Thursday, February 17, 2011

CRITICAL CONDITION - a Carl Brookins review

Critical Condition
By C.J.Lyons
ISBN: 9780515148688
Mass Market, 300 page
2010 release from Jove
Fourth and last in the Angels of Mercy series.

A hospital in Pittsburgh is under siege, both from within and without as a huge blizzard brings the city to a standstill. In the hospital, Dr. Gina Freeman is trying to cope with the problematical recovery of her fiancé, detective Jerry Boyle, suffering from bullet wounds. Elsewhere in the hospital, other capable if flawed women, Charge Nurse Nora Halloran, and student Amanda Mason, prepare to wait out the storm.

A vicious band of armed killers suddenly appears, looking for a doctor who happens to be out of the hospital. She, apparently, holds the key to the continued well-being of a powerful and wealthy political figure from the West Coast. The thugs demonstrate a frightening propensity for killing anyone who gets in the way and the bodies pile up.Written in an almost breathless, pell-mell style, the novel never sags for more than a page or two. Crisis lands on crisis almost as fast as the bodies pile up. Tension grows to almost unbearable levels and relationships become more entangled, setting up conflicts among the protagonists. In the end, the resolution results in a few more bodies.

An excellent novel of type. The characters are well-drawn and have sufficient differences to make them easy to keep track of, the ploys used to confound the gangsters are interesting and varied and appropriate to the venues. The dialogue is logical and understandable and it fits the scenery.

Carl Brookins

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

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

DEATH PANS OUT- A Carl Brookins Review

Death Pans Out
by Ashna Graves
Hardcover, 288 pages,
from Poisoned Pen Press

Reporter Jeneva Leopold, faced with a life-altering decision, takes a leave of absence from her job to recover from surgery. Breast cancer has claimed part of her body and she wants time to recover in relative peace. Not just from the debilitating effects of the surgery itself, but she wants to be in a place where she can think about her life and her existence. This is a novel about an unusual woman with an unusual plan to rehabilitate herself.

There are great stories surrounding the searches for precious metals from
California, South America and the Yukon, as well as the production of gold
from less well-known regions, and this one takes its cue from those stories.
Fact or fiction, we are never quite sure, but here is a story which may well
become a part of that so interesting body of literature.

Jeneva’s family has long owned an idle gold mine in the mountains of
Southern Oregon, a harsh, vastly rural region of high deserts, mountains,
isolated communities, wild animals and, legends. One legend surrounds the
mysterious disappearance of Jeneva’s uncle, Mathew. Mathew disappeared one
night from the cabin at the mine almost twenty years before the story opens,
and his mining partner has retreated into a silent years from which he may
never emerge.

Jeneva takes a long leave of absence and moved to the cabin at the mine
where she intends to spend several months of the summer physically and
mentally recovering from her trauma.Almost immediately, a parade of
compelling characters begins to invade her peaceful existence, from a weird
self-styled “artifact hunter,” who insists that he always camps on Bureau of
Forestry land and visits the area regularly, to a hearty sheriff who seems
at times too good to be true,to a taciturn former model and beauty queen
turned rancher, to assorted miners, a tall funeral director and other
assorted characters.They all make for some fascinating scenes and while
the action is never of a high order, the rising tension and sense of danger
to Jeneva and her friends, is well-handled.

I enjoyed the story, learned some things about governmental land management
and local attitudes toward government, and found the ending quite a
surprise. If there are small problems with this debut novel, they stem from
an experienced reporter acting entirely too trusting and naive to serve the
story, and a couple of the rants are a little too long. That said, I look
forward to another adventure with Jeneva Leopold.
Carl Brookins,
Case of the Greedy Lawyer, Devils Island,
Bloody Halls, more at Kindle & Smashwords!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


WHEN SERPENTS DIE, a Long and Short Review

When Serpents Die:
Laura Kate Plantation Series Book I
Author: Gerrie Ferris
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full (171 pages)
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 5
Reviewed by Stephantois
Laura Kate O'Connell left her life of excitement as an overseas news correspondent to return to her Georgia hometown to raise her two young cousins. When Royce Lee, Laura Kate's attorney, supposedly commits suicide, too many pieces of evidence tell a different story. Her instincts as an investigative reporting are tingling, and she just can't leave it alone.She meets Jack Rhodes, Royce's business partner. Sparks fly, but can she really trust a man she knows nothing about? And why is it that every time something new develops in the case, he seems to be there?
Warnings to back off escalate to an attempt on her life. Now, for Laura Kate, it's more than just a mystery.Depending on Jack might be a mistake, but if Laura Kate can get past his southern charms and the nervous way Jack makes her feel, she may get the facts, solve the case, and even save her own life....
I really enjoyed this book. I love a good mystery and this one didn’t disappoint me in any way. Laura Kate is a great sleuth. Every character jumps off the page. The dialogue sounds so natural it’s almost as if you’re overhearing a conversation. And the southern setting of this book added to the enjoyment. The smells, the manners of the South all added wonderful colorful layers to the plot.
There are the essential quirky characters, the red herring, and there’s even a trial going on in town while Laura’s trying to figure out if Royce took his own life.Laura Kate is a series character and Ferris does a first class job of laying in back story and not giving away too much too soon. All the characters were likely suspects, there were twist and turns I didn’t see coming and it was a pleasure to read.Ferris also added some romantic suspense elements into the mix by introducing Jack as a possible love interest for Laura. I can’t wait to see what happens between these two in the next book of the series. And for that matter, read more of Ferris’ work.
If you like a good mystery with a cast of colorful characters, put this one on your must read lis

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

ABSOLUTION - A Carl Brookins Review


By Susan Fleet

ISBN: 978-1-4357-0841-9

Pub. 2008

Lulu & Kindle

This brutal, dark and explicit novel has a compelling drive to the third-person narrative that makes it difficult to look away. In part, I suspect, readers may be drawn on by an almost irresistible desire to learn how much farther the author is willing to go.

Set in one of the most suggestive cities on the continent, New Orleans, the author has created a nasty killer of similar proportions. The Sinner stalks his victims with a relentless attention to detail until one begins to wonder if he’ll get away with his crimes. It reveals nothing to mention that he does meet an appropriate eventual end, because the mystery is in his identity, carefully concealed through most of the narrative.

As the title suggests the psycho-sexual aberration at the heart of this killer’s impetus is rooted in an intense religiosity and the issues that raises. The sweaty pre-Katrina summer season in New Orleans only enhances the often oppressive feelings of many of the scenes.

The novel combines a multiplicity of viewpoints with several elements of subgenres of this kind of commercial fiction, relentless if sometimes mis-directed police procedures, multiple murders, obscure and difficult motives and complicated relationships between members of a pretty large cast. The tension between the detectives and a local reporter, for example, is very well explored, as are certain racial elements.

If there are a few lapses in logic, an occasional unexplained coincidence, and some dialogue gaffes, overall, Absolution stands out as a highly credible effort.

Carl Brookins,

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