The Hit By David Baldacci

The Hit by David Baldacci

 

 

 

 

 

 

I.  Murder Book Summary:

When people are murdered, there usually is a clear cut reason for taking the life.  Money, sex, and power are the familiar reasons.  Even serial murderers will fall somewhere within the boundaries of these motives (usually it’s about having power over the victim). 

So, why was Doug Jacobs killed?  His murder appeared to make absolutely no sense what-so-ever. 

And the irony of his killing was that he was responsible for assigning and “handling” top-level assassins to eliminate America’s enemies. 

Needless to say “The Agency” that employed him was baffled when Mr. Jacobs was shot dead by one of his own hired killers. 

Suspicion falls on Jessica Reel, one of The Agency’s top assassins.  After all, Jacobs was her handler and he was shot while overseeing an assignment that Reel was supposed to have fulfilled. 

The only female assassin The Agency employs, Reel is considered excellent in her craft.  Extremely intelligent, she’s incredibly fit, an expert in martial arts, and a crack shot.

Because Jessica Reel is so competent in her field, The Agency’s number 2 man, Jim Gelder assigns the very best killer they have;  Will Robie.

The mission:  to find and bring to close, any and all activities of one, Jessica Reel. 

The meaning is clear.  Jim Gelder wants Reel terminated, and to hell with the motivation behind her actions. 

Unfortunately, even The Agency’s number 2 man isn’t safe from Jessica Reel’s special brand of justice.  Jim Gelder will not live long enough to see Will Robie carry out his mission.

Not that Robie’s success on this mission is assured.  Will Robie is a man with issues.  He’s a killer with a conscience.  There are people in his life that he deeply cares about.

People like Special Agent Nicole Vance of the FBI, and a 14 year old, sharp-tongued orphan name Julie Getty.  Robie met both of these ladies during a previous assignment and became attached.

At best, such attachments can be distracting.  At worst, such attachments can be down right dangerous for all the parties involved.

To complicated matters, there is something “fishy” about the entire affair.  Professional assassins are not easily “turned” and Jessica Reel is one of the best in the business. 

She may be as good as Robie himself, and she appears not to be cursed with any of Robies “weaknesses”. 

She comes from a dysfunctional family, and doesn’t seem to have any friends or ties to the “normal” world. 

Then again, we all know that appearances can be very deceptive. 

The hits on Jacobs and Gelder seem almost…well…personal!!

What could possibly provoke a seasoned professional like Reel to turn on her own kind and start murdering them?

Will Robie needs to tread lightly here.  His natural curiosity and reluctance to end Reel’s activities “with extreme prejudice” could lead to his undoing. 

There are powerful forces that have a vested interest in silencing Jessica Reel.  And those forces will silence Robie as well if he becomes too inquisitive.

His new found compassion for others could get him killed.

II.               Murder Book Judgment

When I read a David Baldacci thriller book, I am always

impressed by his knowledge of the Washington scene.  I always

feel that I’m right there hovering over the shoulders of the

“movers and shakers” that get things done. 

I know what you’re thinking.  Does anyone ever get anything

done in Washington today?  Well, I think that depends on which crowd you’re talking about.

If you’re talking about the Congress, then you have good reason to be skeptical.   

And yet, I do believe that there are backrooms where secret deals are made, and vast sums of money and other resources are transferred from one place to another.  And yes, I do believe that in some of those secret rooms, plans to eliminate the enemies of the state are formed and stamped for approval.

Apparently so does David Baldacci.  And that is why his thrillers are so believable.

I think the really great thriller novels and political espionage tales are sprinkled with the grains of truth.  And I’d say that millions of Baldacci fans would agree with me.  That is why his novels are so immensely popular.

And this book is no different.

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

J.D. Robb’s “Delusion in Death”

J.D. Robb's Delusion In Death

J.D. Robb’s Delusion In Death

Publisher:  The Penguin Group

Copyright:  2012

ISBN:  978-1-62090-319-3

22 Chapters: 624 Pages

 

I.  Murder Book Summary

NYPSD’s lead homicide detective, Eve Dallas has encountered every kind murder imaginable.  She’s seen a limo driver shot through the neck with a crossbow, and a prostitute slashed and mutilated “Jack the Ripper” style.

It takes a lot to get past her stoic demeanor.  And yet, standing in the middle of the slaughterhouse that used to be the “On the Rocks” club, even Dallas is dismayed.

These victims are not just murdered.  They are massacred.  There are corpses with skulls and faces smashed in.  Some of the victims have had their eyes gouged out and their throats cut.

The club itself is a shamble of broken furniture and glass, with blood and gore everywhere.  The place looks like a riot had taken place inside its walls.

Most puzzling to Dallas and her loyal partner, Detective Delia Peabody is that the victims appear to have slaughtered each other.  But why?  What’s even stranger is that the patrons of “On the Rocks” knew and worked with each other in the surrounding lower East Side neighborhood.

 In fact, many of the victims knew their party companions intimately.  For example Marcie Snyder was enjoying an after work “happy hour” with her boyfriend, her BFF, and another male friend.  Suddenly, for no apparent reason, Marcie stabs her boyfriend in the eye with a dinner fork.  Then all hell breaks loose as bottles and chairs begin to fly through the air as patrons begin hacking and murdering their companions and the club staff.

The few survivors who can communicate say that they attacked their fellow patrons because they felt that they were being attacked by THEM.  All of the survivors report that before the attacks they began suffering from a splitting headache, followed by extreme feelings of anger.  A few moments later they saw their companions turn into “monsters” before their very eyes.  What???

During the course of the ensuing investigation, the dead, and survivors were found to have traces of a combination of chemicals in their body cavities (nasal, mouth, and throat).  The skin was also found to have traces of this unknown substance.  It is suspected that this lethal cocktail was the cause of the feelings of rage and the hallucinations that preceded the violence. 

It is believed that the deadly substance was deliberately released into the air and the unsuspecting victims breathed it in.

And this begs the question…why would anyone willfully release a toxic substance into a room filled with innocent people? 

Was this an act of terrorism?  If so then why has no group or an individual claimed credit for the act? 

Does the killer know these club patrons?  Does he or she have some kind of personal gripe against them? 

It is the opinion of NYPSD resident psychologist Dr. Charlotte Mira that the perpetrator is someone who enjoys playing God and loves manipulating others.  This person or persons has an intimate knowledge of the club, its employees, and of course, it’s patrons. 

Money and sexual gain would not be an issue for this kind of killer.

Are we talking about some kind of religious cult?

Complicating the issue is the fact that this particular club belongs to Dallas’ mega-wealthy husband, Roarke.  Is there a connection here?  Perhaps this is some kind of vendetta against Roarke.   

While Eve and her NYPSD crew ponder over these possibilities, the unthinkable occurs. 

There’s another incident, this time at the Café’ West restaurant.  Lydia McMeara is having lunch with her friends and co-workers Cellie and Brenda.  Suddenly, for no apparently reason, she’s overwhelmed with feelings of jealousy and rage against her friends.  She’s also feeling the mother of migraines coming on. 

She gets up and stomps out of the Café’ West in fury.  Once outside she begins feeling better, but her friends and the rest of the restaurant’s patrons are not so lucky.   

Forty-four people are dead and the scene looks like a war zone. 

All of the patrons work in the same downtown Manhattan area and most know each other. 

At this point Eve Dallas hasn’t a clue as to who’s responsible for these horrible murders.  But she does know one thing:  if she doesn’t figure this murder mystery out pretty soon, more “happy” party goers will die.

Murder Book Judgment:

I’ve been reading J.D. Robb’s work since the first of the series, “Naked in Death”. 

She always manages to weave today’s headlines into tomorrow’s reality. That just goes to show you that no matter how far our technology advances, we humans still remain basically the same.

Selfishness, greed and insanity still plague the ultra-modern world of the mid twenty-first century.  

Normally I do not like it when authors clue us in on the identity of the killer(s) before the end.  I like figuring things out for myself, if possible.  The second half of this book deals with the investigation that finally brings the known killer to justice.  So there is no big mystery in this thriller.

But, Robb gives us a big surprise toward the very end.  She pulled a big one out of the hat and I can honestly say I didn’t see this one coming.  Good for her!

If you’d like to know more about J.D. Robb, you can read the page that I’ve set up for that purpose.  Or, you can go to her website at J.D. Robb.com

 

 

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gus Pelagatti’s “The Wicked Wives”

Gus Pelagatti's The Wicked Wives

Gus Pelagatti’s The Wicked Wives

Publisher:  Mill City Press

Copyright:  2008, 2011

ISBN:  978-1-936780-63-1

46 Chapters; 292 pages

 

I.  Murder Book Summary

It’s 1937 and Giorgio DiSipio is having the time of his life.  He’s married to a disabled woman but that isn’t stopping him from having all the wild, crazy sex he could ever hope for.

He’s the owner of a tailor shop in South Philadelphia, but that’s not the source of his considerable wealth.  He’s a small-time gangster, but he doesn’t need the local “rackets” to pad his growing bank account.

You see, Mr. DiSipio has a secret “racket” all his own.  It’s a highly profitable and murderous scam that is steadily making him and his “partners” a small fortune.

Giorgio is a self-styled “ladies man” with a taste for unhappily married women.  His “partners” are in fact, a small army of disgruntled women who have taken out phony life insurance policies in their husband’s names.

Later, the trusting husbands begin dying off tragically and mysteriously.  Their deaths would leave the “grieving” widows (and Giorgio) healthy, wealthy, but not very wise.

Not wise?  Well, of course you know what they say about “the best laid plans of mice and men”?

When Lillian Stoner’s husband Reggie falls ill and dies, his mother Nancy Stoner demands an autopsy.  This is the very last thing the “bereaved” Lillian desires.

Lillian is more than your average murderer.  She is a force to be reckoned with and has a powerful ally in Deputy Mayor Bill Evans.  Deputy Mayor Evans is willing to do whatever is necessary to see to it that an autopsy never happens.

But Nancy Stoner has powerful allies of her own.  The most dedicated of these is Tom Rossi, Assistant District Attorney.  Rossi believes that Reggie Stoner’s death is suspicious enough to warrant an immediate investigation.

And that is how this hot, sexy, crime thriller begins.  In most good murder books, the motive is usually greed, spiced with a little illicit lust.  This crime drama delivers both in spades.

The book is based on the true story of the 1938 Philadelphia murder Scandals.  This fast-paced novel quickly captivated me within the first 4 pages and held my attention for most of its 46 chapters.

Husbands are dropping like flies while Tom Rossi and his men are running around Philadelphia searching for elusive clues.  It seems like Deputy Mayor Bill Evans influence is everywhere, even in the coroner’s office.

Pelagatti’s work runs the gauntlet of all the negative human emotions you can think of.  It has greed, lies, political corruption, and some of the most treacherous and deceitful behavior ever perpetrated upon a spouse.

But there are many admiral human qualities here as well.

Most noteworthy is Rossi’s bravery and uncompromising determination to get to the truth and bring the killers to justice.  Unfortunately for Rossi, it might cost him his career and the love of a woman he cares about.

Please don’t think that this story, which takes place during the low-tech depression era, will not feel relevant in today’s world.  After all, not much has changed in the course of 75 years.

There are still people out there in the “new” millennium that will do absolutely anything for money.

This is Gus Pelagatti’s first novel.  If you ask me I think he’s off to a very good start.  Hopefully it will not be his last.

If you’d like to know more about Gus Pelagatti, you can go to the page that I’ve created for that purpose.  You can also reach him at the Gus Pelagatti home page.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kathy Reichs “Bones Are Forever”

Kathy Reichs Bones Are Forever

Kathy Reichs Bones Are Forever

 

Publisher:  Scribner; a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc

Copyright:  2012

ISBN:  978-1-4391-0243-5

40 Chapters; 283 pages

 

I.  Murder Book Summary

27 year old Amy Roberts is a young woman with many names and many problems.  She has been known at various times as Alma Rogers, Alva Rodriguez, and Annaliese Ruben.  She seems to have a passion for romantic types of names and changes them often.

Recently Amy mysteriously showed up at The Hospital Honore’-Mercier, in Montreal, complaining of vaginal bleeding.  She appeared to be very disoriented and confused.  Upon examination, doctors suspected she may have given birth recently.

She had no identification on her person, and just as mysteriously as she appeared, she vanished without further treatment.

Suspecting that something is amiss, hospital personnel notify the police.  The first time the police officer visits Amy’s apartment, there is no response to his knock.  The officer leaves the scene.

A return visit reveals a disturbing find:  bloody towels in a dumpster outside Amy’s apartment.  The police request a warrant to enter her home.

Forensic anthropologist, Temperance Brennan is deployed by her superiors to assist in the investigation.  Brennan’s specialty is “decomposed, burned, mummified, dismembered and skeletal human remains”.

Obviously, someone at the Montreal police department is expecting the worst.  And the worst is about to be discovered.

What is found in that dingy, fetid, apartment would chill the blood of even the most seasoned law-enforcement professionals.

Inside the bathroom vanity a baby’s corpse in fetal position is found.  It is “barely recognizable as human”, and covered with maggots.

It will later be determined that this infant could have lived between 13 and 15 hours after birth before expiring.  Obviously, it suffered.

But the horrors in that dirty apartment are just beginning.

A second dead infant is found…wrapped in a dried, bloody, yellow terry cloth towel.  The infant is stuffed in the dark interior of a window wall.

Alarmed, the police call in a cadaver dog unit.  In a walk-in closet, behind a vent on the ceiling, another infant is found stuffed inside a pouch.

The three dead babies and a missing mother leave Temperance Brennan and Lieutenant Detective Andrew Ryan with more questions than answers.

Who exactly is Amy Roberts?  No one in Montreal seems to know.  Upon further investigation it is found that she had visited The Hospital Honore’-Mercier months earlier complaining of similar symptoms.

She moved into her grimy apartment about 3 years ago with an equally mysterious man known only as “Smith”.  She paid her rent with cash.  Only one person in the neighborhood remembered seeing her coming and going.

She had a “boyfriend” named Ralph “Rocky” Trees.  He wasn’t exactly a fountain of information either.  He knew her as Alva Rodriguez and last saw her about 2 weeks prior to her disappearance.  A long-haul trucker, his relationship with Rodriguez could certainly be described as loose.

Most importantly, although he’s known her for about 2 or 3 years, he denies ever seeing her pregnant.

At this point the plot really begins to thicken.

Oliver Isaac Hasty, Sergeant, of The Royal Canadian Mounted Police stationed in Edmonton, arrives in Montreal to serve an outstanding arrest warrant for Amy Roberts.  It is established that she is also known as Annaliese Ruben.

Annaliese was working as an Edmonton prostitute until about 3 years ago when she vanished without a trace.  At the time of her disappearance, a serial killer was operating in the Edmonton area.  Concern for her welfare leads police to place her in the “Project Kare” (High Risk Missing Persons) database.

The search for the missing Annaliese leads Temperance Brennan, Andrew Ryan, and Oliver Hasty back to Edmonton where they grill Edmonton prostitute Susan Forex regarding Annaliese’s whereabouts.

Forex may be in a position to know where Annaliese is hiding.  After all it was she who allowed the missing woman to stay in her home years ago when Annaliese was working the Edmonton streets.

Later, Forex reported her missing…4 months after the lady disappeared.

It was to Forex’s apartment that police suspect Annaliese may have fled to after leaving Montreal.

Forex may have some explaining to do of her own.  After pursuing Annaliese to Edmonton, the skeletal remains of a 4th infant are found in Susan Forex’s home.

The elusive Miss Ruben is certainly leading Brennan, Ryan and Hasty on a merry chase.  She next surfaces in the small town of Yellowknife, near the Artic circle in the Northwest Territories.  This is where she is from originally.

For a small town, there certainly is a lot going on in Yellowknife.

We have Ronnie “Scar” Scarborough, an Edmonton pimp, trying to muscle in on a surprisingly vibrant Yellowknife drug trade.  Ronnie was Annaliese’s pimp in the bad old days at Edmonton.  He is also an original Yellowknife resident with a violent temper and is know to brutalize his women.

Yellowknife also sports an environmentalist movement and surprisingly enough, diamond mines in the surrounding area.  Diamond mines…?

And all this activity seems to revolve around this young woman who may be responsible for the gristly crime on infanticide.

II. Murder Book Judgment:

I find that books that rely heavily on forensic procedures aren’t holding my interest as they once did.  I guess it’s just me but, it seems that there is a lot of “stuff” to have to sift through when dealing with forensics.  Frankly, a lot of this “stuff” sometimes fails to really “grab” me and hold my attention.

I also find myself getting a little “lost” when you have plots with lots of little sub-plots:  like murdered infants, potential drug deals, diamond mines, etc.

So, I tended to focus on the part of the novel that really interested me.  That would be the murdered children.  And that led to all kinds of doubts and questions.

I began to doubt if Annaliese really was a serial baby killer.  That doubt kept rattling around inside my head as I read.  It was difficult for me to believe that this woman was a murderer.  You’ll find out why, if you read this book.

So, perhaps she’s not the killer.  Is someone else involved?  She was certainly surrounded by all kinds of sleazy characters.   Has she been influenced in some un-godly fashion?  And how has she managed to remain one step ahead of Temperance Brennan and her partners?

Something is just way off about all this.  Kathy Reichs constructs the novel so that Temperance and the reader know that all is not as it appears.  And if you’re like me, you want to see if you can guess what it is.

Trust me, that’s not going to happen until Reichs finally ties all the loose ends together in a “ah-ha” moment in the final chapters.

Yes, the gang-style slayings, baby-killings and diamond mines do come together.  All I can say is you‘ll probably be as surprised as I was.

If you’d like to know more about Kathy Reichs just follow the link

Or you can visit her at the official Kathy Reichs website.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kathy Reichs and Guatine (Gus) Pelagatti

My problem as a book reviewer has always been that I’m so darn slow as a reader.

That has become an especially difficult problem to deal with this past holiday season coupled with a huge computer failure and a sudden and inconvenient change of address.

So, how have I decided to handle the current difficulties?

By taking massive action (for me) and reading and reviewing 2 books at the same time!

My first project for the New Year is Kathy Reichs “Bones Are Forever”.  The Lady whose work has inspired the FOX TV series “Bones” closed 2012 with this tale of infanticide on steroids.

But is it really infanticide?  For those of you who haven’t read this work yet, I’m not telling!  But I can say that it’s well worth the trouble to find out.

My second project is Gus Pelagatti’s “The Wicked Wives”.  Gus is a trial attorney with over 40 years of experience in that field.

The Wicked Wives” is his first novel and I can tell you he writes his talk!  The book is based on the true story of the 1938 “Philadelphia Insurance Scam Murders”.

Of course I can’t reveal the “surprise” ending, but I will definitely give you a complete synopsis and my humble opinion in the very near future.  Just hang in and bare with “the slow-poke”.  I promise it will be worth the wait.

Well, back to the trenches.

Reg

Posted in Blogger's Comments | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merry Christmas, Alex Cross By James Patterson

Merry Christmas, Alex Cross by James Patterson

 

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Copyright: 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-21068-3

Hard cover edition, 109 chapters; 323 pages

There is an old-school movie that some of you may remember entitled “Death Takes A Holiday, starring Fredric March.  Released in 1934, it is about “Death” who decides to assume human form, take a 3 day break and mingle with us poor, frightened mortals.

In Merry Christmas, Alex Cross, ace detective Alex wishes that crime would take a holiday, so that he (Alex) can “mingle” with his family.

But then, crime is no respecter of holidays, detectives, or their families.  If anything, crime reared its ugly head with greater intensity in this James Patterson thriller.

And with that increase, came the pressure.  There was the urgency to stop the crime spree and the pressure from loving family members to not answer the cell phone.  And with that pressure the emotional conflict follows.

Conflicting loyalties are a way of life for Alex Cross.  His wife, Bree reminds him that he has a grandmother who cries when he goes out on a case.  His colleagues with the Maryland PD and the FBI remind him that crime is always on call and no one does what he does better than he.

The Cross household dreads when that phone rings.  Alex isn’t exactly overjoyed to hear those ring tones either.

December 24, 2012, Christmas Eve:  Henry Fowler was once a high-powered attorney.  He had it all!  He had the trophy wife, the beautiful home, kids, car, and money for fabulous vacations.   Then suddenly he lost everything.  He began drinking and drugging.

His wife divorces him and re-marries Dr. Barry Nicholson, a successful optometrist and family “friend”.

Henry Fowler, now a drug-crazed lunatic, is holding his ex-wife, her new husband, a U.S. Congressman’s wife and his own children hostage.  He’s armed and seems to be almost enjoying himself, “laughing like a happy madman”.

At the Cross household, Alex is enjoying some rare family time with his wife Bree, grandmother (Nana Mama) and the kids.  There’s eggnog, and Christmas cookies. Nat King Cole and Mariah Carey are on the radio.  Oh is well.

Then the dreaded cell starts ringing.  Of course he must respond.  It’s what he is, and what he does.  Bree and the family understand…sort of.

Then he’s gone.

December 25, 2012, Christmas Day:  The D.C. area is covered with almost 2 feet of snow.  While an exhausted Alex Cross is having dinner with his wife, Nana Mama, and his children, Hala Al Dossari (aka Julia Azizz) exits a cab at Union Station, just north of Capitol Hill.

A Saudi national, Hala is brilliant, beautiful, and deadly.  A member of Al Ayla (The Family), she is willing to die for the cause of Jihad.  Her specialty is mass poisoning.

She knows that she probably has been spotted and recognized by apprehensive eyes behind the numerous security cameras.  She takes pleasure in the thought.

Meanwhile, Alex Cross takes pleasure in the glow of family love on Christmas Day.  Suddenly his cell phone begins it’s shrill, annoying, persistent ringing.  The tension becomes so thick you can almost cut it with one of Nana Mama’s kitchen knives.

The caller ID is blank but Alex knows who it is…He has to go again.

Murder Book Judgment:  I found this James Patterson crime drama to be a very good, fast moving read with content right out of today’s headlines.  There is the usual hostage taking, plus a crazed lunatic terrorist plot designed to create mayhem and destruction.

But to me, the real power is this book is the focus on Alex’s family’s concern for his personal safety and his lack of family time.  Those of you who’ve been with Alex Cross from the beginning know that this has always been an issue in this series.

But in “Merry Christmas, Alex Cross”, the pressure seems great enough for Alex to question why he does what he does.

There is a second issue here.  Aside from being a first rate cop, Alex is also a sensitive human being, with a conscience.  So, if certain interrogation procedures are deemed questionable, then which side of the fence should he land on?

Is it correct to assume that anything is justified when keeping an innocent civilian population safe?  More conflict?  And will this lead to a permanent rift between Alex and an old and trusted colleague.

Only time and future Alex Cross novels will tell.

If you’d like to know more about James Patterson, then you can go to the page that I’ve set up for that purpose.  Or you can journey to James Patterson’s official web page.

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tales of Tomasewski By Del Staecker

Publish:  Musa Publishing

Copyright:  2012

ISBN:  978-I-6I937-819-3

204pgs; 12 Chapters

 

 

I.                   Murder Book Summary:

As the title implies, this is a book of tales (short stories), about detective Jake Thompson’s most interesting cases to date.  Each tale is a good stand-alone in its own right.  However, each story is linked to the previous one, more or less, in chronological order.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.  Just who is Jake Thompson?

We first meet Jake in “Blind One-Legged Johnny”, as a disgraced cop whom the world considers a prim loser.

His superiors, the press, and even Jake himself is convinced that he is responsible for the near death of his partner during a botched sting operation.

It didn’t matter that he served brilliantly as a patrolman in some of Chicago’s worst neighborhoods.  All that had been forgotten.

Jake was “sentenced” to work with The Administrative Investigation Unit (AIU).  This “unit” is the place where losers who haven’t been fired outright find themselves.

As Staecker writes:  Jake is “still a cop in name only”…he has been “reduced to finding lost wallets and misplaced umbrellas…”

No one wants to work with him and he doesn’t particularly want to have anything to do with his peers.  He buries himself in self-pity, crappy cases, and hard bourbon drink.

Jake Thompson is on the skids, just waiting for retirement.

But, in spite of everything, Jake has a support system in place.  The reader is introduced to each of this motley crew with each passing tale.

The leader of the “Jake Thompson Fan Club” is Earline, his favorite waitress, working out of Jimmy’s Diner.  She loves Jake, in the way a big sister loves a struggling younger brother.  She believes in him totally and her sassy temperament will not allow Jake to give up on himself.

Some of Jake’s friends are…well, they’re sort of strange.  Eddie Moocha is a young security guard who means well.  We meet him in “Duct Man”, where he is assigned to “assist” Jake.

Hopefully he doesn’t blow Jake’s cover in the process.  With his satchel that looks suspiciously like a purse, and his over-sized glasses, Eddie may need to be locked up in a padded room somewhere.  Be careful, reader!  Don’t underestimate Eddie.

Jake’s luck with the ladies is non-existent.  Ashley Morant is an old flame of his from 20 years ago.  She proves her love by running off, marrying well, and becoming a famous actress.  We meet her in “Cheese Cake”, when her daughter goes missing.

Charlotte Rhodes is a high-end CPA.  Introduced in “Mustard, Relish, and Larceny”, she is Jakes “girlfriend”.  She wants him to move in with her, and become a private investigator.

The second suggestion is sound advice, in my humble opinion.  You’ll find out how sound the first suggestion is after reading “The Cobbler”.

The reader is introduced to Captain Mildred Foister in “Deputy Jake”.  She’s Jake’s new boss at the AIU.  In his opinion, she “could not find her butt with both hands”.

Miriam Poteet is an art appraiser who hires Jake to investigate a counterfeit painting being passed off as the real thing.  Jake’s involvement goes beyond the hunt for priceless art in “The Cobbler”, much to his regret.

Every smart cop needs a mentor, and we are introduced to Jake’s in “The Sheriff of West Kowloon.

Born in Scotland, and working in Hong Kong, Jimmy McIldoon is a tough cop who specializes in a criminal organization known as The Triads.  An expert in the field of Chinese gangs, Jimmy requests Jakes assistance again in “Deputy Jake”.

II. Murder Book Judgment:

If you like frills, thrills, and lots of high-tech, then this book may not be for you.  Jake Thompson approaches police work the old fashioned way.  He uses his brains, toughness, and common sense to solve crimes.

And he accomplishes this while receiving zero credit from AIU, his peers, or just about anyone else.

Thompson’s brainy, sarcastic humor reminds me to that old TV cop from the 1970’s named Colombo…without the raincoat of course.

His tough independence reminds me of Robert B. Parker’s “Spencer for Hire”.  If anyone deserves to become a PI and run his own show, it would be Jake.

This book serves as an introduction to Jake Thompson, his world, and a cast of some pretty off-beat and colorful characters.

I must admit that sometimes his ultra-high principles drove me crazy.  He turned down money that he desperately needed more than once in this book.  But in the end, that’s what I like about him best of all.

As he said in “The Return of Blind One-Legged Johnny”;”I know who I am, and where I come from”. 

Will Jake return in perhaps a full-length novel?  One can only hope so.

If you would like to know more about the author of this book, go to my page for Del Staecker or visit Del Staecker’s website.

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Del Staecker: Tales of Tomasewski

Hey there, murder book fans:

This is just a short note to let you know what I’m up to today.  I am currently reading a small little novel by Del Staecker entitled Tales of Tomasewski.

Normally I don’t like writing until I’m finished reading, but this little book is worth a short preview.

If you’ve been following this blog, you may have read a previous post I did about the late, great, Robert B. Parker.  To say that I’m a fan would be an understatement.

Again, keeping this brief let me say that the hero in Staecker’s book reminds me so much of Spencer for Hire, that it almost leaves a lump inside my throat.

I’ll be getting into this in my formal review in a few days.  But let me just say this:  If Mr. Staecker doesn’t create a series about this fellow, I’ll be extremely disappointed.

Anyway, stay tuned, and I’ll be back in a few days with more.

Reg (I just love those thriller books)

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lust, Money & Murder (Book 1) By Mike Wells

 

Normally I wouldn’t begin to write a book review until I’ve completely finished reading the book.  And normally I wouldn’t buy one third of a book without buying the remaining two thirds.

Confused?  Well, the first third was a free download from the author’s website, and like most people in today’s economic times, I always look for a bargain

So, I went to Mike Wells’ webpage and downloaded Lust, Money & Murder (book 1).  .

Well, I finally just finished it (book1 that is).

I.                   Murder Book Summary:

The Brogan family is a rather typical lower middle-class family, living in a run-down house in a run-down neighborhood in Pittsburgh.  The family head, Patrick, wants nothing but the best for his little girl, Elaine.  He thinks the world of her and views her as a special, gifted child.

The mother, Kathy, is more of a realist.  She’s sick to death of living in a crappy neighborhood.  She’s a woman who has lost all hope for the future.  To tell the truth, she resents her only daughter as much as she hates her existence.  Perhaps it isn’t much of a surprise when Kathy disappears, never to be seen or heard from again.

Patrick Brogan is more determined than ever to give his precious Elaine the best life possible.  He begins stealing money from the construction company he works for so that he can send Elaine to an expensive private school for girls.

When Elaine is 16, she enrolls herself into a “modeling school”.  This is very much against the wishes of her father.  She empties her modest bank account of $200.00 and goes to her dad for the rest of the money.  He is less than pleased.  He suspects that this “school” is nothing more than an elaborate scam.  But, of course, he gives in.

Big mistake!

The modeling “school” is run by Ronald Eskew, a sleazy individual who uses his position to take advantage of his young charges, abuse them sexually and steal their money.

Once Elaine realizes she’s been had, she demands her money back.  When she threatens him with bodily harm (from her powerfully built dad), Ronald reluctantly hands over her $2,000.00 dollars.

There is just one little problem:  he repays her with counterfeit money which she innocently passes over to her father.

Disaster is about to strike!  The very next day, the Brogan family gets an unexpected visitor.  An agent from the U.S. Secret Service knocks on the door.

The brief conversation between the agent and Patrick Brogan goes like this:

“’Patrick Brogan?’

‘Yes…’

‘Did you deposit some cash this morning at the First National Bank branch over on Penn?’

‘Well…yeah, I did, but…’

‘You’re under arrest for passing counterfeit currency’”

Through his fingerprints, Patrick’s involvement in theft from the construction site that he works for gets him into deeper trouble.  He could receive as much as 25 years in prison.

Unable to bare the shame of jail-time, Patrick Brogan kills himself.

Racked with guilt and anger, Elaine Brogan makes two life-altering promises:

  • She will join the Secret Service and learn all she can about counterfeiting
  • She will find Ronald Eskew and make him pay for what her did to her and her father.

Of course life isn’t all that simple, is it?  Well the “easy” part is that Elaine does become a Secret Service agent, specializing in Counterfeit currency.  Now here are some of the hard parts:

  • On her first assignment, she is sexually harassed by her boss and transferred to Bulgaria
  • She discovers that Ronald Eskew has “passed away peacefully in his sleep”

It doesn’t get much worse than that, does it?  Well, yes, it certainly does.  In Bulgaria, Elaine discovers she has a natural talent for identifying fake currency.

She also discovers that she has more than a passing interest in her new boss, Nick La Grange, Secret Agent In Charge of the Sofia, Bulgaria Office.

This man is passionate about his work, and his confidence in Elaine’s abilities continues to grow as they work together.  He is a good mentor and protector.

There is just this one little problem:  Nick may be engaged in under handed activities involving a missing press used to print expert counterfeit bills.

And, that’s about where book 1 concludes.  I wish I could tell you more, but I can’t.  You see, I haven’t read books 2 and 3 yet.  I know, I know, what I am waiting for?

II. Murder Book Judgment:   

In any case, I can say that I prefer a little harder edge to my murder books.  I’m not really that interested in Elaine Brogan’s sexual encounters.  But Mr. Wells informed me that since the vast majority of his readers are women, he naturally gravitates towards that audience.

And, if his twitter page is any indication, it all seems to be working for him.

What caught my attention in this thriller book is the counterfeiting angle.  Very interesting stuff!  While in Bulgaria, Elaine discovers that someone is printing counterfeit money on a press that is manufactured by a company that sells these presses to the U.S. among others.

The thing is that fake money printed on these presses is virtually indistinguishable from genuine bills.  And now, one of these presses has been stolen.  We’re talking about counterfeiting on a massive scale.

In the real world we all know that counterfeiting is a huge problem.  But most of us don’t feel that it impacts us “ordinary” folks.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

When fake bills are passed, that impacts the economy, which can affect employment (or the lack thereof).  When someone purchases fake clothing brands, the real brands lose revenue.  Lost revenue means lay-offs, etc.

It’s this unique storyline that kept me reading into the wee hours.

If you don’t think this is serious stuff, consider this: 

Counterfeiting is a $600 billion dollar a year problem worldwide. 

In any case, I’m anxious to get started reading the second and third installments of this murder book.  I’ll keep you posted.

And, if you’d like to know more about the author of this thriller, you can find Mike Wells right here. 

This is the trailer for Mike Well’s “Lust, Money, & Murder”.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

John Sandford’s “Mad River: A Virgil Flowers Novel”

Publisher:  The Penguin Group

Copyright:  2012

ISBN 978-0-399-15770-7 (Hardcover Edition)

307 pages (Hardcover); 26 Chapters

 

I.  Murder Book Summary:

 

Southwestern Minnesota hasn’t had to deal with this kind of problem since…well, since never.

A trio of angry, loser-type teenagers that I call “The Gang of Three,” is on a diabolical murder spree that’s leaving the entire region bewildered, and terrified

The first victim:  Agatha (Ag) O’Leary Murphy, the daughter of John and Marsha O’Leary.  She was shot in the head while visiting her parent’s home, in a bungled home invasion.

The Second victim:  Emmett Williams, a young African-American car-jack victim.  He was shot dead by the leader of the escaping “gang of three”, Jimmy Sharp.

Sharp is a man who clearly seems to enjoy his work.  A square jawed, chain smoker, Sharp is an Army reject, who couldn’t hold a job if you paid him.  Literally!

Jimmy, who’s not exactly the smartest citizen of Shinder Minnesota, thinks of himself as a modern day Clyde Barrow.  Agatha is his first killing, but she won’t be is last.  Not by a long shot.

Murder gives him pleasure and makes him feel powerful and important.  For the first time in his short, failed, life, he is somebody.

This is a total turn-on for Jimmy’s teen girlfriend, Rebecca (Becky) Welsh.  In high school, Becky was considered the “prettiest and hottest girl” going.

Unfortunately good looks appear to be her only asset.  And worst, Becky doesn’t appear to be smart enough to exploit her physicality or develop any other latent talents.

From a poor background, and the product of non pretentious, frightened parents, her ambitions were never recognized or encouraged.

Becky became disappointed, disillusioned, and finally angry with life at a very early age.

Today, she is excited by Jimmy’s tough-guy persona.  She doesn’t understand Jimmy’s attitude for what it really is:  A cover up for impotence and hidden desires.  Together, Jimmy and Becky are Bonnie and Clyde on steroids.

The final member of Minnesota’s “gang of three” is Tom McCall, Jimmy’s loyal side kick.  Actually, loyalty isn’t even close to being a part of Tom’s true makeup.

Tom is a tall, rangy, whinny, complainer, who’s been kicked out of the Navy for medical reasons.  Like Jimmy, he can’t hold down a legitimate job.

He is completely self-centered, untrustworthy, and a liar.  Jimmy doesn’t trust Tom, and with good reason.  Tom is wildly attracted to Becky who’ll have nothing to do with him.

While the first two victims of this gang appear to be “wrong place/wrong time” quarry, the next three killings are highly personal in nature.

Jimmy shoots his own father in the head when the old man refuses to give him a place to hide out.  He then kills Becky’s parents for the same reason.  He seems to be completely enjoying himself.

Becky, who hates her folks with a passion, eggs him on, “and she felt nothing for them…” after the deed was done.

And so it continues.  These demented teens will kill anyone they feel can supply them with money and a fresh car to drive.

There’s the husband and wife who are franchise owners of a local fast food restaurant.  Then there is a Bare County deputy sheriff attempting to halt the gang’s robbery of a credit union.

There’s a woman whose home they burglarize for medicine.  The woman’s husband is also shot but he manages to survive.

And there’s the old man, living alone, who’s shot repeatedly when his killers decide his rural home would make the perfect hiding place.

The authorities have learned the identities of the gang, almost from the very beginning of the spree.  However, Jimmy and company have proven to be incredibly difficult to catch.

This is not because they are brilliant criminals.  Far from it!  It’s just blind luck that keeps the gang one step ahead of law enforcement.  Or, as Virgil Flowers would say:  “they’re kinda dumb.”

As an experienced field investigator for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Virgil Flowers is assigned to this difficult case by his boss, Chief Investigator, Lucas Davenport.

Flowers finds himself partnered with Lewis Duke, Sheriff of Bare County.  The two men couldn’t be more different.

Flowers is idealistic, slow to anger, and even slower to shoot.  Duke is conservative, hot-tempered, and may bend rules to suit his perspective of things.  Virgil considers Duke “an asshole”

While chasing after these “kinda dumb” killers and remaining one step behind them, Virgil uncovers a very uncomfortable possibility.  It is just possible that the “Gang of Three” may have a hidden forth member.

Dick Murphy is the husband of the first victim, Agatha (Ag) O’Leary Murphy.  He is a self centered jerk, and is said to have been physically abusive to Ag and may even have raped her.

Ag wanted a divorce and that put a frown on Dickey’s face.  After all, since Ag has left no will, he’d be much better off financially if she would just…die!

Dick, “the dick” knew Jimmy Sharp, and was seen shooting pool with him.  All this begs the question:  Was the Ag O’Leary Murphy murder really the result of a botched robbery gone wrong?

II.  Murder Book Summary:

This is the first of John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers series that I’ve read; therefore I can’t compare it with the others.

I can say that it starts off quickly, from the very first chapter with the murder of Ag O’Leary Murphy.  With only 307 pages, it’s not a large book to get through, making it a quick read even for a slow-poke like myself.

Sandford’s “Prey” series with Lucas Davenport is more engrossing, I think.  But this is a good book.

It does leave you with two points to ponder:

  • Some people will never succeed, no matter how much they might want to…maybe there’s some kind of personality flaw.  Or, maybe outside circumstances prevent it.  The Gang of Three are classic examples of people with big dreams, but who lack the proper tools to implement.  This leads to a high level of frustration, followed by an irrational level of rage directed at others.
  • Some people can literally get away with murder.  Ideally, anyone who breaks the law sould pay the piper.  Sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.  Or, as Lucas Davenport points out:  “…It’s Just Life.”

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment