Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Traz - Book I of the Backtracker Series: School Edition by Eileen Schuh

Published by Imajin Books 
Revuewed for Imajin Books
Reviewed from e-book

 Written for older children, tweens and teens to help those in trouble or give options how to avoid trouble in these often emotionally and physically cruel years. Author Eileen Schuh has written this version as a school edition. There is also a regular edition. Every parent should read this book and perhaps even discuss it with their kids. This story is full of the pitfalls that multiply as teens get older, become more street smart and more in need of security and love. Some strong language as can be expected, the language of young people caught up in street life of which drugs and gangs play a large part.

Katrina is very small for her age, and extremely intelligent, actually Mensa certified, a genius at the age of 12. These two points are the root of bullying Katrina, causing her to leave school at this age. An alcoholic mother and a father who is too involved do not help ease the pain and loneliness. Very dark and frightening, how could such an intelligent, sunny little girl get dragged in to this vortex of the dark side? A lesson for all in the early part of the book. As Katrina, or Sarina as she prefers to be called in the world she has entered, loses all the usual types of security, she becomes involved with a motorcycle gang, the Traz, when she accepts a bike ride from a very interesting biker. Who is this man, vying for control of the gang? Why is he so protective of Sarina?

This is a very interesting book from a lot of points of view. Not all dark, there are many characters running the gamut from gentle and caring to pure evil. Traumatized after witnessing an event she can't remember, Katrina/Sarina's story will continue. Excellent characterizations, dialogue, interaction, descriptive settings, the storyline setting up for a series, Eileen Schuh's writing is compelling and encompassing.  Although occasionally I got a slight feeling of disbelief, I also felt this was intentional, a necessity to the plot. I have a feeling there will be a lot brought to light in the future. I am looking forward to reading the second in this very different and exciting series.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Deadly Legacy (A Carmedy & Garrett Mystery) by Alison Bruce

Published by Imajin Books
Reviewed for Imajin Books from 1st edition ebook

An intricate weaving of a celebration of life and the results of sudden death, this book with its intriguing characters is sure to pull the reader in like a whirlpool. With ingenious plotting, prickly relationships, futuristic technology and bodies dropping like flies, Alison Bruce has a knack for descriptive narrative that breathes life right into the scene. The landscape, streets, murder scenes and characters rich and poor, are all clearly established in the mind. Set in the winter of 2018, there is plenty of opportunity the author to play with technological possibilities.

From the opening scene in a cold muddy field with a rookie cop gathering evidence from the drugged vicious rape of a young girl in the hope of saving her life, to the sudden accidental death of Joe Garrett, the very popular retired ex-cop turned private investigator, and coincidentally the father of Kate, the rookie cop who was working in that muddy field, the story appears to go in many directions, but does it really?

It's been a very difficult and emotional day for Kate and there are many decisions for her to make, not the least of which is whether to remain with the police force or to take over her father's business, as his will splits ownership between Kate and Jake Carmedy, Joe's business partner. Unfortunately, Kate and Jake do not get along, but a hidden undercurrent they aren't aware of seems to promise a hot romance in the future. In the meantime Kate is going to have to take over the current case Joe was working on, as well as pursuing the police case of the now declared murdered girl.

Alison Bruce's writing almost takes on a life of its own as it weaves in and out of these relationships and cases. The murdered girl died of prescription drugs, Joe died from a car accident, while following a man for his protection, a man who claimed he had been threatened. But why was this man threatened? It didn't make sense. Yet bodies and coincidences begin to pile up even while both police and family friends are mourning Joe's death.

When do coincidences become conspiracies? Joe's death seems unrelated, but why do the murders appear to have commonalities? The action is rapid-paced, the suspects are many and unusual, and the story is compelling as it gets deeper into the mystery. It all comes down to a perfectly Agatha Christie-esque finish with all suspects in one room. Yet we are left with the question, are Kate and Jake going to be able to put aside their antagonism? Will they? won't they? Can they make this partnership work? With the ultimately odd backdrop of the Santa Claus parade going by, surely anything can happen!