THE COPPER ROAD: Beyond the Promise by Richard Buxton

February 12, 2021

Shire’s Union, Book 2

From the publisher:

Shire is far, far from home, his old life in Victorian England a fading memory. To keep a promise to his childhood love, he’s sailed an ocean and battled through war-torn America.

He’s kept his promise, but now Clara’s pushing him away.
The war won’t let him go.

Fighting for the Union and his friends, Shire must survive the brutal campaign for Atlanta and imagine a future without her.

After a violent end to a cruel marriage, Clara is free from her husband but not from his ghost. All that is left to her is Comrie, her home in the Tennessee hills. But the war relentlessly steals away its treasures and its people.

Tod, a captured Rebel, escapes in Pennsylvania. His adventures on the roads and rivers back to his regiment cast the Civil War in a new light. Does he still have the will to fight?

Three young lives become wrapped in the Rebels’ desperate need for copper. Friendships, loyalty and love will be tested beyond breaking point. Shire has new promises to keep.

The Copper Road is the second novel from award winning writer Richard Buxton. Book one of Shire’s Union, Whirligig, was shortlisted for the Rubery International Book Award.


Richard Buxton who is not a citizen of the United States nor resides there gives us an extremely well-researched novel set in the final months of the Civil war that engulfed the U.S. in the 1860s. A slight kinship is to the Stephen Crane The Red Badge of Courage which dealt with a young soldier finding the courage to go into combat. The difference in the books is that Buxton presents combat as a horror involving killing in large quantities with dead and maimed men spread out over what are just killing fields. There is nothing noble about the death depicted in his novel.   

Shire is a young man that has followed Clara, a childhood friend of his, from England to the United States in order to care for her.  Clara has married and left for America to be with her new husband, a man not exactly enamored by his prospective father-in-law and also Shire. Due to circumstances Shire finds himself a soldier fighting for the north in the Civil war raging when he arrives.  At the same time, Clara’s new husband has been killed in the war placing his widow as head of property he owns in the state of Tennessee.      

A third character, Tod, enters the picture as he is escaping from a Yankee prison of war train taking Confederate prisoners to incarceration. The novel tells the stories of the three principal characters as their lives interwind in the midst of the war.  Tod and Shire somehow meet in the midst of combat, each fighting for a different army and immediately form a liking for each other which brings them together over the near future. Clara and Tod also meet when both are passengers on a steamboat and are drawn into a sexual encounter which has bearing later on.     

Allowing for the literary license which depends on farfetched coincidences to occur at the proper times Buxton’s book is an interesting read. It is not an all-night draw due to several over-long descriptions of different situations but is a novel that is sufficiently interesting for the well-done descriptions of actual military events of the war.

2/2021 Paul Lane

THE COPPER ROAD: Beyond the Promise by Richard Buxton. Ocoee Publishing (July 23, 2020). ISBN: 978-0995769335. 442 pages.

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TWENTY by James Grippando

February 10, 2021

Jack Swyteck Novel, Book 17

From the publisher:

Jack Swyteck and his family are caught in the crossfire after a deadly school shooting claims twenty casualties—Florida’s fifth mass shooting in as many years—in this provocative and timely thriller from Harper Lee Prize–winner James Grippando that touches on some of the most contentious issues roiling America today.

It is the message every parent of a school-age child fears: “Active Shooter on Campus.” 

Jack Swyteck is at his office when he receives the emergency text from Riverside Day School. Both his daughter, Righley, and his wife, FBI agent Andie Henning, are in danger. Andie is in the school’s rec center when she hears the fire alarms, then loud popping noises and screams coming from the hallway. A trained law-enforcement officer, Andie knows she’s supposed to stay locked down inside the room. But Righley is in her kindergarten classroom and Andie must get her to safety.

The tragedy prompts mass hysteria—and dangerous speculation. The police haven’t identified the shooter, but they find a handgun on the school grounds registered to a parent, a Muslim man named Amir Khoury. News of the gun and its owner leaks and quickly goes viral. Within minutes Al Qaeda claims responsibility. Andie is shocked—Amir is married to her friend, Lilly, a WASP whose bloodline goes back to the American Revolution. 

When Xavier, Amir and Lilly’s oldest child and an eighteen-year-old senior at Riverside confesses to the crime, the local community’s anti-Muslim fervor explodes to levels unseen since 9/11. Terrified for her son’s life, Lilly asks Jack to step in. A seasoned defense attorney with a passion to see justice done, he’s taken on plenty of complicated cases. Xavier’s, however, is not one he’s inclined to take—until an old friend who lost his daughter in the shooting tells him that he must.  

With the public calling for blood and prosecutors confident their case is air tight, Jack must unearth the Khourys’ family secrets in order to expose the shocking truth and save his client from certain death. But he may not be able to save everyone—including himself.


Twenty is the 17th novel James Grippando has published featuring Jack Swyteck and his family as the centers of the story. The title of the book is a reference to the twentieth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, events that forced the U.S. and its allies to begin a war against radical terrorism. I came away from reading this novel with the impression that Grippando, definitely a top-tier author of books, has somehow surpassed himself coming out with the gripping read to top all gripping reads.

The story begins with a mass shooting at a private school in Miami, and one that is attended by Swyteck’s daughter Righley who is a kindergartener there. Both Jack and his wife Andie find out about the shooting and rush over to the school to ascertain that their daughter is not hurt. Andie is an agent for the FBI but is not permitted to carry her gun when entering school grounds. She reacts instinctively by just standing guard at the kindergarten area holding a fire extinguisher as the only weapon she can put her hands on.

When the crisis is calmed one of the high school boys stands up and admits he did the shooting. With the deaths and wounding are tallied up the parents scream for blood calling for an immediate death sentence for the boy that confessed. While Jack is totally against representing the confessed killer, he is talked into it by one of the parents of a girl wounded in the attack. The rationale for the request is that it will probably spare all concerned from having their children forced to testify over and over again about the attack if the death penalty is sought by the prosecution. If the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for multiple life sentences it will end quickly and allow those grieving to come to grips with their anguish.

Public opinion is slanted by the fact that the father of the boy confessing to the shootings is Muslim and first opinions postulate that he radicalized his son and masterminded the murders. With the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 coming up it is not difficult to read terrorist activity into an already flammable situation which is described very well by the author. The reader will not be able to absent himself or herself from getting on the emotional rollercoaster that is set up quite well by Grippando. An all nighter? How could it not be and then some.

2/2021 Paul Lane

TWENTY by James Grippando. Harper (January 5, 2021). ISBN: 978-0062915085. 384 pages.

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THE LOVE PROOF by Madeleine Henry

February 9, 2021

THE LOVE PROOF by Madeleine Henry. Atria Books (February 9, 2021). ISBN 978-1982142964. 304 pages.

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THE SCORPION’S TAIL by Lincoln Child & Douglas Preston

February 7, 2021

Nora Kelly, Book 2

From the publisher:

From #1 bestselling authors Preston & Child comes a thrilling novel following archaeologist Nora Kelly and FBI Agent Corrie Swanson as they work together to solve a twisted crime that reaches far beyond any of their worst fears.Following the acclaimed debut of Old Bones, this second “happily anticipated” new thriller in Preston & Child’s series features Nora Kelly, archaeologist at the Santa Fe Archeological Institute, and rookie FBI Agent Corrie Swanson, as they team up to solve a mystery that quickly escalates into nightmare (Booklist).

A mummified corpse, over half a century old, is found in the cellar of an abandoned building in a remote New Mexico ghost town. Corrie is assigned what seems to her a throwaway case: to ID the body and determine cause of death. She brings archaeologist Nora Kelly to excavate the body and lend her expertise to the investigation, and together they uncover something unexpected and shocking: the deceased apparently died in agony, in a fetal position, skin coming off in sheets, with a rictus of horror frozen on his face.

Hidden on the corpse lies a 16th century Spanish gold cross of immense value.

When they at last identify the body — and the bizarre cause of death — Corrie and Nora open a door into a terrifying, secret world of ancient treasure and modern obsession: a world centered on arguably the most defining, frightening, and transformative moment in American history.


The team of Child and Preston have been giving their readers well-done novels for many years. The duo has the knack of formulating an interesting plot coupled with crisp writing making for a flow that captures the imagination of their readers. 

The current novel utilizes Corrie Swanson a relatively new agent of the FBI and Nora Kelly an archaeologist to tell the story of a plot originating centuries ago. The action takes place in an area near to and on the White Sands New Mexico military base. A mummified corpse is discovered buried in the cellar of an abandoned building in a New Mexico ghost town. Probably thinking that checking the body after so many years would be a relatively simple thing to do Corrie’s supervisor assigns the investigation to her thinking that it would give her some more field experience with a relatively easy finish.     

In her initial investigation, Corrie finds evidence that would require the services of someone trained in archaeology and she contacts Nora who has worked with her on a previous case. Findings arise that indicate that the roots of what has been found date back about 400 years and initiating in the country of Mexico. A sheriff enters the investigation when findings indicate that the body may have been as a result of murder. He is a young man and a bit of mutual attraction begins between Corrie and him. Possibly something for the authors to continue in future books involving Corrie.     

The book is an interesting one and does incorporate research done by the authors which peak up the interest for the reader. No problem in continuing to look for and read novels by the team. They also have written books individually giving rise to the question: do they sleep?

2/2021 Paul Lane

THE SCORPION’S TAIL by Lincoln Child & Douglas Preston. Grand Central Publishing (January 12, 2021). ISBN: 978-1538747278. 416 pages.

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TEN RULES FOR FAKING IT by Sophie Sullivan

February 6, 2021

TEN RULES FOR FAKING IT by Sophie Sullivan. St. Martin’s Griffin (December 29, 2020). ISBN: 978-1250624161. 384 pages.

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THE FOUR WINDS by Kristin Hannah

February 5, 2021

THE FOUR WINDS by Kristin Hannah. St. Martin’s Press (February 2, 2021). ISBN: 978-1250178602 . 464 pages.

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THE UNWILLING by John Hart

February 2, 2021

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From the publisher:

Set in the South at the height of the Vietnam War, The Unwilling combines crime, suspense and searing glimpses into the human mind and soul in New York Times bestselling author John Hart’s singular style.

Gibby’s older brothers have already been to war. One died there. The other came back misunderstood and hard, a decorated killer now freshly released from a three-year stint in prison.

Jason won’t speak of the war or of his time behind bars, but he wants a relationship with the younger brother he hasn’t known for years. Determined to make that connection, he coaxes Gibby into a day at the lake: long hours of sunshine and whisky and older women.

But the day turns ugly when the four encounter a prison transfer bus on a stretch of empty road. Beautiful but drunk, one of the women taunts the prisoners, leading to a riot on the bus. The woman finds it funny in the moment, but is savagely murdered soon after.

Given his violent history, suspicion turns first to Jason; but when the second woman is kidnapped, the police suspect Gibby, too. Determined to prove Jason innocent, Gibby must avoid the cops and dive deep into his brother’s hidden life, a dark world of heroin, guns and outlaw motorcycle gangs.

What he discovers there is a truth more disturbing than he could have imagined: not just the identity of the killer and the reasons for Tyra’s murder, but the forces that shaped his brother in Vietnam, the reason he was framed, and why the most dangerous man alive wants him back in prison.

This is crime fiction at its most raw, an exploration of family and the past, of prison and war and the indelible marks they leave.


John Hart presents his latest novel based in the south of the United States during the Vietnam war. The wide-ranging and compelling story involves the price soldiers pay for fighting in war, family ties, an organized world of master criminals, and the coming of age of a young man.

Gabriel (Gibby’s) two older brothers have already fought in the war – one was killed in action, the other received a dishonorable discharge, and came home only to be sent to prison where he served several years. Their father is a long time police detective married to the love of his life, a lady whose background includes being an heiress. Gibby’s mother blames Jason, the brother returning from war, for the death of his brother, and refuses to see him. She has also made it clear to her husband that he is not to allow Gibby to meet with Jason as that would expose him to a bad influence.

But blood ties will out and Gibby secretly meets Jason spending a day with him and the company of two women. During the day one of the women manages to taunt a busload of convicts being transported along a public highway. These prisoners are from the institution that Jason had served his time in, and a master criminal actually running the inside of the jail arranges for the murder of the woman that did the taunting.

Jason is blamed for the murder and re-sent to the jail he had served his sentence in for safekeeping while awaiting trial. The events see Gibby deciding to prove his brother innocent of the murder and with the help of his best friend and a young lady that is becoming his girlfriend, go after the facts proving that Jason is innocent.

Hart tells the story with attention to building the characters of the principal protagonists, including that of a psychopathic killer awaiting execution at the prison. His prose flows freely and easily brings his readers into a mesmerized state while enjoying the book. A definite all-night read with another fascinating book to John Hart’s credit.

2/2021 Paul Lane

THE UNWILLING by John Hart. St. Martin’s Press (February 2, 2021). ISBN: 978-1250167729. 384 p.

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FOOL ME TWICE by Jeff Lindsay

January 22, 2021

Riley Wolfe, Book 2

From the publisher:

Pulling off an impossible crime is the only way he can stay alive.

Stealing a Faberge egg. Surviving a double cross. And pulling off the most incredible robbery ever, for the world’s most demanding—and dangerous collector.

This will be the challenge of thief extraordinaire Riley Wolfe’s life.

Fool Me Twice opens in St. Petersburg, where Riley steals the egg—no easy task. Betrayed by the pilot he hired to help him get away, he wakes chained to a rock wall on one of the Kerguelen Islands—the most remote spot on earth—prisoner of a top-dog international arms dealer, and a top-notch art collector. He wants Riley to steal an artwork. Small problem–it’s a fresco, “The Liberation of St. Peter.” Slightly larger problem–it’s in the Vatican.

And, it’s a literal wall.

Riley has no choice: agree or die. But when his captor turns him loose, he’s grabbed by another arms dealer looking to do a double cross. Worse, he gives Riley a special incentive: a surveillance photograph of Monique, the love of his life, and more important, the art forger he can’t pull off any heist without. The threat is clear. Riley knows they both have only one way out. 

With wicked dialogue, tons of explosive twists, and cinema-worthy scenes, Jeff Lindsay’s Fool Me Twice is another wildly entertaining caper starring the anti-hero you’ll root for, Riley Wolfe.


Jeff Lindsay’s second novel featuring Riley Wolfe who as fans know is a thief – not an ordinary one robbing banks or holding up armored cars but one that has long since made himself very wealthy and just lives for the thrill of doing the impossible. He is a man that seeks the challenge of an impossible score and then sits back and enjoys the adulation due him. 

This book opens with Riley in St Petersburg, Russia where our hero pulls off the theft of a priceless Faberge egg under the noses of a group of guards and protective devices. When boarding the boat that he has hired to take him out of Russia he is betrayed by the pilot and delivered to the secret island hideaway of the world’s biggest arms dealer. Held captive for several days he then hears what his captor wants from him and it is about as impossible as it gets. The man wants him to steal a fresco which is art painted on a wall.  Not only is the problem of how to transport a wall if he gets it, but the location of the painting which is in the Vatican as the clincher. Riley is told in no uncertain terms that his life would be forfeit if he doesn’t deliver.     

Buying time Riley agrees to the job and is let go by Mr. Big.  Then to compound his problems he is next seized by another arm’s dealer who wants Riley to get the Fresco and while delivering it to the first individual arrange for entrance onto Mr Big’s island fortress where number two will become number one by process of elimination. Riley has a sort of love interest although Monique, the lady in question’s prime function for him is to forge art used in his work. He is shown a picture of her as number two dealer also includes her life in the deal. We have to understand that at some point in the future Jeff Lindsay will probably set up the pair as lovers at the same time that they are working on nefarious schemes together. He, therefore, is anxious to keep the criminals away from her as well as saving his own life.     

As in Lindsay’s previous novels including those featuring Dexter, the serial killer that only kills other serial killers the action is fast, the dialogue snappy and the reader will not be able to set the book down until finished.  If the author continues with the success enjoyed by featuring loveable rogues what type of character will he showcase for his next portrayal of a bent character?  It will make for a delightful mystery while we wait for anything written by him. 

1/2021 Paul Lane

FOOL ME TWICE by Jeff Lindsay. Dutton (December 1, 2020). ISBN: 978-1524743970. 368 pages.

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BONE CHASE by Weston Ochse

January 18, 2021

From the publisher:

In true The Da Vinci Code fashion, a taut thriller filled with rival factions vying for control of the truth in a giant global conspiracy.

There were giants on the earth in those days—at least that’s what the Bible says. But, where are they? Did they ever really exist at all?

When out-of-work math teacher Ethan McCloud is sent a mysterious box, he and his ex-girlfriend begin to unravel a mystery 10,000 years in the making—and he is the last hope to discovering the world’s greatest conspiracy. Chased by both the Six-Fingered Man and the Council of David, Ethan must survive the chase—and find the truth.


The author presents a novel about a hunt for giants that have ostensibly been living on earth since prehistoric times.  He intersperses references from various written sources about contacts and proof that such a race has been existing among regular-size humans for centuries.

Ethan McCloud, a laid-off teacher of mathematics, receives a box from his father who has suddenly died with a plea to continue the work started by his dad and many others.  Preparing to begin a search for the truth about the existence of giants Ethan gets a note from an ex-girlfriend of his that left him to join the army.  They meet and both immediately recognize that they need to be together.  The difference is that his ex-girlfriend is now a trained killer who supplies the machismo in the story while Ethan comes out as a timid soul.  Okay, turnabout is fair play and we go with this – about time no?     

In the process of attempting to find the truth about the existence or not of a race of giants Ethan and his now accompanying girlfriend – Shannon- find that there are two groups who have and are involved in contact with the giants.  One is the good guys the other the not-so-good guys. A lot of the activity in the novel is checking these groups out to see which is which. The giants leave traces of bones from their dead bodies delineating a race that might be anywhere from 12 feet all the way up to 30 feet.  Both groups looking for them have, of course, been rivals and enemies for many years but both behave very nicely with Ethan.  Certainly not the killers that one associates with evil.     

Bone Chase is an easy to read novel that does not command staying with it until finished in one gulp. It is a book that is entertaining and allows a pleasant read when the reader wants to read just for reading and does so casually relaxed.

1/2021 Paul Lane

BONE CHASE by Weston Ochse. Gallery / Saga Press (December 1, 2020). ISBN: 978-1534450097. 336 pages.

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HOW TO FAIL AT FLIRTING by Denise Williams

January 17, 2021

https://amzn.to/3ibSeAI

HOW TO FAIL AT FLIRTING by Denise Williams. Berkley (December 1, 2020). ISBN 978-0593101902. 352 pages.

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