And what am I reading this time around?

Well, it’s a fast paced action thriller that I’m sure many (if not most) of you have heard of.  Its John Sandford’s latest entitled Mad River.  It’s the 6th of a series about Virgil Flowers, an investigator for and a protégé of The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s ace detective, Lucas Davenport.

For those who are unfamiliar with the characters, Lucas is the star of Sandford’s esteemed “Prey” series.  However, he does make cameo appearances in the Virgil Flowers series, although there’s no doubt that the majority of the action revolves around Flowers.

I’m going to save the complete rundown of this murder book until I complete it, which should be in a few days.

I can tell you this, however:  Flowers is dealing with a threesome of murderers, who are as sick as they come.  I call them “the gang of three”.

I will only say that these characters just kill folks simply because they can.  Yes indeed, they really make a wholesome trio.

So be patient, and in the not so distant future, I’ll be giving you a complete review, and my unbiased opinion.

I can’t wait!

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Stephen R. Coar’s “The Deadly Track…A Ride against Time”

Stephen R. Coar, a new entry into the wonderful world of crime thriller authors, was kind enough to forward to me a copy of his new book for review.  I’m honored that he thought my humble opinion was so important.  This is his first venture into this type of fiction.

Publisher:  Outskirts Press

Copyright:  2012

ISBN # 978-1-4327-9559-2 (Paperback Edition)

494 pages (paperback); 52 chapters

 

 

 

I.  Murder Book Summary:

If your name is Special Agent, Lester Cody, then life has dealt you some serious blows.  You are an eleven year FBI veteran, who’s the victim of a gunshot wound to the head.  You have been left with severe head trauma and are subjected to seizures and blackouts.

You were once an up and coming agent in charge, with a bright future ahead of you.  Today, you’ve been reduced to a boring desk job with your talents lying dormant.

You are an unusually tall and commanding figure, but some of your closest colleagues and friends are uncomfortable in your presence.  You have a habit of repeating yourself and the details of your injury…your friends and associates take steps to avoid you.  They really don’t want to hear another rendition of how you were shot in the head six years ago.

You’re a loving husband and devoted father, but there are problems in this area as well.  You’re married to an intelligent and beautiful woman, but your sex-life is non-existent.

You wife, Melany is devoted to you, but your ramblings and lack of sexual interest are placing an enormous physical and emotional strain on her.  You don’t know it, but Melany is harboring a very guilty secret that is placing your marriage at risk.

If your name is Lester Cody, you crave a stable relationship with your wife and you want your job back.  Your REAL job!  These are the things that define who and what you are; a family man whose professional calling is to protect and serve the public…at any cost.

If your name is Maxwell Tierson, then life has dealt you some hard blows as well.  Nature has not been kind to you.  Whereas Agent Cody is unusually tall, you are unusually short.

Some people consider Agent Cody a handsome man.  No one would ever accuse you of being handsome.  You have a large head, short legs, and deformed hands.  Like Agent Cody, you are extremely intelligent and resourceful.  Unfortunately you almost never receive any credit for your near genius I.Q.

You hate being the center of attention, but that doesn’t stop people from staring at you and making cruel jokes behind your back.

Your abusive father beat you without mercy until you were in your teens.  Your loving mother either stood by and did nothing, or joined in on the festivities.

Your dad probably would have continued to beat you into your twenties and beyond.  But one fine day you took matters into your own hands and murdered him in the cellar of your dilapidated home.

It’s strange how quickly your mom decided to help you after your dad’s death.  You became her boy (“are your all right, honey…talk to Mommy”), even as your “disability income was her only income”.

Like Agent Cody, you suffer brain trauma and are subjected to seizures and blackouts.  Unlike Cody, you protect and serve no one.  You’d rather indulge yourself in your favorite hobby:  blowing up trains.

Fate is about to bring these two powerful antagonists together and it won’t be pretty.  The Pine Barrens of Southern, New Jersey, has just been rocked by a freight train bombing that leaves the motorman dead, and millions of dollars worth of produce destroyed.

Special Agent Cody is about to receive one of his fondest desires.  He is being reactivated to field work.  But Les Cody needs to be careful about what he wishes for.

And Les also needs to be careful of supervisors bearing gifts.  Robert Delano, Regional Director of the FBI in Philadelphia, and Cody’s boss, harbors a deep resentment towards his former star agent.  Any “gift” from Delano is more like a curse.

Delano would love nothing more than to see Cody’s career lying in smoldering ruins, just like the trains that Maxwell Tierson loves to blow up.

Once given this dubious “chance” to reinvent his career, Les finds himself chasing “the little man” through the Jersey Pine Barrens.  He even gets to play “super-hero” by attempting to stop a speeding train atop a Philadelphia bridge.

And, of course Cody must do all of this while watching his back.  After all, Delano’s treachery is never far behind.

II.                Murder Book Judgment:

There are other characters and scenarios in this book (such as a terrorist plot).  Frankly, I found most of those to be distracting.  The above mentioned characters are the ones who carry this story, and give it its strength.  In my humble opinion, they are the ones that make this murder book worth reading.

And just what sets this thriller apart from so many others?  Is this book just another of an endless line of psychotic killer novels and crime dramas?  I think not!

To a lesser extent, Delano’s jealously and hatred of Cody just oozes off the page.  I developed an instinct dislike for this man, and wished nothing but bad karma for him.  I’m sure that that was Coar’s intention anyway.

Cody’s devoted but guilt-ridden wife Melany ultimately triumphs in a powerfully supportive role, after a temporary “failure” as a spouse.  It was so refreshing to “meet” someone who doesn’t cut and run when the going gets tough.

But the real stars in this crime drama are Special Agent, Les Cody and Maxwell Tierson.

They both have so much to teach us.  Here we have two damaged individuals who have, for the most part, been written off by the people around them.  And yet, they both prove to be capable of performing at levels that would challenge the competences of so-called “normal” folks.

Cody finds himself on the verge of a full-blown grand mal seizure, in the middle of an investigation that can make or break his career.  How does he react?  He pulls himself together by sheer force of will, and continues his mission.

People assume Maxwell Tierson is “mentally challenged”.  And yet, with his resourcefulness, combined by a super-high intellect, he has taught himself to hack into government files, with his damaged fingers flying over the keyboard with ease.

Both of these men have been dealt unfairly in life.  They have more in common with each other then either would ever acknowledge.  Both have suffered devastating injuries to their minds and spirits.  And yet, both have been given gifts to overcome the obstacles in their path.

That’s the first lesson.  We all have great gifts to accomplish what we will.  Here’s the second lesson.  It’s what we decide to do with those gifts that separate one individual from the other.

In this thriller, one man decides to protect others even if it costs him his own life.  The other man, fueled by rage, decides to destroy others.

In the end, this book is not about blowing up trains.  It’s about overcoming ones limitations, and deciding how to use what’s been given to you.

If you’d like to know more about Stephen R. Coar, you can find the info by clicking on my “author’s” page.  Enjoy!

 

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It’s Been Awhile, And…

You may have been wondering if I’ve fallen off the planet or not.  I assure you, I’m still here and have not taken any unexpected journeys to distant galaxies.

No, my feet have remained firmly planted on mother earth.  Unfortunately, real-world concerns have prevented me from reading, reviewing and blogging as I might like.

That said, “What am I reading now”?  What goodies do I have in store for anyone interested in my opinion?

Glad you asked!  Recently, an author named Stephen R. Coar sent me a copy of his new book for review.  It’s called, “The Deadly Track“.

I just cracked open the cover this morning, and I think I’m in for a wild ride of an action thriller.  And that’s just the kind that I like.

What really impressed me so far is not the book itself.  I haven’t gotten far enough into it to have an informed opinion.  No, what really impressed me is what I’ve learned about Mr. Coar, himself.

Seems like he’s a natural story-teller and has been so from an early age.  I can tell you that he’s multi-talented, with a background in theater as well as writing.

I’ll be doing an “author’s page” on him soon, so I don’t want to get into too much detail here.  However, this man is the kind of person I’d like to meet.  The fellow had a terrible auto accident some years ago, which left him disabled.

“Disable” may be the wrong word to describe this writer because he hasn’t allowed his accident to stop his creative processes.  Instead, he uses his experiences and bestows them on to his characters.

Boy, talk about writing what you know!!

Anyway, something tells me these are going to be some very interesting characters.  I can’t wait!

So, without any further ado, I’m once again off to the amazing world of fantasy, action, adventure, and murder.

And, as usual, in a week or so, I’ll let you know what I think.

See you in a bit.

Reg

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James Patterson’s “I Michael Bennett”: A Review With Michael Ledwidge

Publisher:  Little, Brown, and Company

Copyright:  2012

109 Chapters; 383 pages

I.  Murder Book Summary

Forbes lists him as one of the wealthiest men on earth.  Law enforcement lists him as one of the most ruthless drug lords on the planet.

He is linked to approximately 700 murders in the past 3 years.  His enemies run to the witness protection program at the mere mention of his name.  If they don’t, they end up dead.

He has ordered the assassination of U.S. border patrol agents and their entire families.  Even a sitting judge is not immune to his violence.

Police officers who oppose him are shot dead in the streets.  His fellow criminals in the drug business fear and respect him.

His name is Manuel “The Sun King” Perrine.  He is the ruler of the infamous “Tepito” drug cartel.  His escape from a Mexican jail has led to a wild shoot-out on the streets of New York City.  And now, he has ace detective, Michael Bennett in his cross-hairs.

With the aid of his psychotic bodyguard Marietta, Perrine has murdered Bennett’s best friend and co-worker, and has escaped custody from a Manhattan lock-up.  He has accomplished this in the midst of a trial that was supposed to send him to the lethal injection chamber.

Detective Bennett, a 20 year veteran of NYPD, has the audacity to challenge “The Sun King”, even to the point of breaking Perrine’s nose during a confrontation.  Doesn’t Bennett realize who he’s dealing with?  If not, Perrine will surely show him in some of the most gruesome ways imaginable.

Michael follows leads of escalating gang activity, from the gleaming towers of Manhattan, to the rustic beauty of Upper New York State.  As he hunts, he hears of fellow cops, and an assistant D.A., being killed.  Even members of his own family are threatened and assaulted.

Who’s really stalking who anyway?

Although Bennett has the cooperation of law enforcement officials across the entire North East, Perrine seems to out-fox Bennett at almost every turn.  Even when seemingly trapped in his hide away in the North Country, Perrine escapes, although not without paying a terrible price.

At the end of the day, it is Detective Bennett, his nanny, Mary Catherine, and his entire family who become the hunted.  But in a sense, it has been like this from the beginning.   Bennett only thought he was the hunter as he continually underestimated the power of the cartel.

II.  Judgment of this murder book:

What caught my attention early on in this thriller is the absolute pitiless nature of “The Sun King”.  Under the fine clothes and the genteel mannerisms, Manuel Perrine is a murdering psychopath.

But, unlike the average psycho, Perrine is blessed with near unlimited resources which allow him to kill at will, and get away with it.  And unlike other drug lords, he doesn’t limit himself by delegating his murderous impulses to underlings.  On special occasions he likes to participate personally.

It is most unsettling that this character is a mirror image of actual drug cartel rulers in operation today.  His actions are not entirely the result of Patterson’s artistic imagination.  Real life drug barons are just as powerful, influential, and lacking in human values as this fictional character.

And, in real life, impressionable young people, looking for easy money, are just as eager to follow and model themselves after thugs like “The Sun King”.

This is clearly a case of art imitating life!

On occasion, I had to put this crime thriller down.  Recent real life current events make some of the circumstances in the novel a bit predictable.  However, having some of those chilling incidents reproduced in the book and taking place in modern day New York City, was enough to reluctantly pull me back in.

I mean, judges being murdered in open court?  Can that really happen in New York?  It seems so far fetched.  But Patterson’s authoritative knowledge of modern law enforcement procedures, criminal organizations, and daily news reports, make you believe the impossible can indeed become a reality.

And maybe that’s what disturbs me about this book.  I think the theme of this crime thriller hit too close to home for me personally.  The thought of powerful cartels hooking up with U.S. based gangs and spreading drugs, violence, and death is distressing to me.

Maybe James Patterson and his co-author, Michael Ledwidge have done their work too well.  This murder book touches on some very serious hot-button issues in the U.S. today.

These include:

  • Drug dealing on a massive scale
  • Uncontrollable gang warfare spilling over into the civilian population
  • Murder of public and law enforcement officials
  • Guarding U.S. borders
  • Illegal immigration (I’m talking about criminal elements only)

Yes, the authors have written a good murder book.  It’s not a great one, but it is good.  If you’re a Patterson fan, then I don’t think you’ll be wasting your money.

I just wish that what Patterson and Ledwidge wrote about was less disturbing and more fictitious.

If you would like to obtain information regarding Michael Ledwidge, you can find it here.

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So, Which Murder Book Am I reading now?

I’m so glad you asked that question.  James Patterson is always a good read and he’s best known for his collaborations with other writers.

A few days ago I started reading I, Michael Bennett which Mr. Patterson co-writes with Michael Ledwidge.  This is the 5th book in a series featuring lead NYPD detective Michael Bennett.

I’m almost done, and I can tell you it is an exciting ride, although the theme is pretty much familiar with most crime thriller fans.  You know, a big-time drug cartel boss with zillions of dollars in off-shore accounts.  He tries to set up shop in the United States.  And he’s an incredibly violent ego maniac.  Nothing you haven’t read before, but it moves along pretty quickly.

Anyway, I’ll be back as soon as I’m finished, which should be in a few days.

Reg

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Linda Castillo’s “Gone Missing”: A Review

Minotaur Books, New York/St Martin’s Press

26 Chapters; 277 pages

I.  Murder Book Summary

You see it on television and read about it in the newspaper.  You shake your head sadly as you reach for your morning coffee.  “What’s the world coming too,” you wonder as you blow across the coffee cup and take a sip.

You just can’t imagine anything like “that” happening to you or any of your neighbors.  After all, you live in a safe, quite, neighborhood.  Everyone knows everyone.  You live far from the crazy city and have round the clock security patrols.

And yet, “it” happens all the time, with frightening regularity.  “It’s” happening to wealthy families in nice neighborhoods, and poor families in slums.  “It” crosses racial, ethnic, and religious divides.

Every year, young children and teenagers are abducted from their homes and communities, and more often than not, are never seen alive again.

Imagine how you’d feel if your precious child vanished without a trace.  Allow yourself to feel the stomach-churning sensation of fear twisting your guts inside out.  Experience the sense of bewilderment when you realize that your prayers for their safe return may not be answered.

Now imagine your community being a close-knit closed entity that is naturally suspicious of all outsiders.  This is a community where nothing unusual ever happens.  Life moves slowly and predictably as it has for generations.

You and your neighbors are used to handling situations “in-house” and discourage any interaction with strangers, especially law enforcement.

But, there is evil lurking here in this quite, closed off place.  It is an evil that preys upon the most vulnerable among you.

And now, you and your neighbors are forced to seek help from the“hated” outsiders you dislike and mistrust.

This is the chilling scenario presented to us by Linda Castillo, in her most recent novel, “Gone Missing”.  One by one, teenagers, mostly girls, are disappearing from Ohio’s Amish community.

And now, the “English” police, lead by Ex-Amish, and Chief of Painter’s Mill police department Kate Burkholder are here, with their annoying, invasive questions.

She is accompanied by her partner/friend (and much more), John Tomasetti who is as tough and no-nonsense as they come.  He’s a conflicted cop, however.  His wife and two children were murdered a few years ago.  This case brings back haunting memories of his dead family.

When questioned by the authorities, it becomes apparent that either the Amish have no clue as to their children’s activities, or they are desperately trying to hide something.

As much as the parents try to deny it, all these missing young people have one thing in common:  disenchantment with the “plain” life of the Amish which has nurtured them since childhood.

I suppose you can’t blame the parents.  All parents want to believe their children are content with the life that has been provided for them by themselves and the community.

Assume for a moment you are 16 year old Bonnie Fisher’s parents.  You are Amish, and your daughter has been missing for 2 months.  Your natural suspicion towards outside authority is intensified by fear and frustration.  Your anger is so intense that sometimes it makes you grit your teeth in rage.

And here comes this young woman chief of police who has been excommunicated from your church.  She and her partner dare to ask questions you thought you’d already answered before.

You deny that Bonnie has any family issues.  There have been no arguments or fights.  You grow very uncomfortable when asked about possible boyfriends.  You become increasingly defensive and resent the chief’s prying questions.

Your hostile attitude is understandable when viewed in the harsh light of reality.  The fact is Bonnie’s feelings about Amish life were very different from yours.

She had a secret boyfriend.  In fact, she had more than one sexual partner.  And to make matters worse, she was pregnant and unsure who the father was.

You don’t understand how your daughter would involve herself in such activities.  She behaved like one of the “English.”  And now, she’s gone missing.

It’s pretty much the same story with the other missing teens.

Annie King was strong-willed, restless, and 15 years old.  Her “English” boyfriend has a criminal record.  He says the “plain” life was too restrictive for Annie.  She’d said so many times before.  She was known to ride around in cars, smoking cigarettes, and using a cell phone.  She’s been missing for at least 36 hours.

Sadie Miller, also 15, is bright, confident, and defiant.  She is a gifted child, who is interested in needlepoint, art, music and travel.  She has dreams of going off to college.  Her parents are clueless as to the extent of her rebelliousness.

Her best friend stated that Sadie smoked, cussed, and was constantly talking about leaving.  She went missing while Kate and Tomasetti were investigating the other disappearances.

Noah Mast is an 18 year old male Amish who disappeared 9 years ago.  The local police assumed he was a runaway.  He liked to drink and party with the ladies.

All these young people disappeared at a time when they were ready for a serious life change.  Because of their youth and inexperience, this leaves them impressionable to outside influences.

Could one of those “influences” be a kidnapper and a murderer?

Or, as Levi King bemoaned while viewing the remains of his precious Annie:  “Who could do this terrible thing?”

32 year old Gideon Stoltzfus is an unmarried, ex-Amish with a “past.”  He was arrested 10 years ago for having sex with a young Amish boy.  The boy was over the age of 18, so there was no conviction.  But Gideon left the community in disgrace.

Today, he aids Amish young people escape the “plain” life by funneling them through an “underground railroad” of sorts.  He’s always available, helpful, and understanding.   He’s just the kind of “nice” guy that an impressionable, trusting kid might turn to in time of crisis.

He admits that Noah Mast contacted him once and asked for assistance.  Gideon swears he “never heard from him again” after that initial contact.  After the interview, Tomasetti quips, “…either a damn good liar or he’s telling the truth.”

On the other hand, Stacy Karns is not a good liar!  The 44 year old African-American is a successful, self-employed photographer.  He is quite wealthy and something of a local celebrity.

Karns has earned his wealth the old-fashioned way.  He creates candid, un-posed images of Amish young people.  It’s a neat trick since the Amish do not like having their likeness captured on film.  Karn’s subjects are unaware that they are being photographed.

Mr. Karns also has a police record.  He was arrested and convicted for using a minor to create adult-orientated images.  He served 6 months in jail, with 5 years probation.

He denies ever meeting or photographing Annie King.  The subject of a photograph found in Stacy Karn’s home is Annie King.

II. My Judgment of the murder book:

One of the things that caught my attention about this mystery thriller is why did it take so long for Kate Burholder and John Tomasetti to figure out the common denominator of the victims?

Linda Castillo goes into great detail explaining how rebellious these kids were.  Annie and Bonnie acted way outside Amish traditions in most of their actions.  And yet, it took Burholder three quarters of the way through to figure out that this could be a motive for murder.

That said, I was in no way bored by this murder book.  Castillo manages to cram a lot of interesting stuff and characters into a relatively “small” book.

I found the final confrontation between Kate and the killer to be very suspenseful.  Her bull-headedness and dedication to duty almost gets her killed.  I won’t tell too much so as not to give it away.

With her knowledge of Amish traditions, Castillo kept me interested.  She grew up near the Amish, and is obviously writing about things that she’s experience first hand.  And that always makes for a passionate writing experience and an exciting read.

Police Chief Kate Burklolder is my favorite character in this thriller, hands down.  Her dedication and stubbornness reminds me of another character I’ll be writing about in the near future:  Eve Dallas.  During the final conflict, I was cheering her on, even while I was cursing her for being so damn hard-headed.

Here’s a secret you ladies may not know:  Guys like tough women.  They are so sexy.

Anyway, my final verdict of this murder book is as follows:  If you haven’t read it by now, I think you can safely spend you money.  I didn’t even fall asleep on the romantic parts.  That says something for me.

This is the first Linda Castillo novel I’ve read and it won’t be the last.  Enjoy!

If you’d like to know more about Miss Castillo’s work, you can find it here

 

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Well, there’s Good News…and Bad News

The Good News:  I’m a slow reader and I’m almost finished reading “Gone Missing” by Linda Castillo

The Bad News:  I’m a slow reader and I’m still reading “Gone Missing” by Linda Castillo

I’m about 3 quarters of the way finished.  I’m not trying to make excuses for myself but Castillo has a lot of stuff packed into 26 chapters and 277 pages.  OK, maybe I AM making excuses for myself.

Here’s the deal.  There are a lot of characters (mostly victims and suspects) to wade through.  But that, I think, is to be expected in a good murder book.

However, there’s something here that I didn’t expect.  She has two things going one in this book.  The most obvious, of course, is the investigation itself.

The second thing is a crash course in Amish traditions and culture.  If you’ve read her past novels, (or are already familiar with The Amish) then this will come as no surprise to you.

But, as I mentioned in the previous post, this is virgin territory to me.  And, I must say, my naturally curious nature really likes it.

What shines out like a beacon is the lack of understanding and the outright suspicion between Amish and “English” communities.  Castillo grew up in western Ohio, near Amish country, so I think we can consider her somewhat of an authority.

The Amish are a conservative group with a strong mistrust for any outsiders.  These “outsiders” include, but are not limited to, other Amish from different regions.  Their traditions discourage any interaction with non-Amish.

They prefer to handle any problems within the community “in-house” and have a very strong support system in place to accomplish this.  And, they are not too happy when “English” police come to call, with their endless, annoying questions.  They will (however reluctantly) cooperate with law enforcement if the situation warrants it.

Well, anyway this whole Amish “thing” has really got me digging out (and blowing the dust off) the old Encyclopedia Britannia and reading about them.  Now, I could just look “Amish” up on Google, but wouldn’t that be too easy?

So, that’s my excuse for not completing this book.  I should be finished in a day or so.  For those who haven’t read this author’s work before, I think you’ll find it well worth the wait.

Interesting Side note:  National Geographic (NGO) is currently broadcasting a series entitled “Amish:  Out of Order”.  It’s about ex-Amish who’ve decided to leave the “plain” life and join the larger world.  I’ve only seen it once (today), but it seems to be a sincere effort at understanding the challenges of young people abandoning a support system that has nurtured them since childhood.

There’s fear (of the unknown), loneliness (rejection from family members), and triumph (landing well paying jobs…getting into college…support from other Ex-Amish).  It seems like it might be worth a viewing or two.

If you should happen to see it, let me know what you think.

Later!

Reg

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So, what am I reading now?

I just started reading “Gone Missing” by Linda Castillo.  This is the 4th in a series featuring Chief of Police, Kate Burkholder of Painters Mill, Ohio.  I’ve missed the other 3 books, so I guess I have some catching up to do.

Anyway, in this outing, Chief Burkholder investigates the disappearance of several young girls from rural communities near Cleveland.  The girls are all Amish.  This fact hits a sensitive spot in Burkholder’s gut since she is former Amish.

I know very little about the Amish culture.  I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this since there are Amish (and Mennonite) communities in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which is about 3 hours from where I live.

So, perhaps this book will give me some interesting insights into a culture which is very different from what I’m accustomed too.

So far, this murder book promises to be a good, fast-paced read.  Talk to you later

Reg

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Robert B. Parker And “Lullaby” (A Spenser Novel)

Publisher:  The Penguin Group

Copyright:  2012

63 Chapters; 310 Pages

Author Notes: 

I.                  Murder Book Summary: 

Drug addicted prostitutes are often killed on the streets.  This is a fact of life, for those who live “the life”.  Tragically, it happens all too often.

But why would anyone murder Julie Sullivan in such a brutal and public fashion?

Four years ago, Julie was sexually assaulted and stabbed repeatedly.  When it became apparent that she was still alive and kicking, the assailant ran her over with his car.

Her body was easy enough to find.  It was almost as if the killer wanted her found.  She was dumped on a construction site.  Was the killer sending some kind of message?

Four years later, Julie’s 14 year old daughter, Mattie, has her own theories about her mother’s murder.  And she’s not shy about presenting those theories to ace Boston detective, Spenser.

Marching into his office, on a cold winter’s day, and offering to pay him “five crumpled twenties and a ten”, she makes her position quite clear.

Her mom was not murdered by the patsy that the police tagged for the crime.  In fact, said “patsy” was Mickey Green a long-time friend of Julie’s who spent much of his time helping her with odd-jobs, and basically attaching himself to her.

Mickey Green had many faults:  Drug addiction, Breaking and entering, aggravated assault, car theft, and so on.  But Mickey just wouldn’t lower himself to murdering his good buddy Julie.

Mattie is firmly convinced of his innocence.  She’d witnessed her mom being abducted and forced into a vehicle the night she was murdered.  And Mickey was no where near the scene.

But two “friendly” neighborhood drug dealers named “Pepper” and “Moon” were certainly there.  In fact, they were the ones who forced Julie Sullivan into that car, very much against her will.

And did Mattie report what she saw to the police, Spenser inquires.  Her answer:  “they gave me a pat on the head and a card about some shrink so I could “talk about my trauma.’

Nice!  I guess it’s so much easier to grab the obvious loser type rather than believe some kid who couldn’t possibly know what she’s talking about anyway.

To give the Boston PD their due, that was Green’s car that was used in the murder.  And that car had the victim’s blood on it.  As far as the police are concerned, this homicide is a “no-brainer”.

Of course there is a little thing called “motive” that might be considered.  Well, everyone knows that when 2 drug addicted persons get together, anything can happen, right?  Case closed!!  Have a happy life behind bars, Mickey.

This is the situation that the highly successful private investigator Spenser finds himself in when he accepts this rather unusual and angry client.

He’ll have a box of donuts as payment, and a bunch of reluctant witnesses, cops, and gangsters who are determined to keep Mickey Green in jail, and Mattie Sullivan quite.

And Mattie Sullivan is just as determined to expose the truth about her mother’s death, with or without help from anyone, including Spenser.

Poor detective Spenser!  Talk about being stone-walled.

He encounters Bobby Barrett, 45 year old police officer working out of South Boston.  He’d arrested Mickey Green several times before Julie’s murder.  Officer Barrett caught Mickey red-handed washing blood off his car at a car wash.

Theresa Donovan had known Julie for years.  She thinks Mickey is guilty as sin.  Or does she?  For some odd reason, she disappears shortly after her meeting with Spenser.

Lesley “Moon” Murphy and his partner “Red” Cahill flatly deny killing Julie.  Well, anyway, Red denies killing her.

Moon is not…well let’s just say he’s not too terribly bright.  He does what he’s told.  It’s obvious that Red is the brains in this little partnership.  This, I must say, isn’t saying very much.

Both of these “gems” work for crime-boss Gerry Broz.  Gerry Broz’s dad Joe Broz is a legend in Boston crime circles.  His family once ruled South Boston.

Gerry would love to bring back the good old days.  Unfortunately, Gerry is nothing like his father.  He’s weak and is constantly trying to prove otherwise.  He hates Spenser with a passion.  His father hated Spenser as well, but at least the old man did give the ace investigator his respect.

Do you think Spenser is going to get any cooperation from people like this?

And then let me not forget FBI Agent Tim Connor.  He has been staking out Gerry Broz’s operation for 2 years.  He certainly doesn’t appreciate Spenser butting in and upsetting all of his hard “work”.

I mean all this fuss just to get some drug-addicted loser out of prison?

Even Spenser’s long-time associate, and shooter, Vinnie Morris wants no part of this case.  Vinnie feels that he has ties and obligations to Joe Broz which can’t possibly be broken.  It’s an old-school, mobster kind of code of honor.

And what does any of this have to do with a small-time, murdered prostitute?  Julie Sullivan did purchase drugs from “Moon” and “Pepper”.  But that seems to be the extent of their relationship.  Or was it?

The only people who really seem genuinely interested in helping Spenser figure this mess out are the usual cast of characters that you will find in any Spenser for Hire novel.

There is Susan Silverman, Spenser’s long-time girlfriend.  She is extremely intelligent, attractive, witty, and sometimes boring.

And then there is Spenser’s right arm, Hawk, who is always ready to go to the wall and proves it in this installment.

Homicide Squad Commander, Quirk is here.  He believes Mickey Green is guilty as sin, but is willing to give Spenser the support he needs to prove otherwise.

Spenser’s hot, sexy lawyer Rita Fiore makes a strong appearance as well.  Honestly, this time around I don’t think Spenser could have solved this case without her help.  Personally, I wish Spenser would “get with” Rita and dump Susan.  This is just my opinion, however.

But, of course the real star in this crime drama is Mattie Sullivan.  Sad, tough, strong-willed and gutsy, she almost drives Spenser crazy.  I liked her from the moment she bullied her way into his life.

I like the way she takes responsibility for her younger siblings and the way she seeks justice.  Don’t try to pat “little Mattie” on top of the head and send her off to bed.  You just might get your arm chewed off.

II.               My Judgment of this murder book

As all of you Spenser for Hire fans know, the creator of this mystery thriller series, Robert B. Parker passed away in 2010.

Like all of you, I was saddened when I heard of his death and I just assumed that Spenser would die along with him.

In 2011, the Spenser estate chose Ace Atkins to continue the series.  I can say that after reading this book, Mr. Parker’s legacy is in good hands.  Atkins is a fine crime thriller author and I look forward to reading his other works as well.

Here we have the same short chapters, and the same snappy, funny dialog, which make for a quick, enjoyable read, even for someone who reads as slow as I do.  The action moves very quickly from one scene to the next.

But most important, I never got the impression that Mr. Parker was gone.  I mean, I know he is no longer with us, but it’s almost as if he was standing over Mr. Atkins’ shoulder.

It’s not that Atkins was copying Parker.  I really don’t quite know how to explain it.

All I can say is that Spenser, Susan, Pearl, Hawk, and all the rest are still alive and well in all their glory.  And if Atkins continues to write in this way, I will definitely keep reading.

If you would like more information regarding Robert B. Parker and Ace Atkins, you can find it here.

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Have You Been Looking For Me???

Of course you have!  We crime thriller and mystery fans have got to stick together.  Anyway, the latest book that I’ve almost finished (I know, I know, I’m slow), is Robert B. Parker’s “Lullaby”.

Like most of Parker’s fans, I was deeply saddened by his passing back in 2010.  Personally I was very reluctant to embrace any author attempting to carry on his legacy.

Well, I’m not ashamed to admit when I’m wrong about something.  I’ll save all the details for the main review coming up soon.  I’ll just say this:  It’s almost as if Parker was still with us.

Notice I said “almost”, because no one can completely take the great man’s place.  However…

See you in a few days.

Reg

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