Featured Book: Baudelaire’s Revenge, by Bob Van Laerhoven

Baudelaire's Revenge by Bob Van Laerhoven Book ReviewAtmospheric Historical Mystery Tells the Story of Darkness, Debauchery and a Depraved Serial Killer

1870. Paris, France is a city under siege, both literally and figuratively. In the midst of the Franco-Prussian war, it has not yet been invaded by the Prussian army, but as Paris readies itself for the inevitable onslaught, its citizens indulge every imaginable debauchery. Police commissioner Paul Lefevre, who is no stranger to self-indulgence himself, is on the hunt for an uncommonly brutal and inventive serial killer — a killer who leaves scraps of poetry with the corpses of his victims. It is three years after the death of the scandalous poet Charles Baudelaire, yet the very people who tormented him during his lifetime are the ones being murdered. And after each brutal killing, the murderer leaves behind a verse from Baudelaire’s “Les Fleurs du Mal,” all of which deal with themes of evil, eroticism and decadence. Is the killer exacting revenge? Is the controversial poet somehow directing the killings from beyond the grave?

In this sometimes gruesome, always fascinating and uncommonly well-crafted novel of 19th century Paris, author Van Laerhoven does a masterful job of evoking the dark atmosphere and mores of an era. Themes of dissolution, loss of hope, class warfare and the scars that past traumas leave behind make Baudelaire’s Revenge more than just an engrossing mystery. They allow the reader to feel the oppressive atmosphere of the time and to experience the violence and hopelessness of Paris during the mid-19th century. Baudelaire’s Revenge is the winner of the Hercule Poirot Prize for Best Crime Novel and of the USA Best Book Award, and it is not hard to see why. Van Laerhoven manages to weave the stories of real historical figures into a fictional tale that reveals much about the mores and ethos of an era while taking the reader on a fascinating, albeit dark, hunt for a killer.

Baudelaire's Revenge on Amazon

About the Author

Bob Van LaerhovenBob van Laerhoven was born on August 8th 1953 in the sandy soil of Antwerp’s Kempen, where according to the cliché ‘pig-headed clodhoppers’ live. This perhaps explains why he started to write stories at a particularly young age. A number of his stories, set in the future but focusing on social trends and dangers instead of science, were published in English, French, German, Spanish and Slovenian.

Van Laerhoven made his debut as a novelist in 1985 with Night Game.  He quickly became known for his ‘un-Flemish’ style: he writes colorful, kaleidoscopic novels in which the fate of the individual is closely related to broad social transformations. His style slowly evolved in his later novels to embrace more personal themes while continuing to branch out into the world at large. International flair has become his trademark.

During the Bosnian war, Van Laerhoven spent part of 1992 in the besieged city of Sarajevo. Three years later he was working for MSF – Doctors without frontiers – in the Bosnian city of Tuzla during the NATO bombings. At that moment the refugees arrived from the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. Van Laerhoven was the first writer from the Low Countries to be given the chance to speak to the refugees. His conversations resulted in a travel book Screbrenica. Testimony to a Mass Murder. The book denounces the rape and torture of the Muslim population of this Bosnian-Serbian enclave and is based on first-hand testimonies. He also concludes that mass murders took place, an idea that was questioned at the time but later proven accurate.

Bob van Laerhoven is also a prize-winning author:  in 2007 he won the Hercule Poirot Prize for best suspense novel of the year with his novel Baudelaire’s Revenge. In 2013, the French translation La Vengeance de Baudelaire was published in France and in Canada. Baudelaire’s Revenge won the USA Best Book Award 2014 in the category “mystery/suspense“. Currently, the English translation of another novel – Return to Hiroshima – is finished. and his latest novel The Shadow of the Mole is being translated in English.

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Book Review: Rise of The Iron Eagle by Roy A. Teel Jr.

Iron Eagle ArtOn the Hunt for a Hunter of Serial Killers

The city of Los Angeles is no stranger to violence. It has both a colorful and grotesque history with it. Sheriff’s Homicide Detective Jim O’Brian and FBI Profiler Special Agent Steve Hoffman are also no strangers to the violence of the sprawling metropolis, but in the past decade something has changed. There’s a serial killer preying on other serial killers – some known by law enforcement, others well off radar.

“The Iron Eagle,” a vigilante, extracts vengeance for the victims of Los Angeles’ serial killers. His methods are meticulous and his killings brutal. With each passing day, “The Iron Eagle” moves with impunity through the streets of Los Angeles in search of his prey. O’Brian and Hoffman create an elite task force with the sole purpose of catching “The Eagle” and bringing him to justice. But the deeper they delve, the more apparent it is that he may very well be one of their own. As the two men stare into the abyss of their search, the eyes of “The Iron Eagle” stare back.

Rise of The Iron Eagle (Book One of the Iron Eagle Series) by Roy A. Teel Jr. is not for the faint of heart. Graphic violence and scenes of torture are laced throughout this tale of murder and intrigue in Los Angeles. The story centers around a series of gruesome murders and the LAPD detective and FBI profiler investigating them. The detectives quickly determine that the killer chooses his victims very carefully: he only goes after serial killers. What makes the story more intriguing and engrossing than most police procedurals  is that the vigilante appears to know about serial killers that the police had no idea existed and so the cops are left with a quandary: take down the “Iron Eagle” vigilante or allow him to lead them to other, unknown serial killers? He is both a “perp” and a boon to the detectives, in that he helps them find dangerous criminals. The problem is that the Iron Eagle does not wait for the justice system to mete out punishment – he takes his own vengeance in the most brutal of ways.

The story, and the detectives’ quest, if further complicated by police connections – the vigilante appears to be connected to high ranking members of the LAPD, and investigating him may mean that the detectives are putting their careers in jeopardy.

The mask-wearing Iron Eagle is not so very different from comic book heroes and anti-heroes like Batman, but author Roy A. Teel, who has written several series of thrillers, is able to use considerable skill to craft a story that is filled with surprises and to create main characters who are sufficiently flawed and real that the reader cannot help but be caught up into the story. As the story unfolds and more is revealed about the Iron Eagle’s past and his motivations, the internal conflict experienced by the detectives is shared by the reader: is the Iron Eagle a villain or a hero? Should we root for him or hope he gets caught? This kind of internal conflict, combined with Teel’s use of spare, evocative language and a tight, well-crafted plot, make Rise of the Iron Eagle enjoyable, suspenseful fun that most readers will find impossible not to finish in one sitting.

Rise of the Iron Eagle on Amazon

About the Author

Roy A. Teel jrAfter battling Multiple Sclerosis for nearly 16 years, RoyA. Teel Jr.began devoting his energies and passions to the full-time art of storytelling. Although he is no longer able to work in a high stress executive environment, his life has taken on a new mission: to inform and entertain. His disability has brought with it an unforeseen blessing. He can finally take medications to alleviate some of the pain from his MS and focus on the pleasures of character creation and the joys of putting words to paper.

Author Website Author Jamila T. Davis on Twitter

4 New Thrillers to Get Your Heart Pounding

new thrillersThrilling New Suspense

via Maureen Corrigan at NPR Books

I’ve just spent much of the past two weeks on my couch, reading suspense fiction. The result of all that heavy lifting is this list of recommendations — four thrillers, very different in style and MO, but all deadly accurate in their aim to entertain.

Innocence; Or, Murder on Steep Street

Innocence; Or, Murder On Steep Street

by Heda Margolius Kovaly and Alex Zucker

Hardcover, 234 pages

Heda Margolius Kovaly is a writer best-known for her memoir, Under a Cruel Star, about her ordeal in Nazi concentration camps and living under communist rule in Czechoslovakia. After her first husband, a government official, was executed in a show trial in 1952, Kovaly became a pariah, barely supporting herself and her small son by working as a translator.

Of all the writers whose work she translated before her death in 2010 — including Heinrich Boll, Arthur Miller and Philip Roth — Kovaly most revered the work of Raymond Chandler. In 1985, Kovaly wrote a suspense novel of her own called Innocence; or, Murder on Steep Street. Soho Press has just brought out an English edition of the novel, translated from the Czech by Alex Zucker. It’s set in the Prague of the 1950s, a time when the city was the living embodiment of a “paranoid landscape.”

The center of the intrigue in this tale filled with spies, informers, murderers, snitches and victims is the Horizon Cinema, a movie theater where people go for escape. Kovaly describes how the moviegoers always left the theater at night silently, because they were “just focused on not getting bruised during the steep descent back into reality.” Our heroine is a young usher named Helena — modeled partly on Kovaly herself — who is desperate to rescue her husband, who has been thrown into prison for espionage. Everyone else from the concession stand operator to the cleaning lady has some scam going on.

The great draw of Innocence; or, Murder on Steep Street is the menacing view it gives us of communist Prague. Helena, for instance, describes being hustled into a small interrogation room and having “pairs [of men’s eyes] stick to [her] face like frog’s legs.” Kovaly channels Chandler but takes him into a landscape far, far away from wide-open LA.

Second Life

Second Life

by S. J. Watson

Hardcover, 402 pages

Second Life, by best-selling author S.J. Watson, is an erotic psychological thriller about a British woman named Julia who is tormented by guilt when her younger sister, Katie, is murdered leaving a bar in Paris. In an effort to belatedly understand her sister, Julia snoops online and learns that Katie was visiting chat rooms for sex, virtual and otherwise.

Julia finds herself drawn into this online demimonde and discovers that simply pressing the “delete” key can’t erase her own desire, once awakened. Watson introduces her novel with two epigraphs about sexuality and danger, one from Michel Foucault and the other from W.B. Yeats. Those quotes also signal the literary ambitions of this nuanced thriller whose end, I guarantee, you’ll never see coming.

Run You Down

Run You Down

by Julia Dahl

Hardcover, 280 pages

Julia Dahl’s debut novel, Invisible City, was a finalist for an Edgar Award; her second novel is called Run You Down, and it returns readers to what has become Dahl’s home territory: the world of ultra-Orthodox Jews living in Brooklyn and upstate New York.

Dahl’s recurring heroine is a tabloid reporter named Rebekah Roberts, whose own long-lost mother was Hasidic; here, Rebekah is assigned to snoop into the possible murder of a young mother who was found dead in her bathtub and, as ultra-Orthodox ritual dictates, quickly buried. Soon, Rebekah is up to her tuchis in trouble.

Though the plot becomes a bit formulaic at the end, Dahl is an evocative writer, never more so than when she’s describing the nascent yearnings of those younger members of that religious community — gay, vaguely feminist, simply different — who can’t quite fit in, but can’t quite leave.

The Last Taxi Ride

The Last Taxi Ride

by A. X. Ahmad

Paperback, 361 pages

Not quite fitting in, but not being able to leave is Ranjit Singh’s situation in a nutshell. Singh is the hero of two superb suspense novels by A.X. Ahmad, the second of which, The Last Taxi Ride, has just come out in paperback.

Ranjit is a religious Sikh and a former Indian army captain now working as a cab driver in New York. The complex plot here involves the murder of a former Bollywood star and smuggling shenanigans in the human hair industry. But above all, Ahmad breathes life into the characters of Ranjit and New York City — a New York that encompasses the glories of the Dakota apartment building, as well as Little Guyana in Queens, hole-in-the-wall Pakistani kebab houses and high-roller nightclubs in downtown lofts.

Ranjit — whom his boss calls “Taliban” because of the turban he wears — is a smart and poetically melancholy investigator of the ambiguities of human personality. Nothing feels canned about this series. In fact, in this season where we’ve lost both P.D. James and Ruth Rendell, it’s cheering to stumble upon an emerging detective like Ranjit, who feels utterly authentic and original.

Book Review – Under the Bed by Jeffrey Hurwitz

Under the Bed ArtThere Really ARE Monsters Under the Bed

Book reviewers often begin the process of reading a new book by trying to classify it – giving a book a framework can help with the task of explaining it to potential readers. From the start of Jeffrey Hurwitz’s Under the Bed, questions arise: Is this a terrifying look at the effects of child abuse? Or is it a tell-all about the torture adults can inflict on children? A tale of how children create their own worlds to escape from the world around them? Perhaps it’s a look into the psyche of a child? A fantasy? Horror? It is a all of the above, and more.Under the bed download

Under the Bed is the story of a teenager, Jack, who has survived an unspeakably abusive childhood through fantasy, logic, academic achievement and pretense – the pretense of abused children – that everything is fine. Now that Jack is about to graduate from high school, however, it becomes impossible for him to pretend any longer. It turns out that there really is a monster hiding under his bed. And this monster cannot be escaped using the strategies he used to get through childhood.

From the Book Jacket

Jackie had quite the typical childhood growing up. Except for the time his mom poured near boiling water over him. And his father’s “Final Solution” to his little bed wetting problem. And of course the phantasmal nightmares. The old man with gnarled teeth, arthritic fingers coming for him night after night, reaching out closer and closer.
Now about to graduate from high school, Jack is about to learn the most important lesson of his life: There really are monsters under the bed. Or at least one. Feeding off the fear created by human misery and suffering, Shrekoli is back for his latest conquest. Back to take Jack under the bed.
But this time Jack’s not alone. No stranger to past horrors herself, Stacy must ready herself for one more to save them both. One so terrifying and unthinkable it will test her strength of both body and mind. Can Stacy help Jack to escape the inescapable? Or will Shrekoli feast on Jack’s fear, punishing his body and mind for all of time?

Character Driven Horror

If one had to classify this book (as Amazon does) it would fall under supernatural horror. But Under the Bed is far more than a scary story about goblins or the devil. It’s a finely written, character-driven allegory about the horror human beings create with their own cruelty, told so that the reader remains unsure of what will happen next but very eager to find out. The main character, Jack, is the driving force – his humor and humanity are the “hooks” of Under the Bed – they are what make this novel so engaging, even as its events are horrifying.

About Jeffrey Hurwitz

Jeffrey HurwitzJeffrey has tried on a variety of hats never settling on one. He has taught high school science in the U.S., Bolivia, Germany and Indonesia taking advantage of these postings to travel the world, including all 7 continents. He has also practiced law as a public defender, the “if you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you” lawyer. While a practicing teacher and lawyer, Jeffrey found time to be a personal fitness trainer as well. He is now trying on his last hat (maybe) as a writer.

Book Review: Mr. Blank by Justin Robinson

Mr. Blank ArtConspiracy and Mystery with a Healthy Dose of Sardonic Humor

Blending the knowing cynicism of Dashiell Hammett with the twists and turns of movies like “The Usual Suspects” is a tricky balance: too much cynicism can feel forced and a plot that winds too much may confuse the reader. In Mr. Blank, author Justin Robinson handles both admirably, creating a story that is never hard to follow but that forces the reader to pay attention. Its charm and pop culture references (some obscure) keep it from feeling too heavy, and the world-weary humor of its first person narrative give it an intimacy and immediacy that make it absorbing from the first chapter.

Set in the gritty underworld of Los Angeles, Mr. Blank inhabits a world of monsters (both real and figurative) and of secret societies that may be figments of the narrator’s imagination…or are they? The entire novel has a fun, breezy air combined with a story that takes the reader on a series of ups and downs and constant surprises that are in turns frightening and hilarious.  Nothing is as it seems and fanciful conspiracy theories that cannot possibly be true turn out to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Absorbing seems too small a word to describe the various characters and plot twists in Mr. Blank. When the seemingly innocuous Blank is almost murdered, he sets out to figure out who is behind the attempt, and why someone wants him dead. What follows is a funny, knowing and thoroughly engrossing romp through the darker side of Los Angeles that, once started, it hard to put down. One suspects that a familiarity with southern California would make this book even more consuming, but even if you’ve never set foot in L.A., if you enjoy being challenged,  surprised and even tested by a book where you never see the next turn in the road coming,  you will find this mystery/comedy entrancing.

Buy Mister Blank on Amazon

About the Author

Justin RobinsonA native of Los Angeles, Justin Robinson splits his time between editing comic books, writing prose and wondering what that disgusting smell is. Degrees in Anthropology and History prepared him for unemployment, but an obsession with horror fiction and a laundry list of phobias provided a more attractive option.

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Book Review: The Circle by Mario Escobar

Book Review Dark Conspiracy Thriller -The Circle-Psychology, Conspiracy and The Secrets of London’s Financial Giants Meet in an Uncommonly Good Thriller

Maryam is a former power broker in London’s world of stock trading who “snapped” and was institutionalized years ago and has been almost forgotten by the staff at the hospital. The pressures of her high-flying lifestyle and high pressure work must have led to a breakdown and now she is in an almost catatonic state. At least that’s the official story. When she meets a brilliant new psychiatrist, Dr. Solomon Lewin, the truth of her situation gradually begins to be illimuniated. At first she will only say that she is in danger from “The Circle” and it seems that she can remember nothing more about the circumstances leading to her institutionalization. When the doctor helps her regain her memory and she is in a position to give more details about the danger she is in and who “The Circle” is, events unfold that prove her fears to be completely founded. Someone is trying to kill her because of what she knows about the financial collapse of 2008.

She and Lewin become partners in trying to understand the threat and in trying to keep Maryam from being killed by the mysterious members of the circle. Their interactions, as well as the details involving her mental illness and how she regains her memory ring very true and the different backgrounds (he a humanitarian and a Jew, she a former Muslim who gave up religion for a life of partying) create a tension that gives some of this novel its tautness.

From start to unexpected finish, the story is high-energy and needs the reader’s close attention. There is a lot going on here, including a story told from various points of view, and a lot that is at first left unsaid about the forces that threaten the patient who knows too much.  It is a classic psychological thriller in the best sense of the term: one that keeps the reader guessing and eager to learn more as each new fact and twist is revealed. It is easy to imagine this novel as a film: its themes and language are cinematic and its truly surprising ending would make for a dark, disturbing film along the lines of “Shutter Island” or even “The Manchurian Candidate.” In the relationship between doctor and patient there are even Psychological Thriller "The Circle"elements of the classic Argentinian film “Man Facing Southeast.”

With a fine translation (from Spanish) by Gretchen Abernathy, among “The Circle’s” many virtues are interesting secondary characters, and undercurrents of the use of psychological diagnosis to silence those with uncomfortable truths. This is a book that is well worth reading for anyone who enjoys a truly dark and genuinely surprising psychological thriller about conspiracy. You will continue thinking about it long after you put it down.

Book Review: The Girl Who Went Missing

Sex Trafficking Thriller Book ReviewDark Thriller About Sex Trafficking in India

If Ace Varkey’s first novel, “The Girl Who Went Missing” were to be made into a movie, it would be in the Film Noir style. It is both absorbing and disturbing and paints a picture of India from the point of view of a tourist as well as a picture of the covert, dark side of developing countries like India.

Set in the largest city in India, Mumbai, the story revolves around 2 sisters: Thalia, who is living in India and June, who is in India to visit her sister. When June is unable to locate Thalia and begins to suspect that she has been victimized in some way, she enlists the help of a police commissioner and a diplomat. Their search eventually takes them to parts of Mumbai that visitors rarely see, and exposes June to the ugliest parts of life in a poor country, including sex trafficking.

The Girl Who Went Missing Book ReviewBlack and White Storytelling

While the story is, indeed, gripping and the descriptions of India are often quite mesmerizing, the characters and situations in “The Girl Who Went Missing” lack nuance. There are very few shades of gray here, just “good guys” and “bad guys.” While it is, of course, tempting to villainize anyone who profits from sexually exploiting the vulnerable, Varkey does not delve into the deeper implications and meaning of India’s very real and very large human trafficking problem.

It should be noted that both June and Thalia are are American, upper-middle class, and white. Indeed, the story opens with a scene in which an Indian man is brutalizing a woman until “her eyelashes lay still against her white cheeks.” There are racial overtones and faint echoes of popular novels and movies of the early 20th century, like “The White Slave Hell,” which spawned an entire genre of White Slavery books and movies and led to the passage of The Mann Act, in 1910.

The Reality of Trafficking

The truth about sex trafficking is just as horrific as the fictional story in “The Girl Who Went Missing.” It is estimated that as many as 2.4 million people are the victims of human trafficking and that traffickers make $32 billion yearly from preying on the vulnerable. About 80% of all people trafficked worldwide are sexually exploited. Almost 25% of female victims of sex trafficking in India test positive for the HIV virus. You are most likely to be a victim of trafficking if you are poor, female and living in a developing country, a dictatorship and/or a region in conflict.

Perhaps the choice of heroines in this story was based on the theory that sensationalism sells more books.  Varkey is clearly a very talented writer and it is difficult not to get pulled into the story right from the beginning. For those who prefer the black and white certainty of old fashioned tales of good and evil, “The Girl Who Went Missing” is a consuming story, very well told. For those interested in the very real issues around sexual exploitation or wishing for a more realistic portrayal of trafficking of girls and women, there are better choices than “The Girl Who Went Missing.”

RWJ Recommendations

The Blue Notebook

The Blue Notebook tells the story of Batuk, a precocious fifteen-year-old girl from rural India who is sold into sexual slavery by her father. As she navigates the grim realities of Mumbai’s Common Street, Batuk manages to put pen to paper, recording her private thoughts and writing fantastic tales that help her transcend her daily existence.

Sold

Lakshmi, 13, knows nothing about the world beyond her village shack in the Himalayas of Nepal, and when her family loses the little it has in a monsoon, she grabs a chance to work as a maid in the city so she can send money back home. What she doesn’t know is that her stepfather has sold her into prostitution.

More Information on Human Trafficking

Human Rights Watch

HumanTrafficking.org

Polaris Project (Trafficking in the U.S.)


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Gypsy Hunted by Andrea Drew

gypsy hunted The First in the Gypsy Series by Andrea Drew

An intricate and fast-moving story told from multiple points of view make this paranormal thriller/romance stimulating and consuming.

From The Book Description:

Reluctant psychic Gypsy Shields (she prefers the term “intuition consultant”) finds herself in trouble when, on her way home from a blind date, she interrupts a kidnapping in progress. Her heroic attempt to intervene is repaid with a collision between the attacker’s van and a brick wall. She awakens in hospital, paralyzed on her left side and unable to speak. Unable to share vital information about the crime she witnessed. Fortunately, her telepathic connection with her niece helps her throw a line out, attracting the attention of a police detective: Connor Reardon, Gypsy’s date the night of the attack.

Stepping in to protect Gypsy, Connor even listens to her claims of psychic power. She soon senses he’s concealing certain powers of his own. Nor are they all he’s concealing. A part of Gypsy’s new ally’s mind is closed to her””what she cannot know is that Connor suspects the kidnapper is someone close to him, and the victim holds secrets that will tear through Connor’s department, putting careers and lives at risk. Including Gypsy’s, as she is left recovering in hospital and vulnerable as the attacker turns his sights on her once again.

Can she use her powers to track down the perpetrator in time to prevent her own murder?

R+W Journal Review

The heart of this supernatural suspense thriller (with a touch of romance, as the cover insists) is the heroine. She is quirky and flawed enough to be instantly sympathetic and someone most readers empathize with immediately. As a psychic who is conflicted about her gifts, or perhaps because of that conflict, Gypsy finds herself involved in a byzantine plot involving a kidnapping, partial paralysis, and a mystery that must be solved. Told from multiple points of view, author Andrea Drew not only draws the reader into Gypsy’s world, but deftly provides insight into the motivations (or supposed motivations) of the other characters.Gypsy Cradle pre-order

This first novel in the series requires both close reading and contemplation, and you may find yourself needing to stop a moment and collect your thoughts in order to catch up with where the story is going. By the end, however, you will be glad you put in the effort: Gypsy Hunted is the sort of book you will stay up late into to the night reading, only to wish there was more when you’ve finished it.

About the Author

Andrea Drew Author of Gypsy HuntedAndrea Drew has spent the last 10 years as a commercial copy writer, specializing in resumes, writing for start-ups, and marketing. Her book, “Pro Resumes Made Easy” has been downloaded over 40,000 times. She lives in Australia, with her husband and three children.

VISIT ANDREA DREW’S WEBSITE

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Fiction Titles by Andrea Drew

Twisted Tales by Andrea Drew

Gypsy Cradle by Andrea Drew

The Second in the Gypsy Series. PRE-ORDER NOW

 

Non-Fiction Titles by Andrea Drew

Pro Resumes Made Easy by Andrea Drew government job apps made easy by Andrea Drew

“Death in Sioux Lookout” by Richard Schwindt

death in sioux lookout by Richard Schwindt on AmazonA Haunting Murder Mystery Set in A Remote Ontario Town

“Death in Sioux Lookout” (Book One in the Death in Sioux Lookout Mystery Trilogy)  is both a fish out of water story and an intriguing mystery that reveals the truth about character and place as it twists and turns and surprises and tells the story of a love affair that has ended in murder. The novel follows Chris Allard, a social worker from Toronto who moves to a remote and starkly beautiful area of Northern Ontario for work.  He is very much a city dweller and the author presents his observations that way: they are the descriptions of someone seeing the beauty and strangeness of the area for the first time. The images of the landscape and people of the town of Sioux Lookout are poetic and evocative and create a perfect backdrop for the mystery.

Except for a few brief vignettes seen from other points of view that help set the story in context and move it forward, the story is told from the point of view of Chris Allard.  Early on in the novel, Allard, a social worker, says “On some level social workers are always calmed by the distress of others.” And though he is not without his emotional problems, Allard does, in fact, make a reliable narrator who is aware of his own flaws and the precariousness of his position, but still wades into the murder mystery.

The author’s sensitivity to character and his ability to create a sense of place that is integral to the story are what make this mystery so special.  It is similar, in some ways, to the work of Andrea Camilleri, whose mysteries cannot be separated from the place in which they take place. “Death in Sioux Lookout” is a top notch mystery that is at once haunting and enthralling and well worth reading.

Death at Sioux Lookout Trilogy on Amazon

About the Author

Author Richard SchwindtRichard Schwindt is a therapist, hypnotherapist and writer in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of the Sioux Lookout series, as well two other novels, a book and workbook on workplace bullying and a self-help book on how to recovery emotionally from infidelity.

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“They Cried Wolf” by Rafael

A Taut Political Thriller and a Werewolf Assassin

They Cried Wolf by Rafael on Amazon

A novel that is part political thriller, part commentary on the use of fear as a means of political control, part mystery and part paranormal adventure involving werewolves. In the hands of a less capable writer, the combination could have been convoluted to say the least. This novel, however, is suspenseful and gripping from the very beginning, and does not let up.

The President of the United States has unleashed a manufactured plague on his own citizens as a means to acquire more power. As Americans die in the tens of thousands, Congress is thrown into a panic and the President is able to convince them to give him unprecedented authority. Fear breeds compliance, and no one seems to notice that their basic rights are being quickly eroded. When the assassin who has served American presidents since Andrew Jackson, Diego, uncovers the perfidy, he begins to develop a plan to go from targeting others on behalf of the president to targeting the president himself. What no one knows is that Diego is a werewolf.

The character of Diego Constance is the driving force here, with his troubled past (some of which is only alluded to) and his horror at the President’s betrayal. He is multi-faceted and very real, despite the fact that he is supernatural.

Written in a tense, almost panicky tone that mimics the tone of the country and disaster that is being described, “They Cried Wolf” is able to create a sense of immediacy for the reader that is rare and that keeps the suspense high throughout. This is a thriller in the truest sense of the word. It is entertaining and absorbing as well as topical. The author is able to adeptly explore the topic of manufactured fear as a means of accumulating power while providing a captivating and exciting story that is thoroughly enjoyable.

“They Cried Wolf” is Now  Available as a Free Download for a Limited Time download they cried wolf free

 

Also by Rafael

The United States of Africa on AmazonAbout the Author

RafaelRafael was born and raised in New York City, a spectacular river of people from every part of the world and country flows through his hometown. It inspired him to travel the world, learning about other native habitats.
The insights his characters bring to the human condition reflect the many adventures and encounters along those journeys.

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