Thursday, September 29, 2011

Human Services: Elimination of Evil by John Rislove

Published by PublishAmerica
Reviewed for Review the Book

This is not an easy book to read, but possibly an important book to read. John Rislove has written this as fiction, but it has a feeling of fact or how a number of people feel should be fact. With the author's background in Human Services, he has created a fictional solution proposed by a judge to a sex offenders therapist that some readers will really like and some readers will really dislike. Taking into consideration how many workers in the violent criminal offenders become either immune, jaded or oppositely burned out and suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome from their requisite involvement with these offenders, the story becomes more believable. The plot is strong and well-written.

There is no doubt that the cost of chronic jail-parole-jail for these repeat offenders is impossibly high, to the detriment of availability of money going toward health, schools, mental health, resources which would definitely create a reduction to the number of individuals who will commit crime in the future, since most crime is committed by individuals who have already suffered in their childhood. This is the basis of the book, the main theme, the fictional method of changing the economic statistics around.

This is not to say the book is dry or fact-filled. It is a suspenseful, controversial, psychological thriller, but the drama I find most terrifying is how easily a person can be persuaded that committing crimes can be for the better good. Our hero does all the wrong things for all the right reasons, so to speak. He is a good man with a loving wife, and thrilled when he becomes a family man. He is no different than any happily married man who wants to help humanity. I found the way the plot shows the passing of time unique and works well. A roller-coaster ride of emotions, the story grabs the reader and takes us on a journey that is surprising, psychologically fascinating, with a final outcome that will shock. Overall, a very good read with interesting resolution.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hide & Seek: a Murder Mystery by Thomas Kaplan-Maxfield

Published by Kepler Press
Reviewed for Review The Book

An interesting telling of this murder mystery, this book is fun, like a game of Clue except we already know who the murderer is, who was murdered, how, why, and where. We know this because it happens very near the beginning of the book. Or do we? Thomas Kaplan-Maxfield has presented an interesting concept in writing this mystery. He has a descriptive way of writing, extending this to the several characters that are introduced later in the book. The reader needs to pay a lot of attention to wording. The mystery is complex, based on jealousy, greed, and unsavory lifestyle.

The story begins with a party hosted by David's Aunt Grace, where he meets a beautiful wraith of a girl, unsubstantial as air yet bewitching and willing. The girl is an actress, and they begin a relationship as mysterious as she is. Totally mesmerized by her, David becomes overcome with jealous thoughts whenever he is not with her. When she is killed, he is overtaken with guilt, grief and loss.

Aunt Grace and Dots, his sister, come up with a brilliant idea for a fascinating weekend... the Murder Mystery game being held on a small island off Cape Cod at an old courthouse converted to a Bed and Breakfast, which adds to the atmosphere of the book. Reluctant at first, he finally agrees to join in the fun. Shortly after arrival, there seems to be something more sinister afoot. David is shocked to find that one of the participants is the actual detective who was investigating the murder of Melanie Carson. Not only that, but when the "corpse", Marilyn Carpenter, is found, she is dressed exactly like Melanie was, right down to her silver blonde hair and Melanie's particular shade of lipstick. Even her nails are done the same. Who is playing mind games with David, and why? Is this a trap? When the roles were given out at the beginning of the game, he was designated as the murderer, his aunt designated as the detective. Who is the real detective? This is what David will have to find out as soon as possible.

Great characterization, a unique variation on the usual cozy murder mystery, surprises all through, psychological suspense and well-written. My attention was held throughout, my guesses all over the place. This book was fun and I'll be watching for more from this author.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mirage by Nancy Gettleman

Published by Nightengale Press

Nancy Gettelman writes with an authenticity and realism I find comforting. It often feels as though she is personally telling me about something she has been doing. Of course, in the case of a murder mystery, that is not what she has been involved in other than trying to figure out "whodunit". The best way to describe this feeling is that parts of every story give me the feeling of familiarity. Exceptional physical descriptions of Milwaukee bring pictures to my mind. An awesome experience and very good writing to involve the reader to such an extent. If Gretchen Meier is typical of the people of Milwaukee, then I would put Milwaukee on my list of cities to visit.

Gretchen is a widow of several years with two grown sons working at a large beer distributorship. She has a very close relationship with her sons, and also with her mother-in-law. Immediately as the reader begins the story, Warren Reuter, the owner of the distributorship, is found dead in bed at his home. Assumed as an insulin overdose accidentally taken by the diabetic Warren himself, it takes a while for the coroner to discover this is not only a murder case, but the weapon and usage is very unusual. Gretchen is not your usual in-your-face nor butting-in-with-the-police type of protagonist, and most of her investigation is done in her thoughts. She thinks everything through thoroughly, she is very human and concerned about the people she suspects. She is also concerned about the fate of her sons, both as suspects and for their future in the business.

Who would have the knowledge and the motive to kill him? He was engaged to a young widow from California who sold her house at his request and moved to Milwaukee; she has a son who works in another town but visits her occasionally. He had recently offered to sell his share of the Green Bay distributorship to Gretchen's two sons, over the objection of his partner. Warren has two estranged sons. Who of these people and others would have a motive to kill him? Someone expecting to benefit from an inheritance? Who would have the special knowledge on how to kill him? Why does Marla, his fiancé, act so strangely? Life is, really, just a mirage. What we see is not necessarily real.

These are the questions that keep Gretchen awake at night and her mind will not leave her alone, especially once her sons become suspect. Enjoying her visits to talk with Warren's lawyer, Stephen Boswell, whom she has known socially for some time, they discover a mutual feeling of romantic interest. When his sister visits, she and Gretchen become fast friends, and Patricia encourages them. As a therapist, Patricia goes with Gretchen to visit Marla, and soon finds that she has a psychological personality disorder that has a bearing on Marla's isolation from the death, and which coincidentally also applies to Warren. She feels that both show signs of being sociopaths.

These are the bare bones of this latest book by Nancy Gettelman, enjoyable, suspenseful, and with psychological intrigue. There is enough in this book to make it part of a series, if the author wishes to. I think the combination of Gretchen, Stephen, and Patricia would make an excellent team for private or amateur investigation. Another intriguing novel for Nancy Gettelman, every one very different, and every one interesting.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lancelot's Lady by Cherish D'Angelo with Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Published by Imajin Books
Review based on e-book version

There are so many people in this world carrying far more baggage than their emotional stability can handle. This fragile yet entertaining story of two such strangers and their journey is a realization that there is life after the death of the soul.

We meet Rhianna, a palliative nurse, orphaned at birth and suffering a series of abuses at the hands of her foster family. She is beautiful, caring, has much love to give, yet burdened with her past. She has been hired to care for an elderly but rich patient with approximately six months to live. Their relationship grows much like that of father and daughter, and as a gift to Rhianna on her birthday, he sends her on a vacation near the Bahamas to Angelina's Island. A vacation that turns out to be more adventurous than relaxing.

Here we meet "Tyler", the reclusive owner of the island and so-called resort, also heavily burdened with secrets from the past, abandonment and betrayal. Their first meeting is definitely not pleasant. His only contact with the outside world is the arrival of his supplies by the captain of a solitary boat a few times a year, and that is how he wants it. Unfortunately, to make room for Rhianna on the supply boat, some boxes had to be left behind. One of these boxes contains the only method to contact anyone in case of emergency, parts to repair the all-important long-range radio telecommunicator, and the boat will not be returning for several weeks.

The story is anything but maudlin, though. It is exciting, fun, irresistible in its telling with both characters feisty and entertaining. The book is both heartwarming and electric. I absolutely loved this book! Cherish D'Angelo aka Cheryl Kaye Tarkif has a knack of inviting the reader into the lives she writes about with such depth, and the locations with such clarity. I am totally immersed in the story.

Jonathan Tyler's wife abandoned him and their very young daughter, Misty, as soon as she learned the child was deaf. Once Rhianna learns of this she offers to teach Misty ASL, which she had learned when tending to one of her patients of the past. Misty is the magnet who draws these two lost souls together as they share the bond of love for this young child. The housekeeper and her husband have already noticed the sexual tension between the two, but what our two main characters assume may be lust, the others see as love. The relationship requires trust, something neither feels confident within themselves to give.

Over their six weeks of isolation and no contact with the outside world many discoveries are made between the two, their perceptions subtly change, and Rhianna reaches a point where she no longer wishes to leave the island. At the same time, she still feels the need to return to her patient JT. Yet, new information comes to light about JT Lance, which threatens the whole relationship, also putting Rhianna in extreme danger. Will there ever be true happiness for either Rhianna or Jonathan? Can the past be mended? Whatever the outcome, the reader can be assured that the story will be captivating.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Under Cover of Night: A Steve Caputo Mystery by Al Gellene

Published by Casterline Press
Reviewed for
Review The Book

The title of this book is decidedly right because this story is from the dark side. Black Ops, murder, disappearances, torture, conspiracy, the whole nine yards. Well-plotted, with surprising links that will draw the reader in quickly. Told from several perspectives, the book is comprehensive in its tightly knit but wide-spread arms. Al Gellene is a lawyer by profession and has chosen the hero for this novel well.

I thought this book was well-written, exposing holes in our perception of right and wrong, history and mystery, truth and justice. If this is indeed a debut novel, probable because of a series-type protagonist, attorney Steve Capuno, I applaud the author. It is surprisingly easy to hide a person or an object in plain sight. It is also much easier to continue in the underbelly of the world than to dip into it and out again.

Following an urgent yet garbled phone call from a patient in a psychiatric hospital, Steve pulls out all the stops at his disposal to be allowed to visit the young lady who has suffered a brain injury. He is told she is completely unreliable, but the woman he meets appears to be bright and though paranoid seems to be making enough sense that he takes down the notes word for word that she speaks. Nonsensical as they seem at the time, still they are spoken as though memorized and clearly mean something very important to her. When she is suspected of committing suicide during that same night, he is suspicious, but no one will believe his suspicions. He receives inside information that makes him pursue his suspicions and is joined in his search to make sense of nonsense by the girl's sister.

I found the inspiration and the clues, unfolding as they did, unique and fascinating. Done in rhyme, the clues are there, but almost impossible to sort out until Marion, the patient's sister, begins to make the connections. With a psychotic killer on the loose who has already killed to locate what is hidden and referred to in the clues, they must beat the devil and get out alive, if possible. Through a surprise ending, and near-death for both Steve and Marion, it appears we may hear more of Steve Caputo in the future. An exciting and fast-moving political and psycho-thriller.