apprehensive when I was asked to review his general fiction novelette THE TEST. Was I disappointed or happily surprised?

THE TEST is a story of a young, innocent and very naive young man growing up in a culture that was yet to be accepting of integration. Jack Morgan returns to his hometown of Baldwin, NY to sell his boyhood home after the death of his parents. Returning, even after 50 years, has brought back memories of his first love.

Even though the story is just 26 pages long, the emotions and feelings were vividly felt by this reader. The setting easily created due to the extraordinary writing ability of this author. I am always amazed when a short story can evoke such feeling and so much detail that the reader can connect with the characters. And then to have an ending that I didn’t see coming.

Now to answer my question..disappointed or surprisingly pleased? The answer is…Absolutely pleased!!!  I knew when I read BLOND CARGO and put Mr. Lansing on my “authors to read list”, he was a damn good writer. And with THE TEST, he is definitely staying on that list!! Highly recommend!!!.

Purchase Links:  

 

John Lansing started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre playing the lead in the Broadway production of “Grease.” He then landed a co-starring role in George Lucas’ “More American Graffiti,” and guest-starred on numerous television shows. During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced “Walker Texas Ranger,” co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and he also co-executive produced the ABC series “Scoundrels.” John’s first book was “Good Cop, Bad Money,” a true crime tome with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano. “The Devil’s Necktie” was his first novel. “Blond Cargo” is the next book in the Jack Bertolino series. A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.facebook_512 twitter_512 rss_512

 

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REVIEW DISCLAIMER
This blog was founded on the premise to write  honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.

ADDENDUM

I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.  I am an  IndieBound affiliate.  I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook .

 

Nov 032014
 

BLOND CARGO by John Lansing
Published by Karen Hunter/Simon&Schuster
Publication Date: October 20, 2014
ISBN:13-9781476795515
Pages: 355
Review request via PICT/Pub
Edition: Kindle
My Rating: 5

Synopsis (borrowed from GR):
Jack Bertolino is back… in the sequel to John Lansing’s, Barnes & Noble bestseller, “The Devil’s Necktie.”
Jack’s son, Chris, was the victim of a brutal murder attempt and Vincent Cardona, a mafia boss, provided information that helped Jack take down the perpetrator of the crime. Jack accepted the favor knowing there’d be blowback. In “Blond Cargo,” the mobster’s daughter has gone missing and Cardona turned in his chit. Jack discovers that the young, blond, mafia princess has been kidnapped and imprisoned while rich, politically connected men negotiate her value as a sex slave. John Lansing taps into the real life world of cops, crime, drugs and murder to deliver another sizzling whodunit.

My Thoughts and Opinion:
When I first read the synopsis of this book, like you might just have done, the word sequel stood out to me. But since the story sounded like something I would enjoy, I hoped that it was a book that the author would enlighten the reader of info from the first book when needed and he did. I never felt that I was “lost”

Words that came to mind while reading BLOND CARGO: excitement, non-stop action, adrenaline pumping, page turning adventure, heart pounding pace, and sometimes even a bit of humor.

Jack Bertolino, former LAPD and now PI is “paying back a favor” for mobster Vincent Cardona, to find his missing daughter. But it’s not your average “missing person” case. Drugs, Sex trade, Mafia, Family, Children, Relationships, Exes, Contract hits, Action packed.

This was the first time I read anything by this author and I was hooked by the first chapter. By the third chapter, because of his amazing ability with the written word, my visual creation and the adrenaline that was pumping faster than my eyes could absorb, until the final page, Mr. Lansing was added to my “authors to read” list. I will definitely be picking up the first in this series, THE DEVIL’S NECKTIE and hopefully there is a 3rd.

Do I recommend this author and/or this book? If you like action? Then the answer is absolutely!!

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REVIEW DISCLAIMER
This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM

I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.  I am an IndieBound affiliate.  I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.
Sep 032014
 

WELCOME Alan Brenham

Alan Brenham

Alan Behr served as a law enforcement officer and criminal investigator for seventeen years before earning a law degree from Baylor University. After obtaining his law license, he worked as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney for twenty-two years. His personal and official travels took him to several European and Middle Eastern countries, Alaska and almost every island in the Caribbean. He has lived in Berlin, Germany while working with US military forces. After retiring from government service, he has authored two crime novels – Price of Justice and Cornered – under the pen name of Alan Brenham. He is presently working on two more novels. Alan and his wife, Lillian, currently live in the Austin, Texas area.

Connect with Alan Brenham:

WEBSITE TWITTER

Q&A with Alan Brenham

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?

I actually draw from both. Plot ideas are derived from current events and cases worked as a police officer. Use of current events such as human trafficking in my novel Cornered, or crimes against children and parental revenge as in my other novel Price of Justice, makes the plot more believable to readers. Hopefully, this raises questions for the reader to ponder, such as, what would I do if that happened to me or a member of my family.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?

When I first began writing fiction, my starting point was always the beginning. In life, everything starts at the beginning. How it all ends will be a surprise. Why should a fictional story be any different? But for me, the result ended up being a quagmire or nightmare of disconnected scenes and character story lines. In short, it lacked a smooth flow.
But time and experience plus a lot of reading of other author’s novels, made me realize my style needed a drastic change. Now, it’s conclusion first but I don’t then do the plot in reverse. Once I’m satisfied with where and how the story will finish, I’ll frame the beginning – usually right in the middle of some major event. With a likeable beginning and ending in place – a framework, the story with its subtle clues and foreshadowing is easier to write.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I work from a home office. Armed with cups of coffee, I’ll start the day by re-reading the last scene written the day before so as to refresh my recollection. Then the typing begins. While I type, I love to listen to German polka music or instrumentals of my favorite tunes from days gone by. It also masks distracting sounds from the lawn care crew.

Is writing your full time job? If not, may I ask what you do by day?

It is. Having retired from government service, I spend my time either writing the next novel or reading/studying how other authors did it. Occasionally I have to pause and submit/answer emails or phone calls from other attorneys or police associates about various topics – some related to my writing and some not.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

This is a difficult question. A year or so ago, I’d have said it was Michael Connelly, John Sandford, and J.A. Jance. Now, having expanded my reading list to include many more authors, I’d list three – Michael McGarrity with his vivid descriptions of settings in New Mexico for his protagonist, Kevin Kearney; James Hayman with his “can’t put it down” stories about his co-protagonists McCabe and Savage; and Meg Gardiner, not only because she’s from Austin but for her full 3-dimensional descriptions of her novels’ characters.

What are you reading now?

I deviated from my favorites to read the next two books in my Nook’s queue – Class Dismissed by Mark Petry, and The Psalmist by James Lilliefors. I selected them because Mark’s a fellow author with the same publisher as me – it’s a way of supporting him plus he writes an interesting novel. Lilliefors is an author I know little about. I read the blurb about this book while searching for a crime novel to read/study.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?

Right now, I’m in the middle of finishing the third revision of Rampage, the sequel to Price of Justice. It follows Detective Scarsdale and his new partner, Tatum Harper, as they try to identify and catch a killer. The book uses themes of temptation, trust, and redemption.

In the wings, with an outline and the first two chapters written, is a stand-alone mystery-thriller about an assistant district attorney who finds the dark side just as enticing as the law.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?

Believe it or not, when I start a new novel, I cast the characters so I can visualize them while I’m writing about them. That said, for my novel Cornered, Christian Bale would be my choice for the role of Detective Matt Brady; Sarah Jones is the perfect actress for the role of Dr. Tracy Rogers; Cassidy Freeman possesses the same snarky smile as Brady’s ex-girlfriend, Cassandra. The bad guys, Weaver and Chiles, would be played by Michael Rooker and Michael Mando, respectively.

Manuscript/Notes: handwritten or keyboard?

My manuscript is always, always done by keyboard. If I (a hunt and peck typist) had to write it by hand or on a conventional typewriter, it’d take me forever to get it done. But my notes and those 3AM epiphanies are all scribblings put on notepads my wife leaves in strategic spots around the house.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

My favorite activity is dating my wife. She’s a beautiful woman whose patience with me obviously knows no limits. My next favorite activity is watching pro and college football games. Aside from football, I have several favorite TV shows – The Originals, The Last Ship, Under the Dome, Motive, Murder in the First, and Bitten.

Favorite meal?

My wife says I’m an easy mark for a homemade chocolate chip cookie. Like a dog doing tricks for a dog biscuit.

ABOUT Cornered

He’s haunted by the memory of a kidnapping case gone wrong…

Not wanting history to repeat itself, Detective Matt Brady struggles to solve the disappearances of seven young women, but he quickly finds himself pitted against a criminal organization that knows as much about police procedure as he does—an organization that will do whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of him. His troubles are compounded when a young veterinarian injects herself into the investigation and is targeted to become victim number eight. When he tries to protect her, he finds himself in the crosshairs of a professional cop killer. Can Brady solve the case in time to save his new love, or will this investigation be the death of both of them?

BOOK DETAILS:

Number of Pages: 320
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Publication Date: July 19, 2014
ISBN-13: 9781626941380/9781626941373

PURCHASE LINKS:

DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review. No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM
I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

 

Aug 062014
 

The Insanity Plea by Larry D. Thompson
Published by Story Merchant
Publication Date: May 4, 2014
ISBN-10: 0989715477
ISBN-13: 978-0989715478
Pages: 378
Review Copy from: Author/PICT
Edition: ARC
My Rating: 5

Synopsis:
A young nurse is savagely killed during a pre-dawn run on Galveston’s seawall. The murderer slices her running shorts from her body as his trophy and tosses the body over the wall to the rocks below. As dawn breaks, a bedraggled street person, wearing four layers of old, tattered clothes, emerges from the end of the jetty, waving his arms and talking to people only he hears. He trips over the body, checks for a pulse and, instead, finds a diamond bracelet which he puts in his pocket. He hurries across the street, heading for breakfast at the Salvation Army two blocks away, leaving his footprints in blood as he goes.

Wayne Little, former Galveston prosecutor and now Houston trial lawyer, learns that his older brother has been charged with capital murder for the killing. At first he refuses to be dragged back into his brother’s life. Once a brilliant lawyer, Dan’s paranoid schizophrenia had captured his mind, estranging everyone including Wayne. Finally giving in to pleas from his mother, Wayne enlists the help of his best friend, Duke Romack, former NBA star turned criminal lawyer. When Wayne and Duke review the evidence, they conclude that Dan’s chances are slim. They either find the killer or win a plea of insanity since the prosecution’s case is air tight. The former may be a mission impossible since the killer is the most brilliant, devious and cruel fictional murderer since Hannibal Lecter. The chances of winning an insanity plea are equally grim.

It will take the combined skills of the two lawyers along with those of Duke’s girlfriend, Claudia, a brilliant appellate lawyer, and Rita Contreras, Wayne’s next door neighbor and computer hacker extraordinaire, to attempt to unravel the mystery of the serial killer before the clock clicks down to a guilty verdict for Dan.

My Thoughts and Opinion:
Since I started blogging/reviewing over the past 5+ years, I have stated on many occasions, how skeptical I am when I start to read the 2nd novel by an author.  Especially if I rated the author’s debut book, in this case Dead Peasants, a 5 star.  Did this particular writer do it again? 
 
Mr. Thompson pulled me in within the first few pages.  But what really surprised me was that this book was so different.  Very early on, the reader knew who the villain was, whereas in Dead Peasants, the race was finding “who done it”.  One similar aspect, however, was that both books enlightened readers to legal issues but not with a lot of legalese.  What a “dead peasant” really meant and how “the insanity plea” is different in each state in this country and how mental illness still carries a stigma to this day.
 
The reader is first introduced to the Little brothers, Dan and Wayne.  Both lawyers but each dealt very, very different cards in the game of life.  Then more of the cast enters, Sarah Little, the mother, three friends of Wayne’s who are aka “The Posse”, and Dr. Parke, a very distinguished psychiatrist who specializes in “serial killers” and  who, for a hefty fee, will sway his testimony for those who hire him.

 

And it seems there is a serial killer on the loose and killing in different states.  And in Texas, where Debbie Robinson is found dead, Dan Little is arrested for her murder.  Could he have killed others?

 

The cast believable.  The setting, so descriptive, I could vividly visualize “The Posse” sitting on Sarah’s front porch after a day in court.  Or Rita, a member of The Posse” taking her morning jog that fateful day.
 
This was another page turner by Mr. Thompson!!  By Chapter 50, my heart was racing.  And as the trial got underway, it was an adrenaline pumping read!!!  Highly recommend!

 

 Bravo Mr. Thompson!!  You absolutely did do it again!!  I can’t wait for your next novel.

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REVIEW DISCLAIMER
This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM

I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.  I am an IndieBound affiliate.  I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.
Aug 032014
 

Devil In The Hole by Charles Salzberg
Published by Five Star
Publication Date: August 7, 2013
ISBN-10: 1432826964
ISBN-13: 978-1432826963
Pages: 252
Review Copy from: Author
Edition: HC
My Rating: 4

Synopsis:
In the ballroom of a sparsely furnished Connecticut mansion, police find a shocking sight: four bodies lined up next to each other, three teenagers and a middle-aged woman, each lying on a blanket, each shot once in the head. In an upstairs bedroom: an elderly woman and the family dog, both of them shot as well. The only person missing is the husband, father, son, and prime suspect, John Hartman, who’s got a three-week jump on the police.

Through the eyes of almost two dozen characters, including the neighbor who reports the crime, Hartman’s mistress, a dogged state investigator, the family minister, and some of the characters Hartman meets on his escape route, we piece together not only what happened and how these shocking murders affect the community, but how John Hartman evades capture, where he’s headed, and maybe even why he committed this gruesome crime in the first place.

Based on the notorious John List murders and already compared to works by Norman Mailer and Russell Banks, Devil in the Hole is gripping, literate, and haunting.

My Thoughts and Opinion:
This book was riveting and intriguing right from the start. As the synopsis states, it is based on a horrific true crime murder that went cold for many years. The chapters are short and each one is narrated by a different person as their “take” on the murder.

At first I thought that the amount of more than 20 characters would make this read confusing but after a few chapters I knew that wouldn’t be the case. I was so engrossed in the story that it truly felt that each cast member was talking directly to me with their opinion of this story. So compelling that I had to keep reminding myself that these characters were fictional. So captivating, that by the middle of the book, I had to research the actual murder.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which had me turning the pages, to see what the next voice would reveal. A highly recommended read!!!

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REVIEW DISCLAIMER
This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM
I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.  I am an IndieBound affiliate.  I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.