FROM THE GRAVE by Jay Brandon

January 15, 2020

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Edward Hall Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

Disbarred defence attorney Edward Hall discovers that in order to win his case he has to lose in this tense and twisting legal thriller.

“You want me to represent the most hated man in Houston?”

Disbarred Texas lawyer Edward Hall returns to the courtroom after accepting an offer from the District Attorney to represent the most obviously guilty defendant in town. It’s a poisoned chalice. Not only is his client charged with kidnapping the DA’s sister, he is already well-known for the previous kidnapping of a celebrity’s son.

But if Edward handles this well, he has a chance to regain his law licence. And Edward understand that by ‘handling the case well’, the DA means he needs to lose. Labouring under this impossible conflict of interest, Edward prepares for the trial with the help of his resourceful girlfriend Linda. But as the trial approaches, Edward finds himself having to solve and prove a completely different case: one of cold-blooded murder.


Edward (not Ed) Hall is a disbarred attorney due to having spent time in jail and becoming a convicted felon has gone back to his home town of Houston, Texas where he works at any job he can get. He has also been successful in moving in with Linda, a girl he has fallen in love with. His world looks brighter but he certainly misses practicing law.

Out of the blue, an opportunity presents itself to him in the form of an offer from the District Attorney. A man that was in jail at the same time as Edward stands accused of kidnapping a lady and extorting a ransom from her husband. The D.A. tells him that if he takes the case and goes to court with it his legal license will be returned. It is insinuated that he must handle the case the “right” way – losing and allowing the defendant to be put back in jail.

Edward takes the case and realizes that the lady kidnapped is the District Attorney’s sister and the man he is representing had helped him out several times while they were both incarcerated. He gets help from Linda who proves herself very resourceful. The trial, the preparations of both parties: the D.A. and Edward as the defense attorney is told very well with all the bumps and maneuvers that probably would occur in any real trial.

The story lays the groundwork for continuing Edward and Linda’s appearances in court, and it doesn’t hurt the storyline that Linda receives her court reporter’s license as the events proceed. Brandon has written previous books featuring Edward Hall and the present novel probably represents a new beginning for him with the added help his girlfriend.

1/2020 Paul Lane

FROM THE GRAVE by Jay Brandon. Severn House Publishers; Main edition (January 7, 2020). ISBN 978-0727889003. 240p.

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A SMALL TOWN by Thomas Perry

January 11, 2020

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From the New York Times bestselling author Thomas Perry, “who can be depended upon to deliver high-voltage shocks” (Stephen King), comes a new thriller about an ingenuous jailbreak and the manhunt it unleashes.

In A Small Town, twelve conspirators meticulously plan to throw open all the gates to the prison that contains them, so that more than a thousand convicts may escape and pour into the nearby small town. The newly freed prisoners rape, murder, and destroy the town―burning down homes and businesses. An immense search ensues, but the twelve who plotted it all get away.

After two years, all efforts by the local and federal police agencies have been in vain. The mayor and city attorney meet, and Leah Hawkins, a six-foot, two-inch former star basketball player and resident good cop, is placed on sabbatical so that she can tour the country learning advanced police procedures. The sabbatical is merely a ruse, however, as her real job is to track the infamous twelve. And kill them.

Leah’s mission takes her across the country, from Florida to New York, from California to an anti-government settlement deep in the Ozarks. Soon, the surviving fugitives realize what she is up to, and a race to kill or be killed ensues. Full of exhilarating twists and surprisingly resonant, A Small Town will sweep readers along on Leah’s quest for vengeance.


This is a well-done novel about good and evil with a feel-good plot to capture the reader’s interest. The town of Weldenville had voted some years prior to the beginning of the story to allow a minimum-security prison to be built in their area. They had done this in the interest of creating jobs and demand for goods and services in their town which was going through an economically down period. Much to their chagrin, the Federal Government caused the prison to evolve into an institution that housed the most dangerous of felons. The danger to the town bears bitter fruit when 12 of the worse criminals plan a breakout which will involve the entire prison population. The plot succeeds and causes a number of murders, rapes and beatings by the criminals escaping. Many were caught and returned to their cells, but the 12 masterminds got away and concealed their whereabouts for two years. The FBI and local police all over the country looked for them until about 2 years after the escape the searches receded into the background and was essentially dead.

Leah Hawkins is a Lieutenant on the Weldenville police force and at the two year anniversary of the prison breakout requests a leave of absence in order to travel to other police jurisdictions in order to study new methods being brought in to fight crime. She was given a travel allowance and a budget to purchase any material she thought would be useful. Beth was a tall 6’2″ lady that had been a star athlete while in school and managed to keep herself in excellent condition. With the permission and blessing of the town council, she sets out on her trip. The trip, of course, was not to look at new equipment and technology but to hunt down the 12 masterminds of the prison break and kill them. The real object of her trip was known only to her and two members of the town council.

How she made out and what the results were of the revenge trip do enter the realm of stretching the imagination but do enhance a very well done story. The result of her trip does leave a feeling of good ultimately triumphing over evil and the novel enhances a definite interest in picking up future novels by Thomas Perry.

1/2020 Paul Lane

A SMALL TOWN by Thomas Perry. Mysterious Press (December 17, 2019). ISBN 978-0802148063. 320p.

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TOO CLOSE TO HOME by Andrew Grant

January 9, 2020

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Paul McGrath Series, Book 2

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His cover: courthouse janitor. His cause: justice. But when Paul McGrath uncovers a shocking connection to a file of missing evidence, he finds the truth sometimes hits a little too close to home.

An intelligence agent-turned-courthouse janitor, Paul McGrath notices everything and everyone—but no one notices him. It’s the perfect cover for the justice he seeks for both his father and the people who’ve been wronged by a corrupt system. Now he’s discovered a missing file on Alex Pardew—the man who defrauded and likely murdered McGrath’s father but avoided conviction, thanks in large part to the loss of this very file. And what lies behind its disappearance is even worse than McGrath had feared.

Meanwhile, at the courthouse, he stumbles on the case of Len Hendrie, a small businessman who’s been accused of torching a venture capitalist’s mansion. Though Hendrie admits starting the fire, McGrath learns how the VC has preyed on average Joes to benefit himself—and his extensive wine collection. McGrath can’t resist looking deeper into this financial predator and soon finds himself in a gray area between his avenging moral compass and the limits of the law.

Then, just as the Hendrie case is heating up, McGrath receives word of the death of his father’s former housekeeper, sending him back to his family home to confront unfinished business from his past. And he’s about to find some unwelcome truths about the mother he lost as a child—and the father who hid even more secrets than he realized.


Paul McGrath was an Intelligence agent for the U.S. Army when he received word that his father had been murdered. Hurrying home, he is in time to witness the trial of the suspected murderer and to see him go free when a file detailing the alleged crime goes missing. Paul then takes a job as a janitor in the courthouse in which the trial took place in order to look for the file and what happened to it. This action takes place in the first book detailing McGrath’s taking the job. The current novel is the second book and takes up Paul McGrath’s continuing search.

A second situation comes up in which a man is going to trial for setting fire to another’s house. He tells McGrath that he did it because the man that owned the house preys upon the people that he handles investments for in order to defraud them of some of the funds. The situation runs concurrently with the search for the missing file. Should be interesting with the disguise as janitor quite a novel idea. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of action with a lot of conversation making up most of the story. That factor does detract from events depicted. There is a section of the book dedicated to the events bringing the characters to the present day and is interesting taken on its own. But if Grant intends to continue with the character it might be more advantageous returning him to his job as an intelligence officer rather than keeping him confined to cleaning floors in the courthouse.

1/2020 Paul Lane

TOO CLOSE TO HOME by Andrew Grant. Ballantine Books (January 7, 2020). ISBN 978-0525619628. 336p.

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HUNTER KILLER by Brad Taylor

January 7, 2020

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From the publisher:

Pike Logan tracks highly-trained Russian assassins to Brazil in this blistering, action-packed thriller from New York Times bestselling author and former Special Forces Officer Brad Taylor.

Pike Logan and the Taskforce were once the apex predators, an unrivaled hunting machine that decimated those out to harm the United States, but they may have met their match. While Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill prepare to join their team on a counter-terrorist mission in the triple frontier—the lawless tri-border region where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet—they are targeted in Charleston, South Carolina. A vicious explosion kills a friend, and the perpetrators have set it up to look like an accident. While the authorities believe this was not foul play, Pike knows the attack was meant for him.

When he loses contact with the team in South America, Pike is convinced he and the Taskforce are under assault. His men are the closest thing to family that Pike has, which means he will do anything, even ignore direct orders to stand down, to find them. Pike and Jennifer head to Brazil to investigate their disappearance and run headlong into a crew of Russian assassins. Within days they are entangled in a byzantine scheme involving Brazilian politics and a cut-throat battle for control of offshore oil fields.

Forged in combat, the Russians are the equal of anything the Taskforce has encountered before, but they make a mistake in attacking Pike’s team, because Pike has a couple of elite Israeli assassins of his own. And Pike will stop at nothing to protect his family.


Those who already addicted to ex-army Delta Force operative Brad Taylor’s novels involving Pike Logan and his Task Force team will find that the newest book in the series follows suit. The Task Force is a group of military operatives that was set up by the United States president to hunt down and neutralize enemies of the country in any way they see fit. Pike Logan is a leader of one of the teams and has spearheaded many successful ventures with them. And they report directly to the president with no affiliation to other clandestine organizations.

The novel opens as two of Pike’s men are in Brazil on assignment acting as the lead in a planned counter-terrorism operation when the Task Force is suddenly ordered to stand down from all activity pending investigation of whether or not they are acting legally. Pike’s immediate supervisor brings him the news directly but in an accident obviously aimed at killing Pike is murdered in Pike’s car when it blows up when the motor is turned on. Findings seem to indicate that it was a freak accident but Pike is of the opinion that it was a planned hit against him.

At the same time, word is received that the Task Force men in Brazil are aboard a ferry stopped by terrorists that then wired it with explosives. With no direct contact with the men in Brazil, Pike makes the logical assumption that he and his squad are under attack. Against orders he and his girlfriend and fellow Task Force member Jennifer Cahill along with several other men anxious to help those in Brazil fly down to South America. The area is actually the triple frontier between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay and is basically a lawless zone.

Once arrived the group finds that they are right in the middle of the activities of a team of highly skilled Russian agents whose goal is to gain control of a lucrative Brazilian offshore oil field. Without backing and against orders Pike and his team begin the action they deem suitable to save their men on the Ferry and rectify the entire situation. The action is constant, the planning and execution of their plans well done and we have another mesmerizing novel by Brad Taylor to keep us awake until finished.

1/2020 Paul Lane

HUNTER KILLER by Brad Taylor. William Morrow (January 7, 2020). ISBN 978-0062886026. 432p.

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THE GERMAN HOUSE by Annette Hess

December 12, 2019

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Announced as her first published book, aside from many screenplays, Annette Hess gives us a memorable, riveting emotional roller coaster of a read. Pick this up and become mesmerized from page one and when finished it will be evident that a major literary force has entered the field with a decided bang.

The action is centered around the 1963 trials in Frankfurt, Germany of war criminals that ran the Auschwitz death camp during WWII. Eva Bruhns is a young woman with only faint memories of the war now two generations behind the world. She is working for a temporary employment agency as a translator when asked if she will fill in for a professional translator that cannot get a German visa in time for the trial’s opening. The trials are scheduled to start shortly and cannot be delayed awaiting the regular translator. Eva takes the job and becomes immersed in a life-changing position lasting several months. The main thrust of the action is her literally coming-of-age due to her work and thoughts as the court action goes on.

On the personal side, Eva is awaiting and expecting her suitor Jurgen Schoormann to ask her father for permission to marry her. Jurgen is the son and heir of a wealthy family who works in the family business and has ideas that a wife should be subservient to her husband. Doubts about the wisdom of marrying Jurgen enter her mind. In addition, due to facts coming out at the trial, Eva begins to question her mother’s and father’s silence about what they did during the war. Where were they and what did they do? And why is it never discussed?

Hess does not excuse the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis but does bring up via her characterizations the possibility that orders were followed since death or imprisonment could be the price of disobeying commands. The complexity of the mental anguish involved is not possible to understand without the experiences of people caught in an insurmountable conundrum with no way out of the situation without suffering something horrible. Does she make her case? Read the book and decide. If nothing else take part in a superb literary experience.

12/19 Paul Lane

THE GERMAN HOUSE by Annette Hess. HarperVia (December 12, 2019). ISBN 978-0008359867. 336p.

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THE ALMANACK by Martine Bailey

December 11, 2019

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Bailey has given her readers a veritable cornucopia of ideas and well-researched facts set in the England of the mid 1750s. The author has painted a picture of another era with all the problems, ideas, dirt and filth present in that day and age.

Tabitha Hart has left her home in the town of Netherlea to seek her fortune in London. There she made a passable living as a lady of the street until her mother sends her a message to return home because she is dying. When Tabitha reaches her mother’s house she finds that the lady has already passed away and under mysterious circumstances. She finds and opens her mother’s almanack, which at that point in time is a book that many people rich and poor buy each year to help them with their year-round planning.

As an aid to finding out what happened, the author has prefaced every chapter with a riddle taken from almanacks of the time as well as a daily message advising what is expected to happen each of the days. This practice opens up additional customs of the era under discussion as well as providing an idea of how people thought and behaved.

The novel is indeed a vibrant picture of another time and makes it possible for today’s readers to allow themselves to slip into that era and enjoy an interesting read.

12/19 Paul Lane

THE ALMANACK by Martine Bailey. Severn House Publishers; First World Publication edition (May 1, 2019). ISBN 978-0727888631. 304p.

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THE BELLS OF HELL by Michael Kurland

December 9, 2019

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A Welker & Saboy Thriller, Book 1

“The Bells of Hell” is a novel set in New York City in 1938. It loosely is a story involving the IOS, which is a probable precursor of the OSS, in its own right the organization that became the CIA. War clouds were appearing all over Europe with Hitler turning Germany into a militarized police state. The emphasis by the fuhrer was to set up many groups – Jews, Gypsies, Catholics, Negros and others deemed non-Aryan as scapegoats to be ostracized by Germany as unworthy to be members of that society. In addition, Germany arranged a plebiscite in Austria to determine if that country would be willing to join in whatever aggressive activities were dictated to them by Hitler.

The situation in New York was that Nazi groups were openly working to push the United States into joining Germany in the war against their perceived enemies. They were also working to cast dispersions on any prominent members of the Jewish faith. Kurland is quite vocal in his writing critiquing J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for his stance at the time of the novel on seeing only communists as enemies of the U.S. German bund activities were not important to him.

As the story opens, Otto Lehman is arriving by ship from Germany and is kidnapped as he debarks and is killed. Andrew Blake, a homeless man, sees the murder and in being questioned indicates that the killers were speaking German. Consequently, Jacob Welker who was then president Franklin Roosevelt’s own counter-intelligence agent is brought to New York to question Blake. As a result of the talks, Welker recruits Andrew Blake as well as Lord Geoffrey Saboy, who is the cultural attache for Great Britain and his wife, Lady Patricia, to help him with investigating whatever the Nazis are planning, beginning with the murder of Otto Lehman.

The author’s style is light, a bit tongue-in-cheek, making the novel an interesting read. It is written well enough to recommend it’s reading although not nearly an all night draw. The characters drawn up with the beginnings of an organization such as the CIA in the background are interesting enough to certainly warrant looking for future novels by Michael Kurland.

12/19 Paul Lane

THE BELLS OF HELL by Michael Kurland. Severn House Publishers; First World Publication edition (December 3, 2019). ISBN 978-0727889690. 256p.

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DARK HOLLOWS by Steve Frech

December 7, 2019

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“Dark Hollows” is Steve Frech’s first published book. If this is the first book published I’m positive that his readers are in for long periods without a good night’s sleep as they enjoy his future novels and his skill in writing them. The book is a ghost story – but is it? Whatever it is it brings the reader to a truly surprise ending after going through many changes of opinion.

Jacob Reese is the owner of a successful coffee shop as well as a cottage in a small town in Vermont called The Hollows. He came there after experiencing the traumatic pain of watching his girlfriend die violently and wanting to change his life.

At the same time that his girlfriend dies, he lost both his parents, although the only good part of that was that they left him everything they had. This gave him the wherewithal to afford the move and set up his coffee shop and buy the cottage.

The cottage is in an excellent location with adjacent attractions and is easy to rent. Jacob can pick and choose the people he rents to and normally has the cottage occupied. Most people looking to rent supply references that can be checked out until one day he gets a call from a woman that wants to rent the cottage but doesn’t supply the normal information. Jacob makes the decision that he will rent to her and the lady indicates the day and time she wants to come. When she arrives Jacob sees her and gasping, is sure that the woman is Laura, his dead ex-girlfriend.

Suddenly Laura, if that who she is, is everywhere he goes even after she leaves the cottage. She has a scar on her face that Laura had, the same color hair and looks like her with the appearance of a girl that is a bit older than Laura looked at her death. Who or what is she, and what does she want at this period long after her death? The answers are found after a mesmerizing read and a good deal of coffee. A very well done novel be it the first published or the following books and the work of a gifted author.

12/19 Paul Lane

DARK HOLLOWS by Steve Frech. HQ Digital (December 6, 2019). ASIN: B07SC6GJQP. 384p.

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LOST TOMORROWS by Matt Coyle

December 5, 2019

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 The Rick Cahill Series, Book 6

Rick Cahill, who is Matt Coyle’s answer to Sam Spade and his brethren, as a hard-boiled, take no prisoners detective makes his sixth appearance in this novel.

Rick started out life as a member of the Santa Barbara, California police department and married Colleen, the woman he was in love with. Tragedy struck when Colleen was murdered and her body thrown on a beach with all marks burnt off her body. Rick was accused of being the killer, but released by the police when an alibi cleared him.

In the years since the murder, Colleen’s killer was never caught and unfortunately, popular opinion thought of Rick as the guilty party. He lost his job with the police and over time became a private detective during the years after the murder.

In this book, Rick has mentally sunk down far enough to just look for easy work as a process server. At a point where he has reached his lowest point, he receives a phone call from Leah Landingham who the sister of Krista who was Rick’s first partner when he joined the Santa Barbara police department. Leah gives him the bad news that Krista has been killed by a hit and run driver in the middle of the night at a location she should not have been in. Reluctantly, Rick goes to Krista’s funeral where Leah gets him to investigate her sister’s death since it did not look like any accident.

Rick accepts the assignment and falls into not only Krista’s death, but also the possibility that Colleen’s death is somewhat connected. The investigation brings to bear all of Matt Coyle’s ability to tell a fascinating story that just grabs the reader and forces him or her to continue reading until done. Each of the Rick Cahill books does stand on its own with only a few sentence recapitulation of the past events. This one is the same; mesmerizing and very well done.

12/19 Paul Lane

LOST TOMORROWS by Matt Coyle. Oceanview Publishing; None edition (December 3, 2019). ISBN 978-1608092451. 368p.

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JUST WATCH ME by Jeff Lindsay

December 4, 2019

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This author made his literary reputation with the creation of Dexter, a picaresque rogue who was also a serial killer. His mitigating feature was that he only killed other serial killers. Can Lindsay top that? Looks like he is giving it a good try with the first book of a new series.

This new novel features as the reverse hero, Riley Wolfe, who is a thief. Not an ordinary one, mind you, but a master thief that looks at very large possibilities not only to get the proceeds but for the adrenaline rush he gets from doing the seemingly impossible.

The novel picks up Riley coming off another successful theft and beginning to look for his next venture. After looking around at many possibilities he comes up with the idea of stealing a diamond held by the Iranian government. Of course not an ordinary run of the mill gem but one of a kind that is so well cut and so large that its value could approximate more than one billion dollars.

Riley realizes that the theft could not take place in Iran but by chance, the gem is part of a group of Iranian state jewels. These are being lent to a prestigious private museum in New York City for a temporary exhibit there. It will be guarded by a new state of the art alarm system plus a contingent of ex-special forces troops, augmented by a squad of Iranian Republican guards. The security will be around the clock as long as the jewels are being exhibited. This is the challenge that Riley decides to accept and moves ahead with plans in spite of the possibility that the jewels cannot be stolen.

Riley is aided by a lady named Monique, who in her own right is a master forger of paintings with her own reputation as the best in her field. In the probable planning of a series, it would appear quite likely that Monique will have her own niche. She is an object of Riley’s attention and will certainly figure as both an aid in the schemes as well his female interest. To round out the action a veteran FBI agent has made himself a master of obtaining the background and interests of Riley Wolfe and has made it his full-time job to chase him in order to put him in prison.

12/19 Paul Lane

JUST WATCH ME by Jeff Lindsay. Dutton (December 3, 2019). ISBN 978-1524743949. 368p.

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