ONE BY ONE by Ruth Ware

September 9, 2020


From the publisher:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Turn of the Key and In a Dark Dark Wood returns with another suspenseful thriller set on a snow-covered mountain.

Getting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world. Especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm, and others to keep you company. Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers…each with something to gain, something to lose, and something to hide.

When the cofounder of Snoop, a trendy London-based tech startup, organizes a weeklong trip for the team in the French Alps, it starts out as a corporate retreat like any other: PowerPoint presentations and strategy sessions broken up by mandatory bonding on the slopes. But as soon as one shareholder upends the agenda by pushing a lucrative but contentious buyout offer, tensions simmer and loyalties are tested. The storm brewing inside the chalet is no match for the one outside, however, and a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from all access to the outside world. Even worse, one Snooper hadn’t made it back from the slopes when the avalanche hit.

As each hour passes without any sign of rescue, panic mounts, the chalet grows colder, and the group dwindles further…one by one.

Ruth Ware continues her writing of solidly written, entertaining, and well-plotted novels with a murder mystery set in a ski resort that has been snowbound due to a major storm. Erin and Danny work for a company that leases rooms at these resorts to people interested in spending a few days both on the ski slopes as well as having the luxury of a well-run hotel at their disposal. Danny is the chef and the person preparing the meals for the guests with Erin acting both as the hostess and the maid for them. We learn early on that Erin has a background that includes a major personal crisis.

As the story opens, a group from a tech company named “Snoop” which has successfully developed a product that can follow anybody electronically without their knowledge and allow them to be spied upon, has booked the resort for a few days. They are in the process of possibly receiving a buy out by another company which will mean fortunes for the current stockholders: all of whom are at the meeting. There are two of the guests that are opposed to the buy out feeling that once their product is released to the public the stock they own will be worth more than any purchase by another company.

Since the group is at a ski resort it is decided that they will go out and do a downhill run on their first day there. There are a few good skiers among them coupled with others with lesser skills. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes immediately. One of the groups with lesser ability does not return to the resort with the others. Using their own product the determination is made that that woman’s phone is buried under tons of snow and that she must have been killed. The police are called but cannot come immediately due to the imminent arrival of a major snowstorm. That storm hits and causes the resort to become isolated with no possibility of either leaving or having anyone come to them.

In the vein of Agatha Christie’s classic “And Then There Were None,” people begin dying bringing terror to the group afraid of being next on whatever list is being used to decide who is to be killed. The story is told via a series of first-person narratives and we clearly follow the plot until a good who done it reaches its inevitable end. The use of a ski resort being snowed in provides an interesting twist to Ware’s tale of murder and is another landmark on her reputation as a skilled author.

9/2020 Paul Lane

ONE BY ONE by Ruth Ware. Gallery/Scout Press (September 8, 2020). ISBN: 978-1501188817. 384 pages.



CALL OF THE RAVEN by Wilbur Smith

September 8, 2020


From the publisher:

‘The right of the cat over the mouse, of the strong over the weak. The natural law of existence.’ Augustus Mungo St John, A Falcon Flies

The son of a wealthy plantation owner and a doting mother, Augustus Mungo St John is accustomed to the wealth and luxuries his privilege has afforded him. That is until he returns from university to discover his family ruined, his inheritance stolen and his childhood sweetheart, Camilla, taken by the conniving Chester Marion. Fuelled by anger, and love, Mungo swears vengeance and devotes his life to saving Camilla – and destroying Chester.

Camilla, trapped in New Orleans and powerless to her position as a kept slave and Chester’s brutish behaviour, must learn to do whatever it takes to survive.

As Mungo battles his own fate and misfortune to achieve the revenge that drives him, and regain his power in the world, he must question what it takes for a man to survive when he has nothing, and what he is willing to do in order to get what he wants.

An action-packed and gripping adventure by bestselling author, Wilbur Smith, about one man’s quest for revenge, the brutality of slavery in America and the imbalance between humans that can drive – or defeat – us.

The author is a very well established South African born writer of tales of high adventure featuring leading protagonists of mighty heroes and dastardly villains. Each of these is portrayed as larger than life, in love with gorgeous women. The heroes usually get the girl and the villains their just desserts and we see great deeds done in righting all wrongs.

The current book utilizes a different slant on things. Mungo St. John is the son of wealthy plantation owners in the American south of the 1840s. Slavery has been used as sources of cheap labor since time immemorial and Mungo reaps the rewards of cheap labor when he goes off to attend university in England.

Called back from his studies, he returns home and finds that his parents have been killed and their plantation seized by the very evil Chester Marion. And to put a capstone on the evil done him, his childhood and adult love Camilla, who was actually a slave, has been taken by the brute. Mungo declares that he will find a way to destroy Chester Marion, take back what is his and kill the brute that has wronged him.

He gets work on a ship that is involved in the transport of slaves from Africa to Havana where they will be sent to buyers in the U.S. In most of Smith’s books Mungo would not get involved with the hideous crime of buying and selling human beings but in this novel he does in order to make the money needed to destroy Chester Martin.

In my opinion, Smith’s use of flawed characters makes “Call of the Raven” stand out as one of his top novels, and that is among the many excellent works that he has already had published. An excellent and exciting read and obviously one that will cause Wilbur Smith’s fan club to continue to grow.

9/2020 Paul Lane

CALL OF THE RAVEN by Wilbur Smith. Zaffre (September 8, 2020). ISBN: 978-1499862294. 448p.



September 3, 2020

9/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THREE SINGLE WIVES by Gina LaManna. Henry Holt and Co. (July 28, 2020). ISBN 978-1250266491. 352p.




August 25, 2020


David Slaton Series, Book 6

From the publisher:

USA Today bestselling author Ward Larsen’s globe-trotting, hard-hitting assassin, David Slaton, returns for another breathless adventure in Assassin’s Strike!

In a Syrian palace, the presidents of Russia and Iran undertake a clandestine meeting. No staff or advisors are permitted in the room. No records are kept. By necessity, however, there are two witnesses: the interpreters. The Russian, Ludmilla Kravchuk, returns to her hotel room burdened by what she has heard. When her Iranian counterpart is murdered before her eyes, Kravchuk fears she is next and goes into hiding in Syria.

The CIA gets word of the defection. Desperate to uncover the purpose of the meeting, they task their newest off-the-books operator―legendary assassin David Slaton―to undertake a daring rescue. Deep inside Syria’s war-torn borders, what Slaton finds is a plot that will tear the Middle East apart. And one that only he can stop.

Ward Larson has created one of the more interesting protagonists in fiction in the person of David Slaton. Slaton is an assassin; a very proficient one doing the bidding of his employers who were at first the Mosad; Israeli secret service and currently the CIA, He was granted political asylum in the U.S. with the help of one of the top managers of the Central Intelligence Agency who suggested when doing so that they might ask certain professional favors from Slaton which he would be free to either accept or reject.

During a secret meeting between the presidents of Russia and Iran held in Syria certain information is exchanged between these men which only they and the two translators working the meeting are aware of. Ludmilla Kravchuk, the translator for Russia witnesses her Iranian counterpart killed after the meeting between the two presidents finishes. She realizes that the two translators have heard an exchange that must remain secret and makes the obvious decision that she must flee and via local contacts she had when in Syria previously gets the United States interested in getting her into the U.S. and hearing her story. Slaton’s supervisor thinks of him as the ideal individual to send into Syria to bring Ludmilla out. No problem in his accepting the job as the action is what he craves and goes after.

The story of David Slaton’s work in trying to effect Ludmilla’s escape brings to bear Ward Larson’s talent in creating bated breath action and another book by him that keeps the reader glued to the pages. In addition to bringing Ludmilla out of Syria Slaton must become involved in the situation described in the talks between the two presidents and attempt to rectify the problem. Events in the book move rapidly between Syria, Iraq, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. We can certainly look forward to more action-packed novels featuring David Slaton and the probability of all night glued to the books when they are published.

8/2020 Paul Lane

ASSASSIN’S STRIKE by Ward Larson. Forge Books (August 18, 2020). ISBN: 978-0765391568. 336 pages.




August 18, 2020


Lucas Page Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

A series of deadly explosions rock the city of New York and with too many victims and no known motive, the F.B.I. turns once again to Dr. Lucas Page in Robert Pobi’s Under Pressure.

On a beautiful October evening, New York City’s iconic Guggenheim Museum is closed for a tech company’s private gala. Until an explosion rocks the night, instantly killing 702 people, including every single attendee―yet the damage to the building itself was minimal.

An explosion of that precision was no accident and, in response, the FBI mobilizes its entire team — but the sheer number of victims strains their resources. Were all 702 victims in the wrong place at the wrong time, or was there only one target and 701 unlucky bystanders? That many victim files is a staggering amount of data to sort through and Brett Kehoe, Special Agent in Charge of Manhattan, decides that he can’t do this without more computational power.

Dr. Lucas Page, astrophysicist, university professor, and former FBI agent, is uniquely gifted for the task at hand―he can visualize a crime scene as if he was a bystander and can break down any set of data at a glance. Even though Page wants nothing to do with the FBI, with his city under attack and his family at risk, he steps in to find a killer in a haystack before they strike again.

This is the second book featuring Dr. Lucas Page and while certain events from book one are important to the story, they are brought out by the author and allow the reader to understand those that are germane to the present novel. Dr. Page was working as an agent for the FBI when he became involved in a horrific accident. He lost the sight of one eye and required a prosthetic for his leg. But the accident did not rob him of a very peculiar talent that he had and retains. He can visualize a crime scene as if he were a bystander and break down any set of data at a glance.

Due to his disability, he no longer works full time for the FBI but apparently, he will become available if needed to help with certain crimes. The opening of the novel finds Lucas, his wife, and children enjoying the seashore at a location far out on Long Island. The famed Guggenheim museum becomes the site of a bomb placed which does major damage to the building and kills a large number of people. The museum had been closed to the public while hosting a leading tech company’s private gala hosting a large group celebrating a forthcoming issue of stock. Other explosions also go off, and the FBI launches a full-court investigation. In addition, Lucas Page is called to come in and help in the investigation using his special skills.

The action is structured like any normal detective story, although featuring descriptions of the enormous amount of fatalities coupled with gruesome looks at victims literally blown apart with their bodies in many areas. Lucas is shown using his not inconsiderable talents to solve the case with the help of a female agent. He also calls on students he teaches at the university to help his efforts.

It is probable that Pobi plans additional novels undoubtedly centered on more horrific crimes with Page leading the charge of his own small group of assistants. The novel is entertaining, although possibly more than a little difficult to take with the vivid descriptions of horrible deaths as part and parcel of the action.

8/2020 Paul Lane

UNDER PRESSURE by Robert Pobi. Minotaur Books (August 4, 2020). ISBN: 978-1250293961. 448 pages.



THEN SHE VANISHED by T. Jefferson Parker

August 16, 2020


Roland Ford Series, Book 4

From the publisher:

What if the client who’s hired you can’t be trusted…and the woman you’re looking for doesn’t want to be found? With Then She Vanished, three-time Edgar Award winner and New York Times-bestselling author T. Jefferson Parker delivers a new and pulse-pounding thriller.

Private Investigator Roland Ford has taken a job for a fellow Marine and a rising politician, Dalton Strait. Strait is contending with unexplained bombings of government buildings in his district…but that is not why he hired Ford. Strait’s wife, Natalie, has gone missing, leaving behind a cryptic plea for help. Strait has made many enemies during his time in politics–including some of his own family members–all of whom could be looking for revenge. But as Ford digs into the details of a troubled marriage, Natalie’s disappearance becomes more and more complicated.

Meanwhile, the bombings in the city intensify, with a mysterious group known only as the Chaos Committee claiming responsibility. Ford soon learns that the seemingly random attacks may be connected to the case he’s on–and suddenly, his hunt for a missing woman might decide the fate of an entire city.

Roland Ford is a private detective that has appeared previously in Parker novels. In the current book, he has been asked by a fellow ex-Marine to find his wife who has disappeared and feared kidnapped. Dalton Strait the man whose wife has vanished is currently in the midst of a political campaign and indicates that he does not have the time to properly dedicate to searching for his wife. Concurrently happening at the same time as Dalton’s wife’s disappearance is a series of bombings and threats by a radical group calling themselves The Chaos Committee. The group makes public announcements calling for an overthrow of all current government agencies and supporting their demands with shooting and killings of police officers in California: the locale of the story.

Appearing with the Chaos Committee’s demands are various glimpses of Natalie, Dalton’s wife in which she could either be a prisoner or could also be allied with the Committee. And to complicate matters even more, Ford begins to doubt that he can trust Dalton. The novel goes into the search for Natalie and also the activities of the Chaos Committee which seems to have relevance to the kidnapping. And, oh yes, looks like Roland Ford has found himself a love interest along the way. Busy man.

The problems I found with this novel are the constant conversations and descriptions of everything and everybody that really do get somewhat tedious to go through in reaching the conclusion. The action is noted rapidly and is over when more descriptions are thrown in taking the story from a five-star read which is the author’s norm, to one that is not at his level.

8/2020 Paul Lane

THEN SHE VANISHED by T. Jefferson Parker.  G.P. Putnam’s Sons (August 11, 2020). ISBN: 978-0525537670. 352 pages.



THE MOSSAD JOB by Menahem Misgav

August 14, 2020


From the publisher:

Back in the old days they used to do it for a living.

Now, they are looking for a revenge.

Rotem is a retired Mossad agent, a proud grandfather and a man who enjoys life to the fullest. One day while on a trip to Europe with his wife, he listens to an interview on local radio that utterly infuriates him.

The interviewee, Meshulam Muller, is a Dutch Jew who immigrated to Israel, was recruited into the ranks of the Mossad, and was subsequently fired from the organization while still in training. Ever since, he has been busy dealing in expensive works of art and most of all, tarnishing the reputation of the organization in every possible forum.

With the same focus and determination of his best days in action, Rotem decides to gather some friends who served with him in the Mossad. After so many years of Muller bad mouthing the organization that is so sacred to them, they decided to run a sting operation on Muller. This brilliant and precise scam will scare and embarrass him.

However, the members of the team, who were so used to being at the cutting edge, realize that times have changed. Situations they had never known in their operative past upset their reality through and through and with it, their entire operation…

A fascinating look into the Israeli Mossad the top tier of the Israeli clandestine spy organizations. The author apparently did not serve in the Mossad, but his insights into the organization seem to be founded on some inside information. The novel has an interesting plot, a cast of characters that are depicted as having served with the Mossad and are currently retired, and the villain of the piece who briefly served with the Mossad but was let go by them as being unfit for duty.

Meshulam Muller is a Dutch Jew that emigrated to Israel, joined the Mossad but was found unfit for the group and let go. Since his departure from the spy organization he has been dealing in expensive works of art and at the same time making sure that he continuously works at tarnishing the reputation of his short-term employer. Rotem is an honorably retired member of the Mossad; a proud grandfather and living with the love of his life. While on a trip to Europe with his wife he hears a radio broadcast by Muller the content of which infuriates him. He decides to exact revenge and does so in true Mossad fashion. He assembles a team, draws up an operation plan, and paying attention to the details proceeds to set up a scam on Muller. This is not to kill him but to get the man to give them a sum of money approximately equal to the funds he gained via utilizing the attacks on the Mossad. The aim is to get the money, donate it to charity and make Muller aware that he has been scammed.

The operation is described with the various retired Mossad agents playing the parts that approximate what they did while active. The novel is a short one and lends itself quite neatly to starting and finishing it in one comfortable read. It is also a reason to look for Misgav’s next book.

8/2020 Paul Lane

THE MOSSAD JOB by Menahem Misgav. Independently published (May 7, 2020). ISBN: 979-8643989912. 172 pages.


THE SILENT WIFE by Karin Slaughter

August 10, 2020


Will Trent, Book 10

From the publisher:

He watches. He waits. He takes. Who will be next . . .


The New York Times bestselling author of Pieces of Her and The Last Widow returns with another electrifying thriller.

Investigating the killing of a prisoner during a riot inside a state penitentiary, GBI investigator Will Trent is confronted with disturbing information. One of the inmates claims that he is innocent of a brutal attack for which he has always been the prime suspect. The man insists that he was framed by a corrupt law enforcement team led by Jeffrey Tolliver and that the real culprit is still out there—a serial killer who has systematically been preying on women across the state for years. If Will reopens the investigation and implicates the dead police officer with a hero’s reputation of wrongdoing, the opportunistic convict is willing to provide the information GBI needs about the riot murder.

Only days ago, another young woman was viciously murdered in a state park in northern Georgia. Is it a fluke, or could there be a serial killer on the loose?

As Will Trent digs into both crimes it becomes clear that he must solve the cold case in order to find the answer. Yet nearly a decade has passed—time for memories to fade, witnesses to vanish, evidence to disappear, and lies to become truth. But Will can’t crack either mystery without the help of the one person he doesn’t want involved: his girlfriend and Jeffrey Tolliver’s widow, medical examiner Sara Linton.

When the past and present begin to collide, Will realizes that everything he values is at stake . . .

A brilliantly conceived story about a psychopath and one that is a complete one. A fiend that preys upon young women, capturing them, torturing them, and then raping their bodies after he has killed them. The author has used Will Trent, a detective with a police department in The Atlanta Georgia area, and his girlfriend Doctor Sara Linton, who is the medical examiner for the same police force. This is the 10th book featuring the two in the series, and I must comment that I like Slaughter’s treatment of them. They are normal police personnel, not super-beings pulling solutions miraculously out of the air. Both are dedicated to solving cases and bringing criminals to justice by slowly, but surely obtaining evidence in solving the crime.

In the book’s opening, Will is visiting a prison to interview a prisoner when he is pulled into talking to another man that claims he is innocent of a murder of a young woman and should not be jailed. Will, in thinking over what the second man told him, brings the situation to his department head and they decide to look into the matter. Their investigations unearth a series of murders in an area around Atlanta going back several years.

Karin Slaughter describes what has happened to the girls in great detail and it is not light reading. The descriptions describe the torture inflicted on them and the reader needs to understand that it is not gratuitous horror but the author’s need to bring out what women can go through when sick men decide to “punish” them. In an afterward, Slaughter does indicate that it was one of her intentions to bring out this situation.

Will and Sara’s group begin unearthing similar crimes that occurred in areas to the north of Atlanta and judicious study uncovers similar physical damages to the women inflicted by the murderer and which betray a knowledge of anatomy. Sara rereads accounts of the previous murders and skillfully sets up a profile of the killer. In two cases the victim has survived but will never completely recover mentally.

Slaughter describes the attempts to interview them, with both Will and Sara devastated by the accounts. The book is absolutely one that must be finished in one mesmerizing period after which some relaxation is necessary and time out awaiting the author’s next novel.

8/2020 Paul Lane

THE SILENT WIFE by Karin Slaughter. William Morrow (August 4, 2020). ISBN: 978-0062858108. 496 pages.



THE HOLLOW ONES by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan

August 8, 2020


Blackwood Tapes, Book 1

From the publisher:

A horrific crime that defies explanation, a rookie FBI agent in uncharted territory, and an extraordinary hero for the ages: an investigation spirals out of control in this heart-pounding thriller.

Odessa Hardwicke’s life is derailed when she’s forced to turn her gun on her partner, Walt Leppo, a decorated FBI agent who turns suddenly, inexplicably violent while apprehending a rampaging murderer. The shooting, justified by self-defense, shakes the young FBI agent to her core. Devastated, Odessa is placed on desk leave pending a full investigation. But what most troubles Odessa isn’t the tragedy itself — it’s the shadowy presence she thought she saw fleeing the deceased agent’s body after his death.

Questioning her future with the FBI and her sanity, Hardwicke accepts a low-level assignment to clear out the belongings of a retired agent in the New York office. What she finds there will put her on the trail of a mysterious figure named Hugo Blackwood, a man of enormous means who claims to have been alive for centuries, and who is either an unhinged lunatic, or humanity’s best and only defense against unspeakable evil.

From the authors who brought you The Strain Trilogy comes a strange, terrifying, and darkly wondrous world of suspense, mystery, and literary horror. The Hollow Ones is a chilling, spell-binding tale, a hauntingly original new fable from Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro and bestselling author Chuck Hogan featuring their most fascinating character yet.

A novel diving deeply into an occult scenario and immersing the reader into various intellectual exercises throughout the book. The story involves two leading individuals; the first is Odessa Hardwicke a new FBI agent and the other is John Silence a man that comes when he is called upon for help. The calling upon him for help must be done by leaving a letter for him in a mailbox that doesn’t exist in a building in Manhattan, New York. How the mailbox is found is only if someone tells you about it.

The action begins when Odessa shoots her partner to death due to his becoming inexplicably violent and presenting a danger to her. Upon shooting him she sees an emanation leaving his body which is not explainable. Odessa is placed on Desk leave by her department while the shooting is investigated and to keep her busy is given the assignment to clean out a retiring agent’s effects. This brings her to learning about John via information in Agent Solomon’s (the retiree) belongings and eventually sending for him to help her.

We are taken to three different time zones and places by the authors during the course of the story. The first, of course, Newark, New Jersey the scene of the shooting by Odessa, back many years to the southern United States where Earl Solomon as a new FBI agent is investigating the lynching of a white man and also 450 years ago when John Silence, happily married runs into the evil that requires his presence through the centuries while losing his wife to the Hollow people. The Hollow Ones is the title of the book and are entities that are the epitome of evil and best left to the authors to explain during the course of the novel.

The writing stays on the dark side throughout the book and remains an adventure into the occult for the reader. My own feeling is that it strains the patience of the author’s fans and does become more than a little over-intellectualized. Nothing should stop their fans from picking up their next book but this one leaves something to be desired and is, in my opinion, not their normal five-star novel.

8/2020 Paul Lane

THE HOLLOW ONES by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan. Grand Central Publishing (August 4, 2020). ISBN: 978-1538761748. 336 pages




August 5, 2020


From the publisher:

The pharmaceutical giants have a big skeleton in their closet and will fight tooth and nail to keep it there. Author Dan Travis, notorious unsolved mystery specialist, is on another book tour when a cryptic message from a desperate stranger blows his life apart. He is sucked into a silent war which hinges on an incriminating data file. Finding it is Travis’s only hope for surviving a deadly chase across America. But to find its location, Travis must discover the link between the biggest medical cover-up in history and the greatest assassination conspiracy of the twentieth century. The key lies within a secret underground of doctors sworn to an ancient oath. When the solution is the problem, which side will YOU be on? The facts behind the fiction will blow you away.

James Sheridan’s book is a fascinating look at certain scenarios existing in the world at the current time. The dialog he utilizes supports underlying beliefs that (a) the assassination of ex U.S. president John Kennedy involved an international conspiracy, not the approach that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin, and (b) the Pharmaceutical industry is rife with schemes to prevent known cures for diseases like cancer to become accredited. The industry promotes the sale of medicines that might even harm the patient in place of cures solely in the interest of making more money than a cure might bring in.

Dan Travis, an expert on several unsolved mysteries, is on a book promotion tour when a message unexpectedly received moves him into a secret war based upon a data file. He knows the person sending him the message and is also immediately galvanized into action when he is met by a lady purporting to be that man’s sister. She tells him that she is a government agent and will help him get the file and publicize it.

The action immediately accelerates with a man named Mr. Green, an agent of the U.S. government, and backed by many of his own people, begins to chase Dan and the girl now working with him. While moving forward in their search for the data file Dan learns about the reality of both the killing of John F Kennedy and the truth about big Pharma’s conspiracy to crush many cures in order to continue to rake in money. The key to the plot by the Pharmaceutical companies lies with another secret organization this time with doctors sworn to bring out the truth.

Whether Sheridan is exposing extremely high-level conspiracies or not does not detract from the sheer force of the author’s descriptions. The book quickly mesmerizes the reader and does not allow it to be put down until finished. Moreover, readers of the novel will not only be looking for future works by the author but also spending some time on the internet in attempts to ascertain the possibility or not of the conspiracies described being rooted in fact. I did spend some time searching for the possibility or not of the book is correct in its allegations but I leave my findings for readers to investigate on their own.

8/2020 Paul Lane

THE PANDORA PRESCRIPTION by James Sheridan. Sterling & Ross, Cambridge House Press; 1stedition (September 28, 2007). ISBN: 978-0978721350. 432 pages.