Posted in reviews

The Wine Club by Laurie Lisa Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two friends go down a dangerous path in order to provide for their daughters in author Laurie Lisa’s “The Wine Club”. 

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The Synopsis

Be ready to get hooked, with The Wine Club.

Most people can’t tell a good wine from a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck.

At least that’s what best friends Reggie and Audrey decide one night while celebrating their daughters’ election to the elite Mohave High Tigerette Pom Squad. But cheerleading in Scottsdale Arizona doesn’t come cheap, and both women are strapped for cash and going through a rough patch. Reggie’s husband has announced he’s gay and wants a separation. Audrey’s husband is entering rehab. But what if they could earn money by selling cheap wine in fancy bottles? How hard could it be?

As the housewives perfect their high-stakes con, their greed and mistrust of one another grow…as does the realization that they’ve become a small team of female criminals.

The Wine Club is a witty, wicked tale of crime in the suburbs. With its dark humor, twisted plot, creative use of satire, and female protagonists who turn to a life of crime, this women’s suspenseful crime novel filled with surprising twists and turns is a novel you won’t put down, and one your book club will love.

The Review

A truly fun yet twisted read. Author Laurie Lisa does an excellent job of setting the tone and pace for this novel early on, and blends family drama with corruption and crime thriller incredibly well. The way the author is able to showcase each character’s personal struggles adds depth and background to the cast of characters who help bring this story to life. 

Character growth and story play equal parts in this narrative, with the novel taking readers through twists and turns as this late-night money-making scheme turns into a full-blown crime drama like no other. The shocking twists to each of the women’s families and the growing actions each character finds themselves participating in showcase how greed and power can turn anyone into a completely different person.

The Verdict

Entertaining, witty yet delightfully wicked, author Laurie Lisa’s “The Wine Club” is a must-read crime drama. With a cast of relatable characters and themes such as sexuality, body image, and family becoming key factors in the actions of the two protagonists, readers won’t find themselves lacking any incredible drama to sink their teeth into. With a shocking final chapter, fans won’t want to miss another smash hit from author Laurie Lisa, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Laurie was born and raised in small towns in Southern Illinois. She obtained her B.S. in English Education from the University of Illinois, where she also met and then married her husband Steve. Laurie earned both a M.A. and a Ph.D. in English, 20th-century American Literature, from Arizona State University, where she also taught literature and composition. In addition to her eight novels, Laurie has published two academic books, several short stories and poems, and edited other’s works. After much time spent in Academia and raising her three children (Anthony, Michelle, and Caitlin), Laurie returned to her passion for writing fiction. She is a prolific writer and typically completes one novel each year. Laurie resides with her husband, Steve, in Paradise Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.

https://laurielisa.com/

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https://www.instagram.com/laurieolisa/

Posted in reviews

Payback – Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge by Steve Bassett Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two homicide detectives in the late 40’s find themselves in over their heads when three victims tied to Hitler sympathizers are found with their bodies mutilated, and tensions begin running high both personally and professionally for the detectives in author Steve Bassett’s novel, “Payback – Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge”. 


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The Synopsis

Payback – Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge, the second book of the Passaic River Trilogy, is a drama so intense that it would be improbable anywhere but 1946 Newark. Across the country millions were dealing with the loss of loved ones, and horrible memories were being buried for the greater good. But not in Newark. Two mutilated bodies were pulled from the putrid Passaic River, and the sawed-off arm of a third man was found neatly wrapped and tied at the city dump. The three victims were members of the German-American Bund, Hitler lovers who had to pay the price for supporting a murderous madman. Someone was sending a message that only revenge could clear the mind and free the soul.

It didn’t take long for Police Lieutenant Nick Cisco and his partner, Sergeant Kevin McClosky, two veteran homicide cops [first introduced to readers in “Father Divine’s Bikes” the first book of the Trilogy], to realize they were in over their heads as they grappled with ambition, greed, racial tension, international intrigue, and a powerful church on the take. The three murders could not have come at a worse time for Cisco. His wife, Connie, had left him, and his close-knit Catholic family had disowned him because of his affair with his lover, Grace.

To add to the chaos, Cisco learned that he could have another homicide on his plate. Father Terry Nolan cornered Cisco at the city morgue and demanded his help. The senior counsel for M.L. Kraus, manufacturer of the poisonous gas Zyklon B, and his German wife were severely beating a Catholic orphan they were seeking to adopt. The Archdiocese had weighed Kraus’ huge cash contributions against a helpless girl’s plight and did nothing.

Kraus, facing a host of war crime indictments in Germany, was fighting for its massive pre-war chemical holdings in New Jersey. A federal court in Newark would soon decide Kraus’ fate. The outcome of the case would have a bearing not only on the company’s future, but Europe’s as well. Watching it all from the banks of the Passaic River was the dark specter of a murderous madman seeking further revenge.

The Review

A phenomenal story of grisly murders, tensions from a long fought and gruesome war, and so much more take center stage in this truly wonderful novel. The story echoes the great days of crime fiction and noir style storytelling, highlighting an era of upheaval and change in the United States and around the world in the wake of the Second World War. 

The novel focuses heavily on story through characterization. The book is filled with rich and diverse characters, each bringing their own set of problems and history that enhance the overall story and make the ongoing investigations and actions of other characters have much more emphasis on the overall story. Combined with the theme and genre of the story, this characterization draws the reader in immediately and gets the reader hooked on the action of the novel throughout every chapter. 

The Verdict

This is a must read crime fiction read of 2019. A high octane drama with in-depth character development and edge of your seat thrills, this novel is the perfect winter read for any fan of the crime thriller genre. Those who love the classic noir style storytelling will absolutely love this novel, and despite it being the second novel in a series, the reader will find this novel stands on its own and is easily able to be absorbed. An evenly paced read overall, be sure to grab your copies of “Payback – Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge” by Stephen Bassett today!

Rating: 10/10


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About the Author

Born and raised in Newark’s crime-ridden Third Ward, although far removed during a career as a multiple award-winning journalist, Steve Bassett has always been the proud sobriquet Jersey Guy. He has been legally blind for almost a decade, but having this hasn’t slowed him down.

Bassett has written two nonfiction books, The Battered Rich and Golden Ghetto: How the Americans and French Fell In and Out of Love During the Cold War. Continuing with his newest fiction release, Father Divine’s Bikes (a Finalist in the 2018 International Book Award in the Cross-Genre Fiction category), readers share in his insights that earned him three Emmys for investigative documentaries, and the California Bar Association’s first Medallion Award for Distinguished Reporting on the Administration of Justice. He now resides in Placitas, New Mexico with his wife, Darlene.

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Posted in reviews

An Unsettled Grave (A Santero and Rein Thriller #2) by Bernard Schaffer Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

After hunting down a demented killer, a newly appointed detective finds herself delving into a decades old cold case filled with haunting secrets, and discovers a shocking connection to her mentor in author Bernard Schaffer’s novel, “An Unsettled Grave”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

In this brilliantly chilling follow-up to The Thief of All Light, veteran police officer Bernard Schaffer digs deep into the past–and the haunted psyches of the detectives who search for truth . . . at any cost.

“There’s a thousand scavengers in these woods.”

Before being promoted to detective, Carrie Santero was given a rare glimpse into the mind of a killer. Through her mentor, Jacob Rein–a seasoned manhunter whose gift for plumbing the depths of madness nearly drove him over the brink–she was able to help capture one of the most depraved serial killers in the country. Now, the discovery of a small human foot buried in the Pennsylvania woods will lead her to a decades-old cold case–and the darkest secrets of her mentor’s youth.

“Nobody trusts an animal that tries to eat its own kind.”

Thirty years ago, a young girl went missing. A police officer was murdered. Another committed suicide. The lives of everyone involved would never be the same. For three agonizing decades, Jacob Rein has yearned for the truth. But when Detective Carrie Santero begins digging up new evidence, she discovers some answers come with shattering consequences.

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The Review

This is the perfect follow up to the series began in The Thief of All Light. Author Bernard Schaffer continues to bring his expertise in the field of criminal investigation to bring a sense of realism and relatability to the genre, while still providing an engaging and entertaining thriller like no other. Detective Santero shines through in this story, providing a more confident and seasoned investigative mind to the case while still showing her honest and no nonsense personality that allows her to showcase her strength as a protagonist in this tale.

Yet it is the shocking connection to seasoned detective and Carrie’s mentor Rein that makes this story shine, as readers are given a rare glimpse into the history of Jacob Rein and the events that made him into the brilliant detective that he is. A case from his past highlights the events that led to his descent into darkness, swimming amongst the monsters of this world in order to capture them. Jumping between the past and the present makes this story feel more personal and intimate of a story than the first book, cementing the protagonists Santero and Rein as true thriller heroes that are here to stay.

The Verdict

This is a must read summer 2019 thriller. With the book’s release due in July of 2019, the fans who fell in love with Santero and Rein will be thrilled to watch this story unfold. Filled with heart and emotion, humor and brutal honesty, and a story that feels both cinematic and real all at once, this is the perfect read for anyone who loves the thriller genre, and leaves readers eager for a third book in this exciting and developing series. If you haven’t yet, pre-order your copy now or grab your copy of An Unsettled Grave by Bernard Schaffer on July 30th, 2019. 

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Bernard Schaffer is the author of the Santero and Rein Thriller Series from Kensington Publications. 

Prior to that, he published multiple titles in a variety of genres as an independent author. Schaffer is the father of two children and a full-time police detective in Southeastern PA.

Visit him @BernardSchaffer or www.bernardschaffer.com.

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Social Media Links

Bernard Schaffer’s Facebook Author Page 

Bernard Schaffer’s Goodreads Page

Bernard Schaffer’s BookBub Page

Website: www.BernardSchaffer.com

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Twitter: @BernardSchaffer

Posted in reviews

Written in Blood by Layton Green Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A cop seeking a life of relative peace by taking a job in his former hometown in North Carolina finds horror when a gruesome murder teases the arrival of a serial killer in author Layton Green’s “Written in Blood”. Here is the synopsis. 

The Synopsis 

Detective Joe “Preach” Everson, a prison chaplain turned police officer, is coming home. After a decade tracking down killers in Atlanta, and with a reputation as one of the finest homicide detectives in the city, his career derailed when he suffered a mental breakdown during the investigation of a serial killer who was targeting children. 

No sooner does Preach arrive at home in Creekville, North Carolina–a bohemian community near Chapel Hill–than a local bookstore owner is brutally killed, the first murder in a decade. The only officer with homicide experience, Preach is assigned to the case and makes a shocking discovery: the bookstore owner has been murdered in exactly the same manner as the pawnbroker in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. 

With the help of Ariana Hale, a law student and bibliophile who knew the victim, Preach investigates the local writer’s community. As their questions increase, a second body is found, this time eerily resembling the crime scene in a famous Edgar Allan Poe novella. Preach and Ariana realize that their adversary is an intelligent, literate killer with a mind as devious as it is disturbed–and one or both of them may be his next target.

The Review

The author has truly captured the serial killer thriller and classic “whodunnit” storytelling theme that has defined crime thrillers. The emergence of a disturbed serial killer with a penchant for literary based crime scenes immediately grips readers in a tight embrace as the investigation takes twists and turns the reader will never see coming. 

While the characters really provided the insight and emotion of the investigation, it was the setting that really captivated me in this story. As I lived in North Carolina for a number of years, not only did I feel personally connected to the location of the story, but the concept of a small town harboring the same level of deceit, crime and seedy underbelly that one would normally expect in a large city was truly fascinating to play out. We see this often in the novel reflected in the protagonist, as Preach sees the hard hitting criminal underworld setting he thought he left behind show itself throughout the investigation inside this seemingly peaceful small town, something many people are beginning to see in our world today.

The Verdict

This was a truly captivating read. Heart-pounding action and shocking character twists that will leave readers hanging off of the author’s every word, this is a must read novel in the crime thriller genre. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of the novel “Written in Blood” by Layton Green today. 

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Layton is a bestselling author who writes across multiple genres, including mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, and fantasy. He is the author of the popular Dominic Grey series, as well as other works of fiction. His novels have topped numerous lists (including a #2 overall Amazon bestseller) and have been nominated for major awards, including two finalists for an International Thriller Writers award. Layton is also the co-editor of International Thrills, the online magazine of ITW (International Thriller Writers).

In addition to writing, Layton attended law school in New Orleans and was a practicing attorney for the better part of a decade (even though he still resents having cut his hair for that first interview). He has also been an intern for the United Nations, an ESL teacher in Central America, a bartender in London, a seller of cheap knives on the streets of Brixton, a door-to-door phone book deliverer in Florida, and the list goes downhill from there. Currently based in Durham, North Carolina, Layton has traveled to more than sixty countries, lived in a number of them, and has a burning desire to see every country, city, beach, moor, castle, cemetery, twisted street and far flung dot on the map.

www.laytongreen.com

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Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author N. Lombardi Jr.

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Born and raised in New York City, I left to see the world at age 24 as a water engineer in the Peace Corps. For most of my life, I had never entertained the idea of becoming an author. My career as a groundwater specialist kept me busy enough, filled with both adventure and satisfaction with my job. However, while in Kenya I fell in love with a woman, and this relationship was doomed from the start. As a kind of catharsis, I began to write a semi-autobiographical story which became Journey Towards a Falling Sun. As I said, it was the need to purge my emotions that drove me, without immediate plans for publishing, as I was in the prime of life as regards to my vocation. But in 1985, I did manage to get an agent who was very enthusiastic over the manuscript. After fifteen rejections by big publishing houses, however, I gave up and shelved it, abandoning any thoughts about being a writer. It wasn’t published until 30 years later.

In 1996, while working in Laos, I learned of the secret war that the US conducted for 9 years, and resulted in the aerial bombardment that has given that country the dubious distinction of being the most heavily bombed country of all time. As an American, I was ashamed of my ignorance of this matter, for I had never known of this secret war. I was so moved, I decided I would write an epic novel that would illustrate the consequences of that war which became The Plain of Jars, released in 2013. And from there my path as a writer began.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

The idea for Justice Gone came from a true incident – the fatal beating of a homeless man in California. It was such an outrageous act, recorded on video and uploaded to YouTube, that I wondered what would happen if someone who saw the gruesome video would mete out their own version of justice to the police officers involved.

The novel then, is a tale of what happens in a small town following the fatal beating of a homeless Iraqi war vet at the hands of police. A cascading series of events, from street protests to a vigilante shooting of three police officers leads to a multi-state manhunt for the vet’s war time buddy. A controversial trial attracting nationwide attention dominates the second half of the novel. The story ends with a twist revealing the identity of the cop-killer

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Although deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers disturb me, I tried to avoid taking too strong a stand against the police, and just presented a possible (albeit extreme) scenario if this issue is not addressed. I also wanted readers to have a detailed look at the legal system in the US, i.e. the importance of lawyer tactics on both sides of the bench and of jury sentiment in deciding a case.

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4) What drew you into this particular genre?

First of all, I don’t consider myself a genre writer, I just write about things that move me. Having said that, as a reader I do enjoy mystery/thriller/suspense/crime, so I may be writing more of this kind of fiction from now on. It is much easier to write this sort of stuff than cross-cultural adventure novels such as my first two books, The Plain of Jars, set in Laos, and Journey Towards a Falling Sun, set in Kenya.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would have to say, the policemen that beat Jay Felson to death – Why, when he was unarmed, did it take 6 cops to bring him down and beat him till he died?

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I’m really not active in the social media scene, so I would have to say Goodreads, despite the fact I find Goodreads a bit exploitive and disdainful of independent authors. As a reader, it is pretty good. I tried Facebook, but it isn’t focused enough and being an old fart, I’m mistrustful of Twitter. I love book bloggers, thank god for them!

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Although it sounds cliché, the first thing is to write well. Many independent authors, particularly those who self-publish, write with a quality barely above a high school student. You don’t have to be a wordsmith, but the book should not sound stilted. Read passages from a book by an acclaimed author than read your stuff. How does it compare?

Secondly, unless you’re with a big publishing house, be prepared to market your work. You should have a budget of $2,000 for this, even if you are very active on social media, because it’s always better for someone else to tout your book than you as the author. That means reviews, which can only result from exposure.

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8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m in the process of fine-tuning another Tessa Thorpe novel, Woman in the Shadow. It takes place several years prior to the setting of Justice Gone, and is considerably darker, more of a psychological/suspense thriller. I actually wrote this before Justice Gone, but I was disappointed with the publisher’s reaction to it so I shelved it. Directly related to this, I’m looking for another publisher, so I hope it doesn’t take too long for the book to come out.

Posted in reviews

The Case Files of Doctor Arthur Lyons: Medical Examiner (Book Volume Book 1) by Dr. William Anderson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Dr. William Anderson dives head first into the complex world of medical examiners and the far too often injustices that our legal system fails to recognize or get justice for in the medical/crime drama, “The Case Files of Doctor Arthur Lyons: Medical Examiner (Volume Book 1). Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

There was a day in the early times of the invention of the medical examiner where this esteemed doctor and pathologist held the job of declaring people dead. Nowadays it is much different. Not only does he affirm time of death, he is involved with the entire community of law enforcement officials, their politics, as well as the many different agendas they hold. 

The cases of Dr. Lyons will shows you the different hats a medical examiner must wear during a single case on the street, in his office, and in the court room. 

The Review

This was one of the most interesting, gripping and intense medical crime thrillers I’ve read in a while. Instead of focusing on a single case, the author does a brilliant job of highlighting the failure of law enforcement and state medical examiners to properly investigate the deaths of individuals who have had no justice done in their investigations. These three cases seem to mirror real life events, or at least speak to the current injustices we see plastered over the internet in this day and age.

In a time where racial violence is on the rise and distrust between people and the police is more and more evident, the author does a marvelous job bringing these issues into the novel. The cases are presented in a clear and concise way, with the author’s medical knowledge showing in every passage. The detail that goes into the examinations of the victims and the detailed account of what each finding means in regards to the victim’s death is fascinating to see unfold, and readers will be left breathless and on the edge of their seat as the investigations unravel before their eyes.

The Verdict

This is a must read novel! Filled with elements of thrillers, mysteries, and detailed medical forensics that give this novel an air of authenticity that few other medical/crime thrillers have, author Dr. William Anderson has created a remarkable novel filled with three heart-pounding tales that will fascinate, enrage and engage readers on multiple levels. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy of The Case Files of Doctor Arthur Lyons: Medical Examiner (Volume Book 1) today!

Rating: 10/10

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Posted in reviews

The Bagman’s Buddies by Josh Holliday Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Corrupt politicians and a massive FBI operation bring author Josh Holliday’s novel The Bagman’s Buddies to life in a thrilling investigation like no other. Here is the synopsis:

This book recounts the likely events and explosive encounters that happened in the nightime as well as the day time during a ‘Sting’ Operation against Tennessee legislators and Senators.

Some plead guilty and some took it to trial and were found guilty. Most of them squirmed trying to get out of it before it went down.

Complete with many Color Images to portray the events.

The investigation and subsequent book written here delves into the realm of political thriller and crime drama, showing the corruption and power struggle within the Tennessee government. The book starts off with a literal bang, showing the dark depths these government officials are willing to go to in order to cover up their deceptions, and by book’s end readers will see who cooperated, who tried to slink away and who stayed to fight to bring this corruption to light. Based on true stories of an actual sting operation in the area, the author does a great job exploring the various aspects of the investigation and those involved, from the undercover agents working as the infamous “bagmen” to the surveillance crew, the victims who found themselves double crossed and the Senators themselves.

The only advice or criticism I would offer for the author would be separating dialogue from the other paragraphs and implementing quotations. This addition can help the story flow more freely and naturally. Other than that the book was well written and told the story well. The use of visuals highlighted the investigation perfectly, creating a natural flow to the story that doesn’t always translate in other books.

Overall this was an amazing read. Filled with humor, relatable characters and a fascinating political thriller that will have readers eager to dive into the case this novel is based on. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Josh Holliday’s The Bagman’s Buddies today!

Rating: 8/10

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-bagmans-buddies-josh-holliday/1129597519?ean=2940156096831

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FOX’s Gotham Pilot Preview

One of falls most anticipated new shows has definitely got to be FOX’s Gotham. Having recently been given a special screening of the show’s highly anticipated pilot, we were delighted to see the great story that unfolded and showcased the direction the show would take fans. Exploring the formative years before Batman started saving lives in Gotham, the show follows new police detective James Gordon, played by the incredibly talented Ben Mackenzie, and his journey into exploring the dark underbelly of the corrupt city of Gotham. After the tragic murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne, Gordon and his partner, Harvey Bullock, played by Donal Logue, begin traversing the crime ridden city, uncovering clues to the killer’s identity and turning over stones that may be better left unturned. Organized mobsters, corrupt police and city officials, and a city where the corrupt thrive and the innocent submit or die, Gotham is a gritty crime drama that is a mixture of old school noir and true to form comic book storytelling. The drama also does a fantastic job of introducing some of Gotham’s most notorious villains and vigilantes before they became said villains and vigilantes. Gotham premieres Monday, September 22nd, 2014 on FOX!