PAYBACK by Lorenzo Carcaterra

November 20, 2020

Tank Rizzo, Book 2

From the publisher:

Payback is personal for a former NYPD detective taking on a corrupt cop and a dirty accounting firm in this adrenaline-laced thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Sleepers and Tin Badges.

If there’s one kind of person Tank Rizzo hates most in this world, it’s a dirty cop. Criminals are at least honest about being dishonest; dirty cops are a disgrace to the badge they carry. Detective Eddie Kenwood is one such disgrace. He’s got the highest signed-confession rate in the NYPD and a distinguished career built on putting men behind bars—whether they’re guilty or not doesn’t matter much to him. When Tank’s partner, Pearl, tells him about an old family friend Kenwood put in jail for a murder he didn’t commit, Tank and Pearl vow to take Kenwood down.

Also in need of a takedown: the money-laundering accounting firm where Tank’s brother used to work—before he mysteriously died, leaving Tank the sole guardian of his nephew, Chris. Chris smells a rat, and enlists Tank’s help to bring the men who had his father killed to justice.

Working two big cases means getting out the big guns, and Tank assembles his A-team. With help from a retired mobster, a professional boxer, a Chelsea psychic, a dog named Gus, and the U.S. Attorney—not to mention his and Pearl’s own quick wits and Chris’s burgeoning skills as a computer whiz—Tank gears up to take on his most dangerous and personal cases to date.


Payback is the second novel featuring Tank Rizzo and his friends taking down evildoers in their own inimitable style; not always the absolutely correct way but seeing justice done. Tank was a detective with the New York city police department but was injured in his last take down. His partner at the time, Pearl lost the use of his legs in the same shootout. The two remain good friends and are sometimes involved with a case given to them by their ex chief at the police department. These are situations in which the use of regular department personnel  may not be feasible for one reason or another.     

Tank’s brother and his sister-in-law were killed in an automobile accident.  Their son Chris was taken in by Tank and they are learning to live with each other in spite of his parents and uncle being on the outs for years. The opening of the novel finds that Chris has developed into a very talented computer guru. He has investigated the accounting firm that his father was working for when he died in the accident and found that there were several irregularities that were never thoroughly investigated. He brings his concerns to Tank who decides to investigate the circumstances surrounding his brother’s death. This is a situation that was made more difficult due to the two men not speaking for many years based on an incident in their past.     

Pearl, in the meanwhile, has been approached on behalf of an old family friend jailed unfairly by a crooked New York City detective. The man has spent years imprisoned due to a confession he was forced to make by Eddie Kenwood, the detective in question. Pearl and Tank decide to look into that case as well as going after the accounting firm that Tank’s brother worked for.     

The investigations are aided by various groups not necessarily on the side of the law.  For example, the father of Tank’s girlfriend who just happens to be a mob boss, a crew of knife-wielding thieves, the attorney general (how did they get into that group), a retired boxer, and a cute little dog that Chris has been gifted with.  It has been some time that a hard-boiled detective has appeared in fiction but Tank and his allies make for excellent subjects and create an engrossing novel.  There is no doubt that Lorenzo Carcaterra has started a series that will be continued in the future and enjoyed by his readers.

11/2020 Paul Lane

PAYBACK by Lorenzo Carcaterra. Ballantine Books (August 25, 2020). ISBN: 978-0399177590. 304 pages.

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GOOD & EVIL by Giacometti & Ravenne

November 13, 2020

The war is far from over

From the publisher:

OUT NOW: the second volume in the bestselling, exhilarating WWII treasure-hunt thriller series for fans of Dan Brown

November 1941. Germany is about to win the war. Only one thing still separates the Nazis from a certain victory: they must find the three remaining all-powerful swastikas and reunite them with a fourth that is safely hidden away in Himmler’s mountain stronghold.

Churchill has no choice but to mobilize his best man, double agent Tristan Marcas, and employ the most risky techniques to beat them to it. It all comes to a showdown at a ball in Venice


This is volume 2 of a planned 3 book series dealing with the possibility that Adolf Hitler, along with some of his high echelon officers, were firm believers in certain symbols that had the power to influence major events. They were purported to plan both military and political actions based on what they perceived were the influences of symbols. The novels concern four Swastikas that are sought by both the Nazis and the British with the belief that the balance of the war being fought by them would be affected by the possession of these symbols. The first book ends with each side having one of the Swastikas and both after the other two.

The authors are writing the novels so that they all have to be read in order and it is certainly the case that a fair amount of what is occurring in book two has a grounding in the first book. If the reader has read the first book the events and sequencing will be logical. If not, the story and its treatment by the authors make it very worthwhile to try and do so.

The novel opens in late 1941 with the probability that Germany will win the war. Hitler feels he must find the remaining Swastikas and unite them with the one currently being held in a vault in Himmler’s mountain stronghold. Winston Churchill knows that he must prevent this and mobilizes his best man: Tristan Marcas to organize a counter search keeping the remaining Swastikas out of the hands of the Nazis. The point-counterpoint of both sides is a completely mesmerizing study of constant action with Tristan’s group in constant danger of being caught and executed.

Ian Fleming, later author of the James Bond series of novels, is depicted as taking part in the story as head of the British group seeking contact with and aiding Marcas’ search. A neat touch by the authors is to suggest that Fleming was influenced by this action to create his character as well as coming up with the designation 007 for Bond.

The authors set up a background scenario revolving around Hitler, his boyhood, his service in the trenches of World War One, and methods of seeking and obtaining power over a Germany fed up with being blamed for starting WWI, and in the midst of a crippling depression. Undoubtedly based on solid research, it is an interesting sideline to the book and perhaps to arrive at an understanding of why a minority of Germany’s population were able to take over the country and allow itself to be steered into a world war.

11/2020 Paul Lane

GOOD & EVIL by Giacometti & Ravenne. Hodder (February 23, 2021). ISBN: 978-1529359428. 384 pages.

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THE LAW OF INNOCENCE by Michael Connelly

November 10, 2020

The Lincoln Lawyer is back! No worries, Harry Bosch makes a few appearances as well, but this is Mickey Haller’s story. And it is personal.

Haller is pulled over by a cop for a missing rear license plate. When the cop approaches, he sees what looks like blood dripping from the trunk of the car. He puts Haller in the back of his squad car and opens the trunk to find a dead man dripping blood from gunshot wounds.

Haller is arrested and bail set for $5 million so he remains in prison, separated from the other prisoners. He decides to defend himself and his partner, ex-wives/girlfriend, private investigator Cisco, and Harry Bosch step up to help. His daughter, Maddie, is also around. Now a law student, she takes some time off to learn from her dad, and of course to support him.

Haller knows he’s been framed but the evidence is all pointing his way and he has no idea who would have done it. Luckily, he is shrewd and smart and fighting for his life, with a team equally committed to securing his freedom. He wants the “NG”, not guilty verdict but more than that, he wants to be proved innocent. Interestingly, there is no law of innocence, but Haller knows finding the actual murderer will go a long way towards proving his innocence.

The ins and outs of a murder case are illustrated in the most interesting way as we are invested in Haller’s innocence. He has a formidable opponent in the D.A. but feels a kinship for the judge, a former defense attorney. Lots of legal action here and with the twists and turns of the case, the pages fly by.

This was a one night read for me as I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Connelly keeps getting better, and I didn’t really think that was possible. If you haven’t read him, you can easily start here. Don’t miss it.

NOTE: This is the first book I’ve read that has touched on the pandemic. It is set in the fall of 2019 through the end of February 2020, just as we were starting to understand that the coronavirus was going to be a major problem. I wouldn’t call it a plotline, but rather it lurks insidiously in the background, just as it did while we were living it. I’m mentioning it because I believe it means Connelly went back to his manuscript to update it. Most books are turned in about a year prior to publication, which would put the finished manuscript submitted to the publisher in late 2019. Kudos to Connelly and Little, Brown for being flexible enough to make these changes. I really think it added to the tension, probably more for the reader than the characters. It was incredibly well done.

11/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

From Paul Lane:

This novel featuring “Lincoln Lawyer” Mickey Haller is the prolific Michael Connelly’s 31st published book. Similarly, to his previous works, it incorporates his gifted sense of plot, and his ability to frame events in a manner that keeps his readers glued to the pages unable to put the book down until finished.

Mickey has just successfully concluded a trial and has joined his staff and friends in a celebration of the win at a local club. He pays the tab and leaves by himself to drive home. On the trip home (in one of his three Lincolns of course) he is stopped by a police officer who checks his documents and then gets him to open the trunk of the car. In a totally unexpected occurrence, a body is found in the trunk; a man that has been shot to death. The police begin an investigation and proceed in charging Mickey with murder.

The main part of the novel is devoted to the trial and Mickey’s defense. For a good part of the time, he is incarcerated when he is not in court and has to work with his associates with the disadvantage of not being able to meet during the evening or weekends.

The machinations of the prosecution working to convict Mickey are well documented as are the defense rebuttals and strategy. Connelly brings out the psychology of a trial, the attempts to color any evidence based on who is presenting it, and on the other side who is in opposition to it. Mickey has elected to use his right to demand a speedy trial. He knows that he not only must convince a jury to exonerate him but even more important has to get a clear not-guilty verdict to forever remove any cloud accruing to him and clear his reputation as a defense attorney in order to continue trying cases.

As in any real-life situation, the court action is always accompanied by personal events occurring outside of the trial. In Mickey’s case his daughter, a law student, comes to court to cheer her father on. His partner in his law firm experiences her father passing away and must leave to attend his funeral. One of his two ex-wives arrives to help out in the trial by taking over for his partner and Mickey finds that he still is in love with her.
Engrossing, yes, an all-nighter, of course. The only question is how soon can we have the pleasure of getting Connelly’s next book.

THE LAW OF INNOCENCE by Michael Connelly. Little, Brown and Company (November 10, 2020). ISBN 978-0316485623. 432 pages.

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DOUBLE AGENT by Tom Bradby

November 5, 2020

From the publisher:

Kate Henderson Thrillers, Book 2

Kidnapped in Venice by a Russian defector, Kate knows she’s in trouble. But when he offers her conclusive evidence that the British Prime Minister is a live agent working for Moscow, Kate’s holiday quickly becomes the start of her next mission.

The defector has proof of the PM involved in a sordid scandal―a video supposedly used to blackmail him into Russian service decades prior―and a financial paper trail that undeniably links him to the Russians, but his motives are anything but clear. Riddled with doubt that the evidence she is presented with may not in fact be as bulletproof as it seems, Kate reopens the investigation into the PM. As she works through the case, Kate runs up against key people at the heart of the British Establishment who refuse to acknowledge the reality in front of them. And, more worryingly, clear signs that there’s still a mole in her department.

But Kate had already identified and eradicated the mole, codenamed Viper. Could she have been mistaken? And could this horrifying video be a fake, produced by the Russians to sabotage British democracy?

These questions plague Kate as she tries to keep it together for her children and ailing mother, steadily losing sleep and, she fears, her sanity. This mission will push Kate dangerously close to the edge as she continues her relentless fight for the truth.


The second Kate Henderson novel is a continuation of the exploits of people high up in the organization of MI6 with all the good points of the previous book.  A kidnapping of Kate in Venice leads her into a situation in which the British Prime Minister might be a traitor working for the Russians. She is presented with a teaser indicating his guilt and promised all of the file if the individual presenting it is granted asylum in Great Britain. Her working through the facts of the allegations spreads through the highest echelons of the government as well as bringing her into a secret trip into Russia to interview the individual presenting the file.     

The characters portrayed in Bradby’s book have personal pictures of them showing normal situations and private problems that do sometimes conflict with their work.  In Kate’s place, she has two teenage children with their normal motivations living with her since she is divorced from her husband. Her feelings about the rupture with her husband are shown as complex as those of any individual’s emotions would be in a similar situation. 

Additionally, the normal politicking present in any organization affects the thoughts and actions of the people involved.  For example, one of her fellow executives is going through the personal trauma of his wife dying from inoperable cancer and having to face that while going through the problem of giving asylum or not to the people demanding it in order to release the information of the Prime Minister’s guilt. 

Kate’s group is also obviously caught up in the possibility that the file of the PM’s guilt might not really be anything but a misinformation campaign by Russia.  The novel is an interesting read and while not a red hot all night draw is certainly a book that will cause the reader to seek out future Bradby’s works and enjoy them.

11/2020 Paul Lane

DOUBLE AGENT by Tom Bradby. Atlantic Monthly Press (November 3, 2020). ISBN: 978-0802157645. 368 pages.

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HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT by Jeffrey Archer

November 3, 2020

CLICK TO PURCHASE

From the publisher:

William Warwick Novels, Book 2

Jeffrey Archer’s Hidden in Plain Sight is the second novel featuring Detective William Warwick, by the master storyteller and #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Clifton Chronicles

William Warwick has been promoted to Detective Sergeant, but his promotion means that he, along with the rest of his team, have been reassigned to the Drugs Squad. They are immediately tasked with apprehending Khalil Rashidi, a notorious drug dealer, who operates his extensive network out of South London.

As the investigation progresses, William runs into enemies old and new: Adrian Heath, from his school days, now a street dealer who he convinces to turn informer; and financier Miles Faulkner, who makes a mistake that could finally see him put behind bars. Meanwhile, William and his fiancée Beth enjoy making preparations for their upcoming wedding, though an unpleasant surprise awaits them at the altar.

As William’s team closes the net around a criminal network like none they have ever faced before, he devises a trap they would never expect, one that is hidden in plain sight . . .


This is the author’s second book featuring William Warwick, a man that has chosen a career with Scotland Yard rather than the path his father had been in favor of for him. His father was one of the top attorneys in England and would have gladly taken his son into his practice and helped him rise to the top of that profession. William stuck to his guns and book two finds him earning his first promotion with the police to Detective Sergeant . The new post sees him and his squad reassigned to the Drug division and tasked with the arrest and prosecution of Ahmed Rashidi a top tier drug lord with tentacles throughout south London. In pursuing Rashidi he also becomes involved with Miles Faulkner a very wealthy financier and one also mixed up in the drug world.

While working on police business William is seen moving on with the personal life touched on in book one. Beth, the girl he met while investigating art skullduggery in the first book now becomes his wife. Their honeymoon to Rome is described and much made of Williams leaving his wife behind before the planned trip is complete to return to England to help capture Faulkner. The action provides more insight into Wiliam’s commitment to his chosen work. And, of course Beth’s understanding that her rival for her husband is his profession.

Faulkner is brought before the court to stand trial for his crimes. William’s father is the prosecutor in the case, and is assisted by Wiliam’s sister who is given her first chance to question a defendant on trial; doing a commendable job. Mr. Archer provides the reader with a description of the trial’s events, the thoughts and actions of both the prosecution and the defense and describes the maneuvering that takes place in any trial that seeks to prove guilt or innocence of a defendant.

It is no surprise when the ending of the novel sets up book three of the series with a small prelude of the basis for the impending police action.

11/2020 Paul Lane

HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT by Jeffrey Archer. St. Martin’s Press (November 3, 2020). ISBN: 978-1250200785. 304 pages.

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SNAKE ISLAND by Ben Hobson

October 31, 2020

From the publisher:

For fans of Cormac McCarthy, Phillip Meyer, Fargo, and Justified, a gritty rural noir thriller about family, drugs, and the legacy of violence.

In an isolated town on the coast of southern Australia, Vernon Moore and his wife, Penelope, live in retirement, haunted by an unspeakable act of violence that sent their son, Caleb, to serve time in prison and has driven the couple apart. Ashamed, they refuse to talk about him or visit, but when a close friend warns Vernon that Caleb has been savagely beaten, he has no choice but to act to protect their only child.

The perpetrator of the beating is a local thug from a crime family whose patriarch holds sway over the town, with the police in his pay. Everyone knows they trade in drugs. When Vernon maneuvers to negotiate a deal with the father, he makes a critical error. His mistake unleashes a cycle of violence that escalates to engulf the whole town, taking lives with it, revealing what has been hiding in plain sight in this picturesque rural community and threatening to overtake his son.

Told from shifting perspectives at a sprint, in language that sometimes approaches the simple profundity of parable, this gritty debut was hailed on its Australian publication as “a darkly illuminating thriller that soars across genre constraints . . . [and] engages with pressing contemporary issues while exploring timeless questions. Hobson writes as if his life depends on it” (The Australian).


This is the author’s second announced published book. It is an interesting concept coupled with some good writing. The story is set in Australia on the southwestern coast with the city of Melbourne fairly close to it. Vernon Moore and his wife Penelope are in retirement and living there. Their tranquility is interrupted when their son Caleb is arrested and imprisoned for beating up his wife. The couple have not visited him for two years and talk about how ashamed they are of his conduct.

The story begins when a close friend of Vernon advises him that Caleb has been beaten up by the son of a local crime family who apparently had looked to marry the girl who was beaten. The action against his son moves Vernon to do something about the situation with himself and his wife coming to the realization that the boy is their son and they can’t just desert him.

In a well-done narrative, Ben Hobson brings out the causes and effects that Vernon’s actions bring to his own family and to others in the area. In turn actions by the family of the man that beat up Caleb bring in two men from Melbourne who are suppliers of drugs to them. The act causes an auto crash that causes the drugs being brought in to disappear with the Melbourne gangsters doing what they deem necessary to recoup their goods.

The simple act of trying to help Caleb brings in the local police, with the fact that the Sargent in charge is a customer of the Melbourne group, a clergyman intent on bringing peace to everyone involved, and other members of the small community living there. Deaths occur due to the conflicting actions of those concerned and an interesting tale comes to its conclusion.

10/2020 Paul Lane

SNAKE ISLAND by Ben Hobson. Arcade Crimewise (October 20, 2020). ISBN: 978-1950691715. 304 pages.

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CHER AMI AND MAJOR WHITTLESEY by Kathleen Rooney

October 28, 2020

From the publisher:

A heart-tugging and gorgeously written novel based on the incredible true story of a WWI messenger pigeon and the soldiers whose lives she forever altered, from the author of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk.

From the green countryside of England and the gray canyons of Wall Street come two unlikely heroes: one a pigeon and the other a soldier. Answering the call to serve in the war to end all wars, neither Cher Ami, the messenger bird, nor Charles Whittlesey, the army officer, can anticipate how their lives will briefly intersect in a chaotic battle in the forests of France, where their wills will be tested, their fates will be shaped, and their lives will emerge forever altered.

A saga of hope and duty, love and endurance, as well as the claustrophobia of fame, Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey is a tragic yet life-affirming war story that the world has never heard. Inspired by true events of World War I, Kathleen Rooney resurrects two long-forgotten yet unforgettable figures, recounting their tale in a pair of voices that will change the way readers look at animals, freedom, and even history itself.


With the arrival of the centennial of World War One (1914-1918), a good number of books have been published about aspects of that conflict. These deal with situations that are not necessarily fiction about men in war, but in many cases regarding little known facts previously not brought out but well researched and of interest for readers today.

Kathleen Rooney’s book is about a U.S. battalion that took part in the battle at the Argonne Forest in 1918. The troops were part of an attack organized in conjunction with soldiers from other U.S. troops and also from the French army. The battalion managed to reach the area ordered to by high command but the rest of the force did not: leaving these soldiers isolated and surrounded by German troops.

In the chaos of the situation artillery from the U.S. side was misaimed and landed on the isolated battalion killing many. There was no radio in those days and messengers sent to advise of the mix-up were killed. Another method was via the use of homing pigeons normally carried by soldiers trained in flying these birds.

The plight of the surrounded soldiers became widely known and they were termed “The Lost Battalion” by people far and wide. Cher Ami, a homing pigeon was sent with a message for the artillery to stop their fire. The bird completed its flight wounded by enemy bullets and losing an eye and one leg. Ms. Rooney tells her story using two protagonists; one is Major Charles Whittlesey and the other Cher Ami. It is an interesting combination that does get the author’s story across.

Whittlesey brings out the antiwar direction of the book. He is placed in command of the Battalion and must order men to face death in order to comply with directives from generals that live quite nicely behind the lines and don’t see the real cost in the lives of the decisions they make. His post-war life is described by the author as a major guilt trip. Also, an interesting mention is made concerning Woodrow Wilson, then president of the United States. He campaigned for the presidency in 1916, with the slogan “He kept us out of war” but then just a few months after the election promoted a declaration of war against Germany. His actions caused the deaths of thousands of American soldiers that were not necessary to prevent any actions by Germany against the U.S.

Using a homing pigeon as one of the two narrators of the book does not in any way detract from the story. On the contrary, that factor allows the presentation of further commentary by an entity that sees the foibles of soldiers and war from afar and still completes what is thought of as her duty. An interesting aside is the fact that a silent movie was made in 1919 featuring Whittlesey and other survivors of the “lost battalion” For those interested it is available on YouTube.

10/2020 Paul Lane

CHER AMI AND MAJOR WHITTLESEY by Kathleen Rooney. Penguin Books (August 11, 2020). ISBN: 978-0143135425. 336 pages.

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THE SENTINEL by Lee Child & Andrew Child

October 27, 2020

When it was announced that Lee Child would be retiring and turning over his Jack Reacher series to his brother, Andrew, I had mixed feelings. I’ve read a few of Andrew Grant’s books (the actual family name of the brothers) and he writes a good thriller. I was happy that Lee didn’t kill off Reacher (which he has threatened to do in past interviews!) and that the series would continue. But just because brothers both write thrillers, doesn’t mean they write the same way. Grant has never had the success of his uber-successful brother, but frankly not many writers do. So here we are. The first Andrew Child (nee Grant) book, written with Lee Child, in theory. I am happy to say the Jack Reacher appears to be in good hands.

That said, I didn’t love this book. It is probably all in my head but it felt like someone was trying to copy Child’s distinctive writing style but maybe overdid it? The short, choppy sentences. The brawls. The clock in Reacher’s head. The hitchhiking. All were there, yet it didn’t quite meld together for me. The story was interesting, although a piece of it felt like it was thrown in at the last minute because of the publication timeline and current events.

I read it, although it took me a few days because I kept putting it down, and I don’t recall ever doing that with a Jack Reacher book. But I definitely can see the potential, and I think the books will get better as the new Child finds his own Reacher voice, as it were. If you are a fan of the series, you won’t be disappointed. If you are new to the series, try a few of the older books first.

10/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE SENTINEL by Lee Child & Andrew Child. Delacorte Press (October 27, 2020). ISBN 978-1984818461. 368p.

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THE HAUNTING OF H. G. WELLS by Robert Masello

October 25, 2020

From the publisher:

A plot against England that even the genius of H. G. Wells could not have imagined.

It’s 1914. The Great War grips the world—and from the Western Front a strange story emerges…a story of St. George and a brigade of angels descending from heaven to fight beside the beleaguered British troops. But can there be any truth to it?

H. G. Wells, the most celebrated writer of his day—author of The Time MachineThe War of the WorldsThe Invisible Man—is dispatched to find out. There, he finds an eerie wasteland inhabited by the living, the dead, and those forever stranded somewhere in between…a no-man’s-land whose unhappy souls trail him home to London, where a deadly plot, one that could turn the tide of war, is rapidly unfolding.

In league with his young love, the reporter and suffragette Rebecca West, Wells must do battle with diabolical forces—secret agents and depraved occultists—to save his sanity, his country, and ultimately the world.


Robert Masello is an author who has published historical novels with a decidedly surreal twist involved in them. This current novel is written around H.G. Wells, an author who wrote many books involving a vision of the future that projected what later became real-life happenings. These included “War of the Worlds”, “Things to come” “The Invisible Man” and the “Time Machine.” Wells must be considered as one of the first authors writing what then became Science Fiction, and a man that knew fame in his own lifetime.

The novel begins in England during the first few months of World War I. A legend arose that ghosts of English bowmen and archers appeared magically at the western front and fought on the British side. This was conceived that the Gods were on the side of the English and used to buoy up the country in the face of war.

H.G. Wells, at the peak of his fame, is called into the war office and Winston Churchill the man in charge asks him to travel to the western front in Belgium in order to investigate the truth of the advent of the archers. Wells acquiesces and does so in the care of an experienced soldier.

Masello’s descriptions of conditions at the western front are very vivid and well done. He describes a group of men called ghouls that have deserted their armies and live underground at the front stealing food from the dead in order to survive.

In an attack by the English against soldiers of the German army Wells is propelled into an underground nest of the so-called ghouls who save his life. In later dispatches written by him when he returns to England Wells writes what he is told to by the war office.

In further adventures of the famed author, Wells meets a young lady, Rebecca West who becomes his lifelong mistress. Masello indicates that Jane, H.G. Wells wife knew of his philandering and allowed it to happen, understanding her husband’s needs to do so.

The last half of the novel becomes involved with two events that the author makes up. The first is the survival of a wounded crew member of a downed German airship that had attacked London, and Mrs. Wells caring for him against all regulations. The second is the description of a planned chemical attack by a German agent living in England and action against him by Wells with the aid of Ms. West.

It goes without saying that literary license is used by Masello, as it has been in previous successful novels aiding in providing a very readable novel and one that further enhances his reputation and piquing the interest of his readers who await his next work.

10/2020 Paul Lane

THE HAUNTING OF H. G. WELLS by Robert Masello. 47North (October 1, 2020). ISBN: 978-1542093781. 397 pages.

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THE LAST SECRET OF THE ARK by James Becker

October 23, 2020

From the publisher:

The world’s most sacred and mysterious object and a race for survival… The brilliant new thriller from global bestseller James Becker
In Ethiopia, Charles Bronson and Angela Lewis are on the hunt for the Ark of the Covenant. But it looks like their luck is running out. Until, that is, a new avenue springs open in Southern France.

Meanwhile the Vatican is getting worried. Their best people are tracking the Ark, but so are a mysterious group operating from Jerusalem. Both are prepared to use deadly force.

As the net closes in around the most powerful artefact in history and the greatest mystery, it’s also tightening around Bronson and Lewis. They’ll need all their smarts to escape this time…

A deadly cat and mouse game through a world of history and myth, perfect for fans of Dan Brown, Chris Kuzneski and Scott Mariani.


Charles Bronson and his ex-wife Angela Lewis are traveling and working together on a quest sanctioned by Angela’s employer to find the Holy Grail. The Holy Grail is thought to be the cup that Jesus drank from at the last supper and was then used to collect his blood after the crucifixion. The pair begin their search in Ethiopia but through clues and judicious thought travel through Europe and North America.

Also, after the Grail and consequently enemies of the pair, are a group from the Vatican and another from Jerusalem. Now why did all these people suddenly begin a search together that has a history grounded in centuries of investigation? This question is not addressed in this novel, hmmm.

A favorite topic of the author, the Knights Templars, a group dissolved by the Church hundreds of years ago also figures in this novel. The plot is one that would take its place with books such as Raiders of the Lost Ark. The reason that I believe it does not is the depiction of how the search evolves with the couple. When faced with the need for a continuance of the search by facing a dead-end, either Angela or Charles comes up with a Latin discussion of the original hiding of the Chalice.

After centuries have passed the couple somehow finds the correct meaning and continues forward to the next step. They are of course followed by both sets of bad guys and need to thwart their evil intents.

The novel is filled with incredible solutions one after the other. It is also replete with the attempts by the villains to allow Charles and Angela to find the grail for them and then kill the couple and run off with the treasure. A good plot is spoiled with an overabundance of conversations and miraculous analysis plus the rather silly actions of two sets of bad guys.

Becker has an afterward of the book in which he outlines the finding of pertinent facts by searches done in the past. This does make the novel somewhat of a history book. The use of countless “eureka” moments in the novel, however, does mitigate the validity of what is found, makes for a boring experience, and ending in no real interest in getting future books by the author.

10/2020 Paul Lane

THE LAST SECRET OF THE ARK by James Becker. Canelo Action (September 17, 2020). ISBN: 978-1800320277. 306 pages.

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