Reviews - February 2018

What They Say

“Not a wasted word. This has been a main point to my literary thinking all my life.”
—Hunter S. Thompson


Reviewers

Review Coordinator
Cynthia Lea Clark, Psy.D., MHt:

Cynthia Lee Clark

Former Miss Chicago (Miss USA), Cynthia Lea Clark continued school, graduating from Northwestern University (multiple degreed), attended nursing school, and became a Firefighter Paramedic. After working as an actress in Chicago, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked on many television shows, such as DAYS OF OUR LIVES and STAT, while continuing her education with a Masters in Psychology and then a Doctorate of Psychology. While working on STAT, she was stalked which led her to work in Forensic Psychopathology. She has over 70 interviews with serial killers, mass murderers, etc. Today she mixes Forensics with writing and acting.  She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death Chapter of RWA, International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, and the American College of Forensic Examiners International.

 

Aaron Paul Lazar:

Aaron Paul Lazar

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. A bestselling Kindle author of 22 books, including three addictive mystery series, writing books, and a new love story, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming release, UNDER THE ICE. Aaron has won over 18 book awards for his novels and finds writing to be his form of "cheap therapy." Feel free to connect with him on Facebook or his website; he loves to connect with readers.

 

Virginia Lo Monaco:

Virginia Lo Monaco

Virginia Lo Monaco lived in Sicily, Italy for 16 years and recently returned to California. She was trained as an operatic soprano, and has worked for numerous Opera Companies in America and was director of the Schola Cantorum for the Church of Sant'Anna in the town where she lived with her two dogs (including Tim, the overgrown Fox Terrier that co-stars in the Terry Strong, P.I., series) and three canaries. In order to pay for the years of vocal study, she worked for five years as a Fingerprint Technician for a sheriff's department and five years as a Group Counselor for juvenile offenders.

She started writing fiction in November, 1998. She started her first Terry Strong, P.I., novel, "Lethal Relations," in January, 2013.

She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the Private Eye Writers of America, the Short Mystery Fiction Society and Sisters In Crime-Los Angeles Chapter.

The first Luigi Mancuso story, "Oil in a Day's Work," was published in the Oct/Nov/Dec 2002 issue of Futures MYSTERY Anthology Magazine. 

The second Luigi Mancuso story, "Hearts and Diamonds," was published in the April/May/June 2004 issue of Futures MYSTERY Anthology Magazine.

Among other short stories originally published in Futures MYSTERY Anthology Magazine were: "A Man of Honor," Feb/Mar 2001 and, "Saturday Night Reruns," April/May 2001.

She is a former editor of FMAM.

In July, 2001, "A Man of Honor" (translated into Italian), won SECOND PLACE in the Akery National Literary Competition in Acerra, Italy (V Edizione Concorso Letterario Nazionale di Narrativa "Akery"). In November, 2001, it was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Her Science Fiction short story, "Intermezzo a Cappella," won an HONORABLE MENTION in the Writer's Digest 2001 Writing Competition. It ranked 22 in a field of more than 1,600 genre short stories.


 

 

THE FMAM MOSTLY MYSTERY REVIEW is the place to come to find out what to read next. Want to know what readers are saying (as opposed to critics) about the books you see around you? You’ve come to the right place! And, if you appreciate a critical review we’ll have those, too. Come in, sit down and see what’s write with the world! (Or, right in the world of write!)

New reviews will be posted on FMAM the 1st day of each month. Reviews will be kept on the FMAM website for 12 months.

New reviews this month from:

Aaron Lazar . Dr. Cynthia Clark

 


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  • Case Histories
    by Kate Atkinson
    Back Bay Books, 014, 310 pages, $16.00
    ISBN: 978-0316010702



Sometimes cases converge even decades later. 

Thrity years previsouly, a little girl went missing – case one.   Then more time passed in what seems like a random attack, an office worker is attacked.  And thirty years a new mother is cuaght in hell with a needy baby and a even more “needy” hudband, which creates a bloodie scene.

Jackson Brodie, a PI believes all three of these cases are linked.  As he investigates he discovers that there are indeed connections. The weaving of 30 years is fascintaing, intriguing and exciting.

Kate Atkinson has written a witty, charming, thriller!  She keeps you on the edge of your seat such that you won’t want to put the book down!  Wonderful!

               
On a scale of 1 to 5, I give it a 5.
Dr, Cynthia Lea Clark, Psy.D., Ph.D., MHt


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  • Watch Me
    by Jody Gehrman
    St. Martin’s Griffin, 320 pages, January 2018, $15.95
    ISBN: 978-1250144027

 

Kate Youngblood is a professor whose life seems to be spiraling out of control.  Her husband has left her for the cliché younger woman.  Her second novel is worthless.  No one seems to notice her or, so she thinks!  But she is wrong.  Sam Grist, Kate’s extremely talented student has been watching her.  His obsession is dark and dangerous.  With her “depression” growing and one person showing her respect and interest she allows Sam deeper into her life and her mind. 

As Sam weaves his way into her wife with mal intent we are treated to a journey of up is down, right is left, and right is wrong and wrong is right.  What are lies and what are truth?  And when, if at all are forbidden desires between student and teacher allowed?  Can one cross that line?  Can one come back from that line?  But then who is the watcher?

Jody Gehrman has written a superb edge of one’s seat drama/thriller.  You won’t want to put it down.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I give it a 5.0.
Dr. Cynthia Lea Clark, Psy.D., Ph.D., MHt


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  • Eden Lost (Eden Rising Trilogy Book 2) Kindle Edition
    Author:  Andrew Cunningham
    Publisher: Amazon Digital Service
    Genre: Apocalyptic Thriller
    Kindle eBook: $3.99
    ASIN: B00JJ2QN1K
    Trade Paperback: $13.95
    ·  ISBN-10: 1499129270
    ·  ISBN-13: 978-1499129274
    Author’s website: www.arcnovels.com

  • When I read Eden Rising, book 1 in this apocalyptic thriller series, I wasn’t sure about the genre. I’d never read or been interested in stories of doomsday or “what if” scenarios involving the end of the world. That said, I’d read and adored some books by this author already (Deadly Shore, Wisdom Spring, and the Lies series). So I took a chance on a new genre, and was instantly hooked. I devoured the first book, fell in love with the characters, and jumped right into book 2.

    Eden Lost takes place seven years after book 1, bringing Ben and Lila and their beautiful daughter, Katie, into a new existence in the woods near the shore of a lake. When a fire drives them out of their own paradise, a new adventure begins.

    I won’t recap the plot, because you can read about it in the book description (and I many of the other reviews), but I will share how the book affected me.

    Ben and his family show great courage and honor in all that they do. I loved the way they treated nature and mankind with respect, coexisting peacefully with the animals, taking only what they needed. The idea of a seven-year old child having been exposed only to a life in the woods without the trappings of the lost society was appealing, as was the character. Honest, sweet, and brave, she won my heart.

    There is always a higher purpose behind these adventures, too. I found that the author’s sense of clever, common sense pervaded solutions to the incredible situations Ben and his family ended up in. Whether it was dangling over a ravine with one foot in a loosely tied rope, or fighting off a gang of nasty marauders, Ben, Lila, and even Katie showed quiet strength and innate intelligence which pulled them through and in doing so, created a legend of heroism behind them.

    I’m a horse person, always owned them and rode them until life became too complicated, so I was thrilled to discover that the world in which Ben and his family lived went back to the good old days of keeping and riding horses.

    The deeper questions that come from this story—such as how mankind depends too much on electricity and gadgets and convenience—really struck a nerve with me. My own observations about the shocking comparison to today’s youth/society and my own innocent childhood roaming free in the fields and woods were brought up again in this story. The author handled it brilliantly, without force-feeding his ideals on his readers.

    Now I’m on to book 3 – cannot wait to start it!

    Aaron Paul Lazar, award-winning author at www.lazarbooks.com.

 

 

book cover

  • Where Night Stops
    Douglas Light
    Paperback: 288 pages
    Publisher: Rare Bird Books, A Vireo Book (January 16, 2018)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1945572663
    ISBN-13: 978-1945572661

A man (the narrator, no name), a bartender and a woman are in a bar called Charm’s Tavern in Florida. The sleaziness of the bar becomes apparent by the first page of the novel. The protagonist buys the woman a drink, then wonders why he did. He was twenty-two.

He lives in a shelter. His shelter buddy, Ray-Ray, sets him up with someone called Higgles. Narrator calls himself Ray-Ray when meeting Higgles. Further on in the story, he thinks he sees Ray-Ray at the shelter. He’s afraid of Pockmark, a guy he knew at the shelter. He’s afraid Pockmark will find him.

He starts doing work for Higgles: picking up and delivering mysterious envelopes and leaving them in a book in the library, then picking up his money in a different book, the same each time.  He calls it Kam Manning after his first job when he had to ask for Kam Man at a Chinese restaurant.

“Two, three times a week, Higgles texted instructions. The pick-up points were always different, the coded phrases awkward.” “Each time I was handed an envelope with a check already endorsed and some documents or a flash drive. Each time I was instructed to leave the envelope in a book in the library.”

He does this work by flying to every part of the world.

He lived with Sarah in Brooklyn for 7 months. He broke up with Sarah and went back to Seattle and began living a boring life. “My days brimmed with healthy, good-person activities. I’d never been so miserable.”

In one of the flashbacks, after describing his youth and parents, the story suddenly drops backward to four years prior. The story constantly jumps from present to past to far past.

In one flashback, he speaks of his life as a child and his best friend Clement. He then goes on the road.

In another flashback, he tells of how Clement, drunk, hits the family car and kills himself and narrator’s parents.

In Milan, a freak accident in a taxi.  His contact is killed in the accident and he is injured. The driver argues with the man from the other wrecked car and the man shoots the driver. He figures he’s in deep trouble, so he runs.

He fantasizes about a woman named Jasmina. Not clear who she is.

E.S. is an author he meets. She stayed the night with him. He wants to see her again in Memphis, but he doesn’t know her name.

He meets women everywhere and usually ends up in bed with them.

In Cincinnati he meets Rick, a musician at an art exhibit. Through him he meets Pansy, Rick’s ex-girlfriend.  He meets Layla in Iceland.

His contact, Casper White, in Iceland, tries to kill him. A piece of rebar impales Casper after they fall from a moving car. He kills Casper, at Casper’s request, by pushing the rebar further into Casper’s chest.            

He meets Higgles in Macao, China, for a big job.

In Indiana, he’s arrested at his apartment because a neighbor told police he pushed drugs.

In Spain, he gets stabbed in the buttocks by a contact. He travels all over and ends up in La Gomera. (The whistling language, Silbo, is real.)

Back in Canada for a pickup, he meets Higgles (who he thinks is a contact) but Higgles fights with him and narrator stabs Higgles in the upper arm.  He keeps the bag with whatever is in it and goes to Haven, FL.

Eventually, the story flashes back to the woman he met in the bar in Florida. They are together in his room, they have sex, she bites him hard on his neck, he tells her to leave, she pulls a gun on him and says his name, first, middle and last. He’s in shock.

I’m not sure about what genre I would place this story. It’s not a mystery. It’s not a thriller. It’s close to a memoir. I think it’s a book about adventure. He gets high on danger.

You never find out what the narrator is picking up from his Kam Manning job and there doesn’t seem to be any conclusion. But, Douglas Light writes with a good turn of phrase.

To me, it was an interesting book, full of high adventure, combat, female conquests, death and danger. It was very exciting in some places. If you like this sort of thing, you’ll really like Where Night Ends.

Virginia Lo Monaco