Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Devilliers County Blues 1972 by John W. Cassell

Published by Inkwater Press
My first thought on finishing this book was, Wow! what a ride! The author had me in his grip right from the start. Not only is this a high powered action suspense thriller, but it seems so real somehow, though listed as fiction. Perhaps that is partly attributed to the name of the main protagonist, John Cassell, the same as the author. This may also be ascribed to the feeling of the building of terror and suspense. Whatever the reason for the name as main character, it certainly worked to his advantage, because it did make the story his.

John W. Cassell the author has delved deeply into the world of black ops, conspiracy, evil, greed, and terror. A world where everything operates inside out and eats away at our very souls. A world of organized crime, lawmen on the take, FBI policies and politics. In fact, so much rings true, I'm sure his is drawing a lot from personal knowledge in one form or another, perhaps from 3 or 4 instances. The book begins with Cassell returning home from war-torn Morocco, deeply mourning the death of his fighting partner/true love, Nancy. It is January 4, 1972 and he will soon discover what he has just returned from is nowhere near the extent to which he will be fighting for his life and sanity over the year ahead, as he decides to take a car trip wherever it takes him.

The author has been very consistently in time and place, even speech of the era. Nancy had been working for a multi-millionaire J.B. Fischer before she was killed in Morocco, and was privy to a lot of sensitive information, including incriminating ledgers Fischer had given her to put in her safety deposit box, knowing he was her only beneficiary should she become deceased before him. Therefore it was with real trepidation and fear that he discovered her will had been changed, with John Cassell as residuary devisee. This means that John will receive the contents of the safety deposit box along with anything else that has not been mentioned. So far, John has not been made aware of this.

A frightening scenario is hatched up between Fischer and his cohorts, some very nasty people with loads of resources at their disposal to carry out their evil plan. They can not bump him off within a year because of the year provision. What can they do? Well might you ask! First, Fisher makes Cassell a partner to insure that he will be able to obtain the ledgers on his death, which of course can't happen until the following year.

John, totally aware of none of this except the offer of a partnership, continues his drive and suddenly wakes up in an insane asylum. He soon meets 3 other very diverse occupants who have similar stories, and still not understanding what's going on they draw together in a very strange alliance. It is from this point that their world spins entirely out of control. Here the real evil lurks. Here the plan goes into effect. Here the plan almost works. But unbeknownst to these four they do have two friends working on their behalf undercover. Without this assistance, the story would end here.

This book revels in fear techniques, humor, bravery, and brother/sistership, a lasting friendship, teammates to the end, whatever it may be. Tension, anxiety, terror, and humiliation build up daily as their thinking capacity goes down. If you want a wild ride, roller-coaster action, unique methodology, love of friends, and dire consequences ending in a huge, over-the-top interference of an ending, something that will blow your mind, this book is for you. Relax when our protagonists relax, prepare with them, laugh when they laugh, fight with them, mourn with them, but never forget their strength and their bond. Amazing book.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Price of Candy by Rod Hoisington

Published by EnteraBooks

The cover of this book is a portent of things to come. A good man walks from the light into the dark side, where man becomes fool. A story of opposites, complications, passion, action, threat, going from confusion to comprehension. Opening with the dead body of a naked woman on the beach, with two male witnesses to the accidental death, the story takes a sudden turn to our heroine Sandy Reid, met in "One Deadly Sister", Book 1 of the series. She is studying to become a lawyer. She receives a phone call from an "old acquaintance" the caller tells her. However, there are two reasons why Sandy is unsure about this caller who wants to get together to talk over old times. The caller, identifying herself as Abby Olin, her married surname, a name not known to Sandy, and she calls her Sandra, although Sandy has never been known as Sandra to friends and acquaintances. Yet Sandy becomes curious and decides to meet with her. A grave mistake which brings back some old memories and also traps her in a whole web of trouble.

Rod Hoisington has put together another fast paced murder mystery with a strong protagonist in Sandy. The book is filled with a wide variety of unique characters from her nemesis State Prosecutor Moran, to Abby and her assortment of odd acquaintances. Moran is once more his harassing self, unjustly aimed at Sandy, actually putting her under arrest to destroy her chances at graduating law school at the very least, or blacklisted for the bar at the worst.

Once again Sandy is involved in a high-profile case, plus two other cases that may or may not be connected. She must try to solve everything while she is out on bail and before Moran finds something he can use to rescind her bail. He is planning to charge her with conspiracy to commit murder. Wonderful story-telling as it weaves its way throughout the book, even to a possible kidnapping the mother won't report. These are but a few of the strange happenings she stumbles upon. Fortunately for her, Sandy has many friends in law enforcement and her personal lawyer. Between all of them, and unexpected help from Abby's ex-husband, the net begins to gather all these facts and possibilities, crimes and perpetrators into a loose net, not convinced fully whether they are related cases or not. Rod Hoisington is very good at keeping the mystery going and bringing surprises along the way. My attention was held through to the surprising ending.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Forget to Remember by Alan Cook

Reviewed for Review the Book
Published by AuthorHouse

A very intriguing and entertaining mystery, the first I've read by this author, though he has written several books. Alan Cook knows how to engage his readers and keep them guessing.

The plot opens with the discovery by a restaurant kitchen worker of a naked bloody body of a female in a dumpster behind the restaurant. There is a slight pulse and she is transported to the hospital. Once she comes back to consciousness, she has amnesia, no memory of either her past or what happened to her. And so the mystery begins.

Rigo, who found the girl, feels a need to become her protector and feels responsible for taking care of her once she is released from the hospital. Because he lives with his parents, they invite her to stay with them, she has nowhere else to go and no identity. In fact, because she has amnesia and no one has reported a girl missing, no ID was found at the scene, she has become a non-person. This is significant because as a non-person she can not become a "person", not a citizen of anywhere, no fingerprints on file, she can not get proof of birth, driver's license, can not travel anywhere, and literally has no record of ever existing. This particular subject of the plot made me wonder how many people in the world are "non-persons" for whatever reason.

She decides to go by the name of Carol Golden for the time being. Little by little she comes up with a thought that makes her wonder if it's a memory. Playing a game with Rigo she finds herself thinking in binary and realizes she must have been proficient at math. California doesn't feel right as where she lived, she feels more drawn to the east. I was fascinated with this process in the book. I think Alan Cook was very diligent in dealing with this process. I don't think I found any anachronisms overlooked as hidden memories, that is to say I don't think anything was said or thought of out of context.

A few searches for missing people do not turn up any leads, but a friend of Rigo's family has more connections and ideas and locates a possibility in North Carolina. The lawyer for that case sends Carol papers so she can fly out east. However, the missing girl's grandmother says no, this is not Cynthia. A dead end. But she now has a feeling she was recently in England. Especially when she rents a car and finds herself looking for a standard gear shift on her left, and feels she should be driving on the right. Carol is determined to follow her feelings, and follow them she does. With the papers and money the lawyer has supplied her with, she heads to England.

Memories begin to become more cohesive though the mystery deepens as she struggles with the fact that her attack was not a one-time thing and she is still very much in danger. Will she find out the truth of her identity? Will she find her attacker or worse, will he find her? Or is he stalking her even now.

This book has a lot of interesting detail, the unraveling of the mystery of Carol's identity and the final outcome bring the book to a fast-paced, exciting and surprising conclusion. A well plotted story I really enjoyed.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cosa Nostra by Joseph Orbi

Published by I.O. Twomey Ltd.

The story begins in the present, but then switches back to introduce the reader to the characters. Joseph Orbi is a very descriptive author. His descriptions of the scenes, the characters, and the blossoming of love between two cousins Enrico, 13 and Franco,15, are palpable. All these parts set the tone and place of the whole, although the book itself is more dialogue driven than narrated. Of the two boys, one is timid, a lover of all beauty and music, opera in particular, and is the main character. The other is tough, in control of emotion, the son of a Don.

Fast forward to the present, some 30-40 years later. Both cousins have aged and married although Frank's wife has passed away. He is now a Don. Enrico is a Maestro, producing operas. He is also married. The men have not seen each other for a number of years, and Frank invites Enrico and his daughter to dine at home with Frank and his son, a lawyer.

By this time, the Maestro is a completely flamboyant and over the top character. He refers to his wife as Medea and is desperate to be free of her. It is in this part of the book that the plot turns more to black humor, in fact it seems to sneak up on the reader with sudden realization that the story is not quite what you thought you were reading at the beginning. It also holds your attention as it builds up in tension. Two deaths occur, and another unique character appears, Captain Picol, Chief of Detectives. Are the deaths accidental or are they orchestrated murder? The detective is sure it is murder and is determined to prove it. But is there anything to prove?

While the inspector is working to make a case, an additional plot line is the story becomes almost ludicrous, and I don't mean that as a criticism. The writing is intentional and the final chapter left me laughing. An unusual story, but interesting.