BOOK REVIEW OF BEHIND THE MASK EDITED BY TRICIA REEKS AND KYLE RICHARDSON FOR THE COLORADO REVIEW

Colorado Review - Behind the Mask: An Anthology of Heroic Proportions by Tricia Reeks and Kyle Richardson, editors

“Rocketing into speculative fiction territory, Behind the Mask, a strikingly entertaining anthology of short stories focused on the everyday lives of those in possession of superhuman abilities, sparkles with vibrant luminosity and star-spangled hipness.”

The Colorado Review features my review of the latest book from Meerkat Press, Behind the Mask: An Anthology of Heroic Proportions, edited by Tricia Reeks and Kyle Richardson.

Litchfield Reviews Smith by Timothy J. Lockhart for the Lancashire Post

LEP.CO.UK - Smith by Timothy J. Lockhart

Blackmailed into working for a secret government organisation, a hard-bitten former servicewoman overcomes a perilous training programme to become a highly skilled and extremely resourceful assassin in a taut, action-packed thriller.

In his explosive debut novel, Smith, former US Navy officer Timothy J. Lockhart draws on his years of experience working with various government intelligence agencies to craft a gripping tale of international intrigue.

The action focuses on a secretive corporation, calling themselves ‘the Enterprise,’ which is intent on eliminating undesirable political figures, terrorists, and influential leaders of regimes they believe pose a threat to US national security.

Not connected with the government, the organisation is free to engage in clandestine overseas operations without repercussion. In truth, their clients are ‘a few federal agencies of the government,’ providing them with the money, information and resources to succeed.

The Enterprise also has a highly classified programme in place to identify military personnel coming off active duty, and is keen to target those with the necessary talents and motivations to work with them.

One such person of interest is the tough-as-nails loner who goes by the alias Smith. Mentally scarred by a traumatic experience serving in Afghanistan, Smith, now 26 years old, has since turned into a revenge-fuelled killer.

Having gunned down a man who once served alongside her in the Army, she is captured while making her getaway and brought to the Enterprise headquarters to meet the Director who is keen to recruit her.

Facing life in prison should the evidence be turned over to the police, she is forced to accept his offer, agreeing to kill for them.

Timothy J. Lockhart takes great care to make the gruelling boot camp and plentiful moments of gunplay delightfully gritty and ostensibly authentic, and Smith is a suitably captivating heroine.

Odious secondary characters like the lecherous, scheming Assistant Director and Dietzler, the antagonistic fellow recruit, keep you rooting for Smith, a persecuted killer trapped in a role she yearns to escape, learning to accept that there is no going back and ‘no way out.’

Solidly entertaining, with an interesting female lead character who has plenty of grit and toughness, Smith is a notable hard-boiled noir that hits the ground running, with guns blazing and knives slashing, and doesn’t let up until there are ample corpses piled high.

My review of Smith by Timothy J. Lockhart is published today in the Lancashire Evening Post, and syndicated to 25 newspapers across the UK.

Read the full review here

Issue 30 of Lowestoft Chronicle

Lowestoft Chronicle #30

From taxicabs in Japan and arcades at Jersey Shore to rough and wretched ferry rides in Thailand,  Issue #30 of Lowestoft Chronicle features stories, poems, and essays by AN Block, Charles G Chettiar, Mary Donaldson-Evans, Brennen Fahy, Lou Gaglia, Elliot Greiner, Jill Hawkins, Anthony Head, Todd McKie, Frank Morelli, James B. Nicola, and Saundra Norton.

 

Litchfield Reviews The Affair of Lady Westcott’s Lost Ruby and The Case of the Unseen Assassin by Gary Lovisi for the Lancashire Post

LEP.CO.UK - The Affair of Lady Westcotts Lost Ruby / The Case of the Unseen Assassin by Gary Lovisi

In a pair of intriguing novellas set in London in the 1890s, the deductive skills of Sherlock Holmes and his protégé, Inspector Alec MacDonald of Scotland Yard, are severely tested by a string of random killings of ‘gentlemen of consequence,’ and a plot to bring down the monarchy and plunge the British Empire into chaos.

Having ‘acquitted himself very well’ in The Valley of Fear, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fourth and final Holmes novel, long-time Sherlock Holmes pasticheur Gary Lovisi advances young Inspector MacDonald, or Mr. Mac as The Great Detective is fond of calling him, to lead character in two fast-paced and highly enjoyable Victorian mysteries.

In the opening tale, The Affair of Lady Westcott’s Lost Ruby, ‘crack detective’ MacDonald, considered by Holmes to be one of Scotland Yard’s best prospects, is assigned a promising case concerning a minor member of the nobility and her missing prized possession.

In the second adventure, The Case of the Unseen Assassin, MacDonald is forced to play deputy to Lestrade, who is investigating a spate of shootings of wealthy men in bustling, upmarket districts of London.

Both entertaining and thrilling, The Affair of Lady Westcott’s Lost Ruby and The Case of the Unseen Assassin prove to be stimulating, remarkable mysteries, and refreshingly different to many other Holmes pastiches. Let’s hope Mr. Mac will return.

My review of The Affair of Lady Westcott’s Lost Ruby / The Case of the Unseen Assassin by Gary Lovisi is published today in the Lancashire Evening Post, and syndicated to 25 newspapers across the UK.

Read the full review here

Litchfield Reviews Stranded by Matthew P. Mayo for the Lancashire Post

LEP.CO.UK - Stranded by Matthew P. Mayo

Best known as an author of popular western novels, Matthew P. Mayo produces his finest work of fiction to date with this compelling, heartbreaking account of Janette Riker’s harrowing experiences while stranded for months on end in the Rockies, battling blizzards, frostbite and floods, and a vast array of ravenous, menacing creatures.

Based on a true story and told in the form of journal entries, Mayo’s novel begins at the very start of the Riker family’s ill-fated journey westward toward Oregon Territory.

Three months into their trip, ‘with the most difficult stretch still to come’ as the final three-day journey to Oregon will be through mountain passes, they decide to stop and replenish their depleted food stocks. Her 12-year-old brother, Thomas, ‘an uneven mix of good and rascal, of laziness and kindness,’ and William, aged 16, ‘who sometimes seems older than Papa,’ set off for the day with their father to go buffalo hunting. They never return.

Alone except for two oxen, and unsure of the best path through the mountains, Janette has no choice but to stay put. Armed with an axe, a shotgun and a hip knife, her best hope for survival is to build a shelter, set traps for rabbits and other small game and recollect every scrap of advice her father ever gave her.

Placed in such a horrifying and distressing situation, while at the same time having to overcome the sudden loss of her family, it is remarkable how Janette Riker is able to adapt to her hostile environment and rise to every new challenge. The reader can’t help but be inspired by her bravery, determination and extraordinary resilience.

Gripping, unsettling, and deeply affecting, Stranded is a powerful and unforgettable tale of courage and endurance in the face of adversity. A remarkable, must-read novel.

My review of Stranded by Matthew P. Mayo is published today in the Lancashire Evening Post, and syndicated to 25 newspapers across the UK.

Read the full review here

Litchfield Reviews Mrs. Jeffries Rights A Wrong by Emily Brightwell for the Lancashire Post

LEP.CO.UK - Mrs. Jeffries Rights a Wrong by Emily Brightwell

Prolific New York Times bestselling American author Emily Brightwell (aka Cheryl Arguile) has been penning popular cosy mysteries on a regular basis for the past 24 years. Adding a novel twist to standard detective fiction, her long-running Victorian historical mystery series featuring the incisive Mrs. Jeffries and her invaluable squad of determined, below-stairs novice sleuths has gained a keen international following, with the books proving just as popular in parts of Europe and Asia.

In her newest novel, Mrs. Jeffries Rights a Wrong, which marks the 35th entry in the series, Brightwell delivers another entertaining and intricately plotted murder mystery set around a bustling London hotel and focused as much on uncovering the truth about the ‘slick as a slippery eel’ victim as on discovering the identity of the killer.

Well-told and with an absorbing, carefully constructed mystery at its core, Mrs. Jeffries Rights a Wrong is another great addition to Emily Brightwell’s robust series.

My review of Mrs. Jeffries Rights A Wrong by Emily Brightwell (aka Cheryl Arguile) is published today in the Lancashire Evening Post, and syndicated to 25 newspapers across the UK.

Read the full review here

BOOK REVIEW OF THE DELIGHT OF BEING ORDINARY BY ROLAND MERULLO FOR THE LANCASHIRE POST

LEP.CO.UK - The Delight of Being Ordinary by Roland Merullo

“Missing and believed kidnapped by the Mafia, two of the world’s most recognisable holy men embark on a secret, impromptu road trip across the appealing Italian countryside in a delightfully whimsical novel from acclaimed American author Roland Merullo.”

My review of The Delight of Being Ordinary by Roland Merullo is published today in the Lancashire Evening Post, and syndicated to 25 newspapers across the UK.

Read the full review here

BOOK REVIEW OF THE PHANTOM OF THOMAS HARDY BY FLOYD SKLOOT FOR THE COLORADO REVIEW

Colorado Review - The Phantom of Thomas Hardy by Floyd Skloot

“American memoirist, novelist, and poet Floyd Skloot nimbly crosses the gorge between fact and fiction in his uniquely inventive The Phantom of Thomas Hardy. Part travelogue, part memoir, part novel, this semi-autobiographical and semi-biographical endeavor is multifaceted and blends the various categories so thoroughly that the result is comparable to a rich, smooth-textured cocktail with a faintly peculiar flavor.”

Published today in the Colorado Review is my review of the latest novel by American memoirist, novelist, and poet Floyd Skloot.

Read the full, in-depth book review here.

Litchfield Reviews Saratoga Payback by Stephen Dobyns for the Lancashire Post

LEP.CO.UK - Saratoga Payback by Stephen Dobyns

After an absence of almost 20 years, Stephen Dobyns’ popular laconic hero, former police sergeant turned private eye Charlie Bradshaw, makes a welcome return to the sleuthing world in a lively tale of multiple murder, mutilation and horse-napping.

Dobyns, an award-winning poet and distinguished novelist praised by the likes of Stephen King, has been penning acclaimed crime fiction for more than 40 years. Saratoga Payback, his latest novel, is the dryly amusing eleventh book in his long-running mystery series set in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Charlie Bradshaw, who first appeared in print in 1975, is now aged 67 and married with a teenage stepdaughter. Having had his private investigator’s licence and gun permit revoked by the police chief, ‘with the help of the district attorney,’ nowadays much of his time is consumed with chores around the house.

However, he still occupies his second-floor office above a used bookstore, and still carries a business card, albeit one designed by his stepdaughter bearing the dubious label: ‘Consultant, Legal or Otherwise.’

His slow, monotonous life takes a dramatic turn early one morning when he carries out the garbage and discovers the butchered corpse of Mickey Martin, a neighbourhood acquaintance, in an untidy heap on the pavement outside his home.

With its winning mix of mystery and humour, strong bursts of suspenseful action, and a likeable if ham-fisted hero at the reins, Saratoga Payback is a constantly engaging, sure-footed experience. Let’s hope Charlie Bradshaw will be back on the crime scene sooner rather than later.

My review of Saratoga Payback by Stephen Dobyns is published today in the Lancashire Evening Post, and syndicated to 25 newspapers across the UK.

Read the full review here.