Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Honored Daughters
Laura Kate Plantation Series Book 2

Author: Gerrie Ferris
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full / 183 pgs
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Laura Kate O’Connell is a super-star of a clever southern bell with quick wit and a nice way with horses.
Honored Daughters is truly more mystery than romance, but the romance matters and readers will really enjoy Jack Rhodes when they finally meet him. It won’t be a painful wait though, as from the first moments, interest and intrigue build.
Overall, the quality of the story is excellent. Epic-like adventures – and love – befall our heroine, who seems pulled in several directions most of the time. Her personal life, her decisions and future plans are complicated; Jack Rhodes is her distant, if still true love. He seems to envision an ordinary, predictable sort of future for the two of them, a future Laura Kate isn’t enthused about at all. (Although after meeting him, we do realze he’s more insightful than Laura Kate gives him credit for.)
Before we even get to questions of romance; Agent Nyan Hill complicates her life, with his desperate effort to see the murder of his niece Dari solved. Nyan & Laura Kate’s antagonistic relationship, and occasional sharp dialogue, really make reader’s admire our heroine. She’s nobody’s fool, but is at heart a caring, almost driven person.
Ferris has a distinctive voice, giving Honored Daughters a continuous, rather evocative aura. She creates a time, a place, and a series of characters that seem utterly original, yet also familiar and appealing. There are some seriously suspenseful moments, as well as more tender times; and the mystery is a real mystery, both intriguing and heart-wrenching from the start.
I don’t give it top drawer on rating, only because sentence fragments and frequent odd turns of phrase slow this story one too many a time. It may be a stylistic thing, but it’s annoying and often grammatically incorrect (one example: Moving away from the window, she dressed in riding breeches and … one can't do both things at once, yet this is what this sentence implied).
Although this is contemporary, there is a certain historic feel to it. The horses, the hunt club, the southern-bell comments, and Honored Daughters School itself. Although contemporary, it all has an old, old feel to it. Fans of any southern-style epic will really love this story; perfect reading by a cozy fire.
Finally, Kudos to the artist that got this cover so perfect for the story.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

BIG WHEAT - a Carl Brookins Review

Big Wheat
By Richard A. Thompson
Poisoned Pen Press 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59058-820-8

World War I is done and Charlie Krueger’s older brother is never coming
home. Charlie, his sister and their mother must cope with an increasingly
abusive drunken father and husband. The summer of 1919 wanes and vast
acreages of the Middle West prairies are thick with ripening grain. Up the
long reaches from the banks of the Platte and the Missouri come the contract
threshing crews and their machines, most followed by raffish bindlestiffs to
supplement a farmer’s friends and relatives. The crews are often peopled by
men of questionable backgrounds and are occasionally eyed with suspicion by
local sheriffs who rarely chase criminals beyond their county boundaries.

When Charlie Krueger has a final confrontation with his father, he leaves
behind a sorrowful mother and sister and the local girl he thought he’d love
forever. He becomes a bindlestiff, traveling from farm to farm, learning
the threshing business and nurturing his love for machines.

The machines are new, complicated and prone to breakdowns. Charlie hooks up
with a marvelously conceived traveling machine repair crew that becomes his
new family. But lurking in the background is a killer, a killer who
believes Charlie saw his latest brutal deed. He seeks to find and murder
Charlie. Meanwhile, the sheriff of Charlie’s home county has developed
leads which point him toward Charlie as a murderer.

This then is the roiling plot which moves the story forward. Carefully
constructed and set against the vast reaches of the plains states, the novel
evokes a time and place and the attitudes of the people and the land in a
powerful and moving way. Readers will smell the dust, drip sweat and
shrivel under the burning sun right along with the threshing crews. They’ll
feel a clutch in the night as the sheriff and the murderer draw closer and
they’ll empathize with the casual corruption and the surmounting goodness of
the characters the author has created.

A fine, exciting and unusual well-written novel I am pleased to recommend to
all readers of crime fiction.

Carl Brookins,
Case of the Greedy Lawyer, Devils Island,
Bloody Halls, more at Kindle & Smashwords!

Monday, January 10, 2011

BIRD LIVES! - A Carl Brookins Review

Bird Lives!
Author, Bill Moody
Publisher: Walker
ISBN: 0-8027-3327-1pub. date: 1999
248 pages, Hardcover

Another fine novel in the Evan Horn series. A smoothly written psychological thriller. it’s tight, fast-paced, and should greatly please fans of this type of novel. It will also please fans of jazz music which today have nearly faded into oblivion.

We aren't talking about fusion jazz or the highly commercialized, big-venue stuff. In fact, the practitioners of those kinds of highly commercialized music are the targets of a killer, the killer who forces piano player Evan Horne to become a detective, on pain of more killings. Horne is reluctant but he allows himself to be cajoled into taking on the assignment, first by Cooper, his detective friend, then by the FBI which cannot match Horne’s knowledge of jazz, a key element in the story. Horne is really trying to make a comeback as a piano player after a serious injury. Cops and Robbers is not a gig he wants to play right now.

The book is a compelling look inside the life of the performer who works the small clubs, as well as into the mind and psyche of a killer.

The title refers to Charlie "Bird" Parker, arguably one of the greatest saxophone players whoever lived. Moody evokes memories of a time when acoustic jazz was played in small smoky clubs all over the world to audiences of deeply dedicated fans who were as obsessed with their music as hip-hoppers are today. It was a time with roots from early Armstrong, from Coleman and Coltrane, when Brubeck and Joe Williams, Count Basie and singers like Chris Connor and Anita O'Day were on the charts.

But, whether the music and the artists draw you, or whether you like well-written crime fiction in any setting, here's a story that will draw you in and satisfy your need. Moody is a knowledgeable master of his element. I give this one a firm positive recommendation.

Carl Brookins,
Case of the Greedy Lawyer, Devils Island,Bloody Halls, more at Kindle & Smashwords!