I’LL BE WATCHING YOU by Courtney Evan Tate

March 27, 2019

Click to purchase

The author presents us with an interesting study in several areas. One is the relationship of a mother and her teen aged daughter, the second a portrait of a young girl struggling to find herself in the changing world of adolescence, and the final a study in the hold a pedophile could engender with their prey.

Emmy Fisher is a woman that is managing a bed and breakfast that has come down to her from family. The hotel is located in the beautiful sun drenched section of Florida known as the “Keys” She is divorced from her husband but retains a friendly relationship with him as both parents keep an eye on their daughter Leah. Leah has been raised living on the keys, and we enter her life during the summer between her high school sophomore year and her Junior year. Skye is her best friend,her own age and they have been attached almost since birth.

Tragedy occurs one evening when Leah decides to go for a swim after dark and drowns. Devastated, Emmy cannot cope with the loss, and looks in every nook and corner for memorabilia of her daughter. She does not expect to find evidence that Leah had been having an affair, and apparently with someone much older than her. When she does it devastates her as she tries to find out who it was that her daughter had been having the illicit affair it looks like she has taken part in.

Her ex-husband arrives from the area of the country he has been living in, and Skye begins her own effort to encounter her best friend’s secret lover. The novel is well written and leaves the reader with the very agreeable feeling of reading a good book, and certainly awaiting Tate’s next one. Certainly an excellent read.

3/19 Paul Lane

I’LL BE WATCHING YOU by Courtney Evan Tate. MIRA; Original edition (March 26, 2019). ISBN 978-0778351290. 336p.

Kindle

Audible


MY LOVELY WIFE by Samantha Downing

March 26, 2019

Click to purchase

From the publisher:

Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith in this wildly compulsive debut thriller about a couple whose fifteen-year marriage has finally gotten too interesting…

Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.

We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have our secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

“The thriller we’re most excited to stay up with all night.”—Entertainment Weekly

“[A] dark, disturbing exploration of family, marriage and murderous compulsions”The Washington Post

“You might want to read this one during the daytime.”Woman’s Day

“A knockout…an effortless page turner.”—Publishers Weekly


This was a dark but super fun read. The comparison to Dexter (by Jeff Lindsay) is because Dexter is a serial killer that we can’t help but root for as he only kills other serial killers, people who need killing. The couple in this book are also serial killers, yes a married couple, but they are not killing people who need killing, they are killing for the fun of it. Super creepy. That is a hard thing to get around yet somehow Downing convinces us to root for them. It’s like magic. Or talent. Or both.

There are some excellent twists in the story for sure, and the ending was a real surprise for me. It was truly unputdownable, and sure to make my best books of the year list. I loved it! Oh, and librarians across the country loved it as well, it is the number one pick for the March Library Reads list.

3/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MY LOVELY WIFE by Samantha Downing. Berkley (March 26, 2019).  ISBN 978-0451491725.  384p.

Kindle

Audible


THE PERSIAN GAMBLE by Joel C. Rosenberg

March 24, 2019

Click to purchase

Joel C. Rosenberg has published many fictional novels involved with international spy craft. In a great many of these books it would appear that the author has sources that seem to be providing him with information about what is really going on behind the scenes in countries that are enemies of the United States. His latest novel turns on actions involving three countries that would like to see the U.S. destroyed while they take center stage in the world. These are Russia, North Korea and Iran. Marcus Ryker a protagonist utilized prior to this book by Mr. Rosenberg and a former member of the Secret Service is utilized to tell the story.

Setting the stage for the events described in the book Iran approaches North Korea to sell them high power nuclear bombs which can be used attached to missiles made by the Persians to attack both the U.S. and their ally Israel. Both countries, controlled by Russia,get permission from them to consummate the sale.
Marcus has been persuaded to supervise a visit to Russia on another matter does so also taking the opportunity to visit with Oleg Kraskin a double agent he runs. Kraskin convinces Marcus to bring him into the U.S. with the caveat that he is bringing a great deal of confidential information obtained from the Russian president who is Kraskin’s father in law. Before traveling with Ryker to safe haven Kraskin finds that he must foil a plot by the Russian president to hit the U.S. by bombing them in a preemptive strike. Kraskin shoots and kills his father in law, and also his assistant and convinces Marcus to smuggle him out of Russia. The Moscow Chief of Station, Jenny Morris, helps the two by piloting a plane with them as passengers.

The plot takes shape when the plane is shot down by Russians over Russian territory. Events unfolding make the novel another good read by Rosenberg. There is the hiding from and eluding the Russian military, overcoming the negative attitude of the U.S. that feels Marcus has aided and abetted the murders without notifying and receiving permission from his own government. To also complicate this very complex matter Jenny Morris is wounded when the plane is attacked.
The interactions between Russia, Iran and North Korea could very well be a real scenario between nations whose goals include destruction of their perceived enemies: the U.S. and Israel. An excellent book by Joel C. Rosenberg and one that will definitely entice the reader into an all night read plus keeping eyes out for the author’s next novel.

3/19 Paul Lane

THE PERSIAN GAMBLE by Joel C. Rosenberg. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (March 12, 2019). ISBN 978-1496406187. 448p.

Kindle

Audible


HOUSE ON FIRE by Bonnie Kistler

March 22, 2019

Click to purchase

Divorce lawyer Leigh Huyett and Pete Conley are in every sense a very happy married couple. Both have been married previously and divorced. Like many marriages that break up they have come to a settlement as to which of their children will live with them, and which will reside with the other couples formed by unions formed by their prior spouses. Leigh’s experiences handling divorces and witnessing remarriages has led her to the conclusion that a majority of these pairings also end in divorce. But somehow she and Pete are happy together.

Tragedy strikes without warning while Leigh and Pete are away on vacation. An auto accident occurs when Kip, left in charge, and who is Pete’s son and Chrissy, Leigh’s daughter were driving together to a party in celebration of Kip’s acceptance to Duke University. Their car runs off the road when swerving to avoid a collision. Kip escapes with minor injuries but Chrissy dies, due to a physical problem that is exacerbated by her hitting her head on the roof of the car due to the impact. Kip was driving, and accepts fault for the accident with everyone concerned being of the opinion that it was just that an accident.

The emotions experienced by Leigh and Pete are handled magnificently by Kistler. Both children are technically in the same family, but Chrissy was Leigh’s daughter with Kip Pete’s son. The anguish experienced by all is naturally more so towards their natural children. Suddenly a complication occurs when the state decides to bring Kip to justice trying him in court on a second degree manslaughter charge. The circumstances include Kip just turning 18; an adult in the eyes of the law which allows him to to be prosecuted in adult court. If found guilty he could be faced with up to 10 years of imprisonment in an adult prison.

The interplay of the extended family’s emotions becomes the driving force behind the action taking place. To indicate that it becomes impossible to put the book down does not do justice to the force of the writing. A very well done novel describing a terribly wrenching experience and obviously one that causes rifts and breakups between the characters does cause the reader to await Kistler’s next novel with a great deal of expectation.

3/19 Paul Lane

HOUSE ON FIRE by Bonnie Kistler. Atria Books (March 12, 2019). ISBN 978-1501198687. 416p.

Kindle

Audible


FINDING KATARINA M. by Elisabeth Elo

March 21, 2019

Click to purchase

Elo has written a riveting and complex novel about a young doctor living and working in Washington D.C. traveling to Russia and encountering the very worse of conditions that country throws at it’s citizens.

Natalie March is a successful surgeon practicing in the United States. She enjoys the benefits of her work including a better than average life style. the reputation that her skill brings and a social life that is good, although can be better. Natalie is the daughter of Vera March, a woman that has emigrated from Russia but leaving with the guilt that she left her family on the way to the Gulag for crimes unmentioned.

Vera is in the throes of illness that Natalie cannot cure and she would do anything to help her mother survive her sickness. Natalie is suddenly visited by a young dancer working with a Russian Ballet company and performing in New York. The girl provides Natalie with details of the family still in Russia that only someone knowing them would be aware of. This includes Vera’s mother and her sister still living in a section of Siberia. The girl’s motives for visiting Natalie soon become clear. The family need help in defecting from Russia since they are in grave danger from the Putin regime. Natalie speaks to her mother and agrees to travel to New York where Saldana, who is the girl that is her cousin is performing.

Going to New York Natalie finds that Saldana has been murdered in what looks like a bad breaking and entering crime. Galvanized into action Natalie decides to travel to Russia and break the news to her family. Her findings and the events surrounding the meetings form a major part of the novel. Elo doing a major job of researching and investigating, paints a picture of a vast land, basically undeveloped and living under the totalitarian hand of absolute dictatorship. The weather in the areas visited is horrendous with normal almost year round temperatures below zero Fahrenheit.

In almost understated tones, Elo brings to life Natalie’s adventures in an alien land while looking for her grandmother and other relatives. A fascinating novel and one which cannot be picked up to read without finishing it.

3/19 Paul Lane

FINDING KATARINA M. by Elisabeth Elo. Polis Books (March 19, 2019). ISBN 978-1947993433. 352p.

Kindle

Audiobook


THE MALTA EXCHANGE by Steve Berry

March 20, 2019

Click to purchase

 Cotton Malone, Book 14

The nicest touch about many of Berry’s novels is the close attention paid to the historical setting of the book. He and his wife founded the group “History Matters” and are very involved in bringing to light the actual events occurring in world history.

“The Malta Exchange” features Cotton Malone and what is looking more and more like his protege, Luke Daniels, working on an assignment for the Magellan Billet a secret U.S. government organization. Luke is a new employee with the Billet while Cotton is retired after years of service with them. Cotton is on paid temporary assignment with them in the book The two are sent to Italy to search for papers missing since World War II which delineate an attempt by Winston Churchill to arrange a peace with Mussolini, the than Italian dictator, and which could very well rewrite history if brought to light,

The action in this story takes place during a time when the current Pope has died and a conclave of Cardinals of the Catholic Church has been called to the Vatican to decide upon a new Pope. Mr Berry includes a history of both the Church as well as the island of Malta as background to his novel. These sidebars have been setup as part and parcel of the search for the Churchill papers and, I believe, that they make a good story even better. The Church’s history as depicted, goes back to it’s beginnings and includes events during the reign of Constantine during the fourth century A.D. in which that king became instrumental in making the Church the world wide organization that it currently is. Malta’s history includes centuries of being the territory of one nation after another and beginning at least 5000 years ago as cave drawings show humans living there at that point in the past.

Two brothers have been plotting for years to elevate one of them to the Papacy at the appropriate time. Their scheming and the actual attempt at getting elected to the position via clandestine activities comprise much of the investigative activity of Malone and Daniels. By itself this attempt will draw in readers and with the addition of the well documented historical background make for a great novel.

I reiterate that I find the historical facts brought into Berry’s novels fascinating and bring out the the truism that the events of the past are not cut and dried. They are open to analysis and can be shown to influence events much more than normally thought. Readers can interpret these background explanations as helping to solve a mystery even if they do not enjoy the interjection of new facts in history as part of the book. I, personally, always await the next Steve Berry novel with a great deal of anticipation.

3/19 Paul Lane

THE MALTA EXCHANGE by Steve Berry. Minotaur Books (March 5, 2019). ISBN 978-1250140265. 416p.

Kindle

Audible


RUN AWAY by Harlan Coben

March 19, 2019

Click to purchase

There is a truism involved in reading any of Harlan Coben’s books. I have found it so over the years that I have had the pleasure of reading them. And that is one has to begin to read his latest novel early on an otherwise free day. And that is because the author captures you quickly and it is impossible to put it down before finishing it. “Run Away” is no exception although it does involve a stretch of the imagination to accept the plot closely adhering to what might be real life. But that is the author’s job: telling a good story in a way that captures his or her reader’s interest and attention. And that is what Coben does and does well with this novel being no exception.

Ingrid and Simon, husband and wife, live in Manhattan with their three children. They are both successful in their individual careers; Ingrid a pediatrician and Simon a partner in a lucrative counselling service advising others how to invest their money. Due to their professions an upscale life style is attained. It would be perfect except for a conflict with their eldest child: Paige. She has had many strong arguments with her parents and the opening of the book is at a point where Paige has run away from home. She has not returned nor even called during that period. Simon misses her very much and has taken to sitting in a section of the nearby Central Park at a spot that his daughter loved thinking of her.

About six months after Paige disappeared and while Simon is sitting in that spot he sees his daughter playing the violin for money from the onlookers there. He attempts to talk to her, but she runs from him. The remainder of the book sets up Simon and his wife’s search for Paige. They run into drug dealers, a cult, DNA testing and it’s consequences, two murderers and the killing done by these people. Yes. a search such as is being described would most likely not have all the depicted events occur in real life. But in the hands of Harlan Coben these become a necessary part of the plot and termed the author’s literary license to tell his story. Well done and engrossing novel.

3/19 Paul Lane

RUN AWAY by Harlan Coben. Grand Central Publishing (March 19, 2019). ISBN 978-1538748466. 384p.

Kindle

Audible


THE GARDENER OF EDEN by David Downie

March 17, 2019

Click to purchase

The novel opens with the sudden appearance in the Timber logging town of Carverville by a middle aged man calling himself JP. Carverville is an area of the U.S. that has seen better days and the consequent relocation of many of it’s young people looking for a better future.

JP is one of these and has returned after an absence of 40 years. He finds work at a run down motel basically trying to tidy the place in return for food and room to park the RV that he has arrived in.

Events involve in James, as his name is, discovering that shadows envelope the town and corruption runs rampant. As more and more facts emerge about what is going on in Carverville the author makes his personal position clear. He indicates through his characters that the downfall of many areas n the country are being adversely affected by the actions of the government. While this opinion may not be held by the reader the story is still an interesting one.

James finds old high school friends and what has happened to them over the years. The corruption is done by people that he knew in the past and gave indications even than of what they will become later. There is no surprise in reading Downie’s novel and the ending is one that is totally logical based on events as described.

The book is not an all night grabber but is a good story written by an author who has a good many credits to his name.

3/19 Paul Lane

THE GARDENER OF EDEN by David Downie. Pegasus Books; 1 edition (March 5, 2019). ISBN 978-1643130040. 272p.

Kindle


BEAUTIFUL BAD by Annie Ward

March 15, 2019

Click to purchase

One can say that this book is a wonderful love story, but it is a novel far above the recounting of a romance. It is a story that moves through various twists and turns granting the mesmerized reader a good deal of sleepless moments while glued to the pages.

Maddie (Madeline) and Ian’s love story begins when she is in a position overseas and visits a friend of hers in a nearby country. At a party she meets Ian who is a professional soldier in the British army. He is currently part of a detachment guarding diplomats stationed at embassies in that country. She falls for him, and he for her but it takes a period of 16 years for the two to finally marry and settle in Maddie’s home state of Kansas. Their union produces a beautiful son named Charlie loved by both in a marriage that seems very successful.

Things change when Maddie suffers an accident during a camping trip, scarring her face and causing her to begin seeing a therapist to help her come to grips with the disfigurement. It is during her visits to the analyst that the fact that Ian suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) due to his constant postings into combat areas comes out. Since it is Maddie that is used as the first person narrator we learn much about the symptoms of Ian’s PTSD as outlined by her. She is, by her own admission, living with a man with an abundance of phobias that make life for both difficult.

The ending is an incredible piece of writing which brings the reader through several complete changes of view about what has and is happening. Ward has written other novels prior to “Beautiful Bad” but she has certainly vaulted to a place right at the apex of the literary world. I can’t wait for her next book and I’m sure that this will be the reaction of anyone reading this book.

3/19 Paul Lane

BEAUTIFUL BAD by Annie Ward. Knopf (March 5, 2019). ISBN 978-0525521877. 272p.

Kindle

Audible


OF FIRE AND LIONS by Mesu Andrews

March 10, 2019

Click to purchase

A well written novel based on the Old Testament story of Daniel. The author evidences a great deal of research in presenting a novel like account of the life and times of the prophet. Daniel lived during the tumultuous times characterized by the rule of Nebuchadnezzar over the city state of Babylon and his conquests of much of the known world. The novel begins as the young girl Abigail is taken prisoner by the invading army of the Babylonians conquering Jerusalem and taking her and many others captives. They are being brought to Babylon as slaves. Along with her are five young men including Daniel and four of his friends. Daniel takes a liking and interest in Abigail starting a lifetime of love between them.

Andrews does not gloss over the miracles attributed to Daniel’s times and caused by the one god, Yahweh, that was worshiped by his people. There is the survival of his friends thrown into a blazing furnace and the later survival by Daniel of being thrown into a pit with several hungry lions. He is brought to Babylon in order to be trained to govern under the sway of Nebuchadnezzar along with other selected Hebrews as a means of assuring the rule of a wide variety of men selected from Babylon’s conquests. This is seen as a means of assuring loyalty to Babylon and is a far reaching belief going beyond the period being looked at.

Andrews, as is her practice, has done a good deal of research into the period surrounding Daniel’s life both by close reading of the book of Daniel and other prophets of that era as well as other surviving works available at present day. Literary license allows the author to resurrect conversations that possibly could have taken place based on events depicted. As an historical work the recreating of the world of about 500 B.C. is truly an engrossing project. The book is made into both a captivating novel as well as the creation of life lived in another and stranger period. The novel is by any definition a mesmerizing read and an all nighter for the reader.

3/19 Paul Lane

OF FIRE AND LIONS by Mesu Andrews. WaterBrook (March 5, 2019). ISBN 978-0735291867. 400p.

Kindle

Audible