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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Life Without Parole by Clare O’Donohue - a review

The secret to O’Donohue’s Kate Conway character is that she is the antithesis of O’Donohue. The author writes with an energy and vivaciousness that the protagonist lacks. Conway is alone in life, settling into a disturbing trend of inertia and curt to the point of being rude. Even her appearance is downtrodden and dowdy. That she is getting over the sudden death of her husband who she discovered was cheating on her is a decent excuse.

In the second of the Kate Conway series, we find our heroine disgusted with her recent free-lance television production and yearning for a program with a little more sustenance. When she hooks up with a program that wants her to interview two former death-row inmates, their sentences reduced to life without parole, she heads to the penitentiary immediately with her camera and recording crew in tow.

Simultaneously she receives a call wanting her to take on a second job, taping a series about up-and-coming restaurants that are opening in the area. When she finds out that the woman her husband was cheating on her with is one of the investors, and then discovers the rest of the motley crew that are involved with the project, including a local mobster and his wife, she probably should have listened to that inner voice that initially said no, but hey a girl has to pay the rent, right?

Inevitably problems come up with both film locations that indubitably are linked together by a thread; Kate has to figure out which group is lying more than the other without putting her job, and perhaps her life, on the line.

In typical O’Donohue fashion, we are led through a trail of lies and deceit, red herrings and dead bodies in this modern-era cozy and brilliantly woven tale of corruption, unrequited love and life in general, with or without parole.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Wasteland, by Lynn Rush - a review

Having been recently released from two hundred and fifty years of solitary confinement for having failed in his last mission, David is sent by the Master, Lucifer’s right hand man Locien, to bring in his new mark, a young girl named Jessica or face another quarter century in torment.

David, already four centuries old, was sold into this blood contract with the demon as the unborn spawn of a poor girl who sought a life of wealth and riches but who died in childbirth, leaving her child to the evil biding of demonic powers. He is unusual in that through the pact his mother made he remains half human, half-demon, taunted and tempted by his Master to have relations with a woman and change into a full-fledged demon. He had resisted for over four hundred years until this night when in a bar, surrounded by scantily clad females he meets and falls head-over-heels for Beka.

Beka comes from a long line of Guardians, appointed to kill demons and guard girls like Jessica, whose destiny it is to help save mankind from the powers of Locien and his ilk. She too feels a strong pull for David and so the relationship between the two enemies sprouts much to the dismay and amazement of their followers until through Jessica the long awaited destiny, set into motion generations ago is fully revealed.

This high-action, sexy paranormal story is full of graphic demonic battles, romantic liaisons with a tormented but honorable hero and strong female lead that make this story a sweeping epic; a dark and mysterious page turner.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Socialite Scorned - a review

In this true crime drama set in Tucson, AZ criminal defense attorney Droban skillfully weaves us a tight little story of murder for hire.

By researching thousands of e-mails and recordings and putting all the pieces together Droban writes like a novelist, building the story for us from ground zero, taking us through the ins and outs of the lives of Tucson socialites Gary Triano and his wife Pamela Phillips until the cold divorce and its fateful trappings.

Pam a successful real estate agent herself, although no match for multi-millionaire husband and his real estate holdings and deals, was only turned on by money and once her husband’s finances fell apart so did their relationship. Gone were the dinners with the Trumps, the house in the foothills and gone was Pamela’s love, no more high-rolling. She left with the children to their exclusive holiday home in Aspen.

Ron Young, an entrepreneur and extortionist worked his way into Pam’s life, listened to the socialite’s tales of woe and eventually made her an offer she couldn’t refuse, a way to get rid of that miserable ex-husband.

When Triano was killed in a bomb blast, killed in his car after playing golf at a top resort in Tucson’s northwest side many theories where put forth, girlfriend’s, ex-lovers, the Mob, biker gangs but when all the facts where finally put together by the Tucson Police Department one fact stood out more than any other. Who gained to win with his death, win the $2,000,000.00 life insurance policy pay-off.  When trials were sought, over a decade had past. Pamela had fled to Europe and many of the charges against Young where nothing more than hearsay and supposition. It is at this point in the book that you realize that this is an actual true life story, a crime that happened and reality is always more strange than fiction. The result is another headline.

Twice - A review

In her third outing Lydia Strong, private investigator, reveals a centuries old family curse as the husbands of famous artist Julian Ross family are all shown to have been murdered, including both of Ross’ husbands and her father too. Ross is under suspicion in the death of her husbands even though she had been exonerated in the first murder, ten years previously. Strong’s own mother was a victim of a serial killer, Jed McIntyre, who has recently been released and is stalking her as well. Lisa Unger—under the pen-name Miscione—sends us forward as she has us chasing two heavy plot-filled stories in her latest offering, “Twice.”

The dark story line is darkened even more as Strong’s partner/boyfriend, Jeffrey Mark, and her Australian minder, Dax Chicago, are led through the tunnels under New York City by the homeless who reside there as they recognize the danger of having McIntyre hide within their midst. Not only is he a threat to their own peace of mind, but they don’t need New York’s finest, led by Detective Ford McKirdy, searching below the surface. McKirdy, lead investigator in the Ross murders is the tool that Unger uses to bring the two storylines together as the Ross family have requested Strong also investigate the family murders.

Strong investigates these family stories as she struggles with finding out that she is pregnant and about to start her own family. The implausible storylines she finds herself involved in perhaps seem exaggerated by her extra-hormonal thought processes as she realizes that Mark is overbearing and extra-protective while seeing her as handicapped to be pursuing fleeing felons while in a family-way.

Unger writes in a heavy-handed way with great detail, though at times product names are a little distracting from the plot: pink glossy lipstick would be enough. This is a shame, as the story is fine, full of twists and turns, small-town clich├ęs and evil relatives. Highly entertaining gritty writing.

The Azalea Assault - A review

‘Everything’s coming up roses’ for the Roanoke Garden Society. America’s premier magazine for gardening enthusiasts Garden Delights will be featuring them in an eight-page spread in June and award-winning photographer Jean-Jacques Georges will be scheduling a shoot in local historically registered gardens at La Fontaine.
Cam -short for Camellia - Harris is arranging the event, from coordinating the photographer and magazine staff to ensuring her sister Petunia, and boyfriend Rob, cater the event. RGS founder and owner of La Fontaine, Neil Patrick is opening his home for the event and the whole of Roanoke’s society will be on hand for the grand opening day. Just when nothing can go wrong Georges’ body is found stabbed to death with pruning shears before the shoot even starts. Cam, scrambling to save the day, brings in her best-friend and flat-mate, Annie, to take over the shoot but when the second body is found and Rob and Annie are both in jail, suspected of murder, it is up to Cam to save her friends and find the real killer before the RGS wilts.
Hart Johnson, writing under the pen-name Alyse Carlson, has taken on a project of massive proportions. Following in the steps of Sue Grafton and her alphabet series Carlson appears to be ready to cozy up to the letters in the first of what she describes as ‘a garden society mystery’. I hope that there are 26 plants to see the series out, in order that we can continue to enjoy this masterful series. We can look forward to more of Virginia as we learn the ins and outs of Roanoke, ‘America’s Most Livable City’ and entwine our lives with those of Cam and her loveable bunch of friends and family.
In her debut cozy Carlson treats us to a sexy little thriller that gives us a new written aroma, and opens desire for future fragrant floral novels as we eagerly await the next in the series, The Begonia Bribe.

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