ELEVATOR PITCH by Linwood Barclay

September 18, 2019

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Events in this novel begin on a Monday when an elevator in a high rise office building breaks through its safety features and plunges down, killing all four passengers riding in it. Popular conjecture is that it is a fluke in as much as elevator accidents are fortunately very few and far between. But another accident occurs in a different building on Tuesday indicating quite clearly that these are not accidents. Then again a third accident takes place on Wednesday.

The public in New York City, the scene of the accidents panics and the city is thrown into chaos with doubt in everyone’s mind about the safety of riding elevators up and down going and coming from work.  A body is then discovered that has had its fingers cut off, and is tied to the elevator tragedy.

The novel then follows the work of two New York City detectives and an active journalist in looking at the facts discovered, the possibilities that exist, and key persons to solve the mystery.

Barclay, as is his custom and his talent, grabs hold of his readers and holds them until the very logical ending. Personal facts brought out about each of the individuals working the case make for a better read in the sense that each becomes more of a real person. The use of elevators as murder weapons and the reasons for doing so are clearly explained and help the novel become another typical interesting Linwood Barclay read.

9/19 Paul Lane

ELEVATOR PITCH by Linwood Barclay. William Morrow (September 17, 2019). ISBN 978-1250182296. 464p.


NOTHING VENTURED by Jeffrey Archer

September 7, 2019

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William Warwick Novels, Book 1

“Nothing Ventured” marks the start of a new series by the very versatile Jeffrey Archer. As in all his other works, the writing is crisp, characterizations well done, and the plot captures the reader’s immediate attention. It is a novel about a detective and it does definitely involve cases that are believable and solved only by hard police work.

William Warwick is the son of a very successful defense attorney, who would like nothing better than to have his son enter his practice when the time has come. But William, at the tender age of eight, wants nothing less than to work as a detective and aims for that goal. While both his father and his sister Grace are attorneys, William doesn’t lose sight of his goal.

After finishing university, he applies to and is accepted for London’s Metropolitan Police Force .After undergoing an apprenticeship under the watchful eye of an experienced patrolman, William manages an appointment to Scotland Yard’s Arts and Antiquities Squad.

The story follows William’s first case, does not gloss over his initial trials and possible errors, and becomes a very engrossing novel. In tracing a possible lead in a case involving a missing Rembrandt masterpiece, he visits an art gallery and meets Beth Rainsford. Beth is a beautiful woman and does become the person that William is interested in marrying. To add a bit of spice, Beth has a secret of her own which she is reluctant to share with William and one which will have a bearing on an action of his.

Archer points out his probable future plans for this series by placing the start of William’s police career in the mid 1980’s. This would mean that future novels will bring him into the 21st century, certainly books that will reflect his literary skills and attract the reader to seek them out.

9/19 Paul Lane

NOTHING VENTURED by Jeffrey Archer. St. Martin’s Press (September 3, 2019). ISBN 978-1250200761. 336p.

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THE EXTINCTION AGENDA Michael Laurence

September 2, 2019

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Michael Laurence starts out with the beginnings of an extremely interesting novel set on the U.S. – Mexican border and involving the constant effort of the Border Patrol to keep out illegal aliens. He then moves forward and presents his readers with a much larger and more engrossing plot.

James Mason and his strike force are met as they launch a raid against what are perceived as smugglers, but encounter evidence of an adversary aiming to destroy humanity for their own evil intentions. During the raid, many of Mason’s strike force are killed as well as his partner who was his mentor during his early years with his bureau.

Returning to his division, James becomes possessed by what he is sure that he found, and in spite of his superior’s opposition to the idea, launches his own investigation into what he has seen and determined in the building raided on the border. He is positive that what is planned is far and away over and above a case of smuggling in material into the U.S. Proving that he is correct in his assumptions, his wife, who is an investigator for the Internal Revenue Service, is killed in an explosion while investigating a potential suspect in what is probably a warning to leave the investigation.

With the help of two of his friends, Mason finds that what he has uncovered is a conspiracy that has been hatched more than a hundred years earlier, about the period of the first World War. The investigation, what is uncovered, and the events involved in solving the mystery are handled in a fashion geared to keeping the reader glued to the book and wondering what is really involved.

The ending is a logical one stemming from the events depicted and also leaves enough room for more books about James Mason and the two friends that helped him in this one. Based on the way Laurence handles this novel, they should also be all-nighters and sought after by his readers.

9/19 Paul Lane

THE EXTINCTION AGENDA Michael Laurence. St. Martin’s Press (September 3, 2019). ISBN 978-1250158482. 400p.

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LEVIATHAN by James Byron Huggins

August 22, 2019

The author creates a novel loosely tied to the Norse legends of heroic men fighting dragons in ancient days. It is appropriately set on an island off the coast of Iceland and takes place in modern times. An experiment by a group of scientists has turned a kimono dragon into a fearsome creature via changing the relatively mild dragon into a real dragon via adjustment of it’s DNA It can bend steel and granite and has the ability to shoot fire at it’s enemies. The purpose of the change is to create an unconquerable weapon of war and it certainly has done so.

The experimental company is comprised of scientists, soldiers, and support personnel. When Leviathan escapes it’s confinement area all realize that the beast, if it reaches the outside has the ability to literally wipe out the entire population of earth. Making the matter even more dangerous is the perception of the beast that every living human being is it’s enemy and must be destroyed.

The battle to somehow destroy Leviathan is spearheaded by a mechanically inclined electrical engineer named Connor, who finds ways to take on the dragon and supply the incentive for others to join in the fight since a bad outcome could mean the end of mankind.

The descriptions of the many attempts to stop Leviathan are very well done and actually appear to accelerate as the reader goes ahead with the novel. Huggins has a solid background of authoring similar books featuring fights against almost supernatural creatures by men and women who seem to exceed what is normal in life.

8/19 Paul Lane

LEVIATHAN by James Byron Huggins. WildBlue Press (July 9, 2019). ISBN 978-1948239868. 480p.

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THE PERFECT SON by Lauren North

August 18, 2019

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This novel is North’s first book and it definitely heralds the appearance of a very talented author on the literary scene. It is an emotional roller coaster taking hold of the reader and holding him or her until the quite satisfying ending.

Tess Clarke is a happily married young woman with a young son the cement further bonding the couple. They have also purchased a new home away from the hustle and bustle of London assuring a better lifestyle for all three. Her husband, Mark, has just been promoted to the sales department with the firm he works for when suddenly tragedy strikes. On a sales trip to Germany, Mark, leaving ahead of other staff members coming there, is killed when the plane he is on crashes, killing all aboard.

Tess is devastated but somehow manages to put her son, Jamie’s well being ahead of her own. Not knowing how to act she imagines conversations with Mark and his probable replies in examining the world she now lives in. Mark’s brother Ian visits her and instead of being a comfort tells Tess that her husband borrowed 100,000 pounds from him and he needs the money returned immediately. Ian tells her that she should immediately check out her husband’s will, his insurance policies and benefits that could have accrued to the estate.

Not exactly a comforting presence is he? At the same time a grief counselor visits her in order to help Tessa come to grips with her loss. Trouble is that the counselor had lost a young son to leukemia shortly before these events and Tessa gets to feeling that the woman is interested in taking Jamie from her and not in helping her.

The story is told via the descriptions of the days before Jamie’s birthday and what happens during this period. Ms North handles the slow but sure decay of Tessa quite well, keeping the reader glued to the pages and also changing his or her mind about the ending several times. Very well done and an excellent start for this new author.

8/19 Paul Lane

THE PERFECT SON by Lauren North. Berkley (August 13, 2019). ISBN 978-1984803849. 368p.

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THE DOLL FACTORY by Elizabeth Macneal

August 16, 2019

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The author sets her story in the London of the 1850’s and sets it very well, describing the city at that time with both its problems and also its attractions. She does an excellent job of presenting the persona involved with their distinct personalities and their reactions to their own time.

The Great Exhibition, a huge hall, is being erected in 1850 in London to showcase as many of the symbols of life at the time, as well as objects that might illustrate the future. Among the exhibitions are portraits done by the artists of the day. The building has an important part to play in the events depicted in the novel.

Iris is a young lady that, due to her background and lack of money, works in a shop making items for the woman in charge. Her sister Rose works with her. As the novel begins, Iris goes to the grounds of the Great Exhibition to have a look at this marvel. In passing she bumps into Silas, whose forte is obtaining either by purchase or killing birds and other animals, mounting them and selling them to artists to use as models in their paintings. Iris forgets the encounter, but Silas imagines that she fell in love with him at that moment. Silas is a psychopath with these tendencies beginning during his early life when he fantasized that a girl he knew was secretly in love with him. When she didn’t respond to him he lured her away from their area and in a secluded woods killed her.

Iris delivers an order from her shop to an artist named Louis Frost. He is struck by her beauty and asks her to model for him. Iris consents but indicates as part of her terms that Louis teach her to paint as well as paying her for the time. The artist later notes that Iris has the talent to become a first class artist, and also falls in love with her, and she with him.

The novel is dedicated to describing the interactions between the three people. It is extremely well done and while the ending is a direct output of the actions of the characters and not a surprise, it provides a good read with the desire instilled to buy more books by Elizabeth Macneal.

8/19 Paul Lane

THE DOLL FACTORY by Elizabeth Macneal.  Atria/Emily Bestler Books (August 13, 2019). ISBN 978-1982106768. 368p.

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THIRTEEN by Steve Cavanagh

August 13, 2019

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Eddie Flynn, Book 3

Wow – that’s the one word I must use in describing Cavanaugh’s novel featuring former con man and huckster turned defense attorney Eddy Flynn. The novel is a wonderful romp through a murder trial and of course it had to be finished in one sitting (only one cup of coffee though – have to watch the caffeine so I can sleep until Cavanaugh’s next book is published.

Bobby Solomon, a first tier screen actor is accused of killing both his wife, who is his normal co=star, and his agent who were supposedly caught by him in bed together. The star is indicted and is put on trial for murder. Eddy is called upon by the firm handling Bobby’s defense to help them as needed via discrediting testimony by the police officers involved in the arrest. Needing a job Eddy signs on, but due to a change in circumstances finds himself handing the total defense. He hires a former FBI agent to help him with investigations necessary to work the case properly. The lady proves quite capable in working all angles necessary to aid in the defense. She is also introduced as a possible romantic interest in the future since Eddy’s current wife is in the process of divorcing him.

Cavanagh skillfully takes us through the events involved in the trial, starting with picking a jury and moving forward from there. Eddy is shown as human – he does not come up with brilliant one time off the cuff ideas. He has his doubts but continues to work the case as well as he is able. His logical approach turns up one startling factor that becomes the most important aspect of the case. The real killer is not only in court to watch the proceedings; he is actually one of the twelve jurors and in the most advantageous position to influence the verdict.

The rating system we are accustomed to in reviewing a book involves stars – five for best. I really think that that total is not enough. The reader will judge the book, undoubtedly have one or two cups of coffee and relish a superb reading experience and like myself will eagerly await Steve Cavanagh’s future novels.

8/19 Paul Lane

THIRTEEN by Steve Cavanagh. Flatiron Books (August 13, 2019). ISBN 978-1250297600. 336p.

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NONDISCLOSURE by Geoffrey M Cooper

July 28, 2019

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This is Dr. Cooper’s second published novel. In it, he takes a look at a problem that is appearing with more frequency in our society. This is the sexual attacks against women who have given the attacker no cause to presume that they would welcome a sexual advance. The attacker than goes ahead with the possible self delusion that the lady really would welcome his attentions.

Dr. Brad Parker is head of a department at a leading Boston area university. He is preparing to go into a meeting with his supervisor when he is called aside and advised that a member of the faculty in his department has drugged and raped a student. Parker immediately tells his supervisor what he learned and indicates that the victim identified her attacker.

Karen Richmond, a university employed detective, is called in and she begins working with Parker. As the two commence bringing out details of the rape the young lady is brutally attacked and murdered: obviously the work of her original attacker looking to cover up the crime.

Dr. Cooper brings in many factors that for different reasons often prevent the truth from coming out in the cases of unwanted sexual attack. It is a problem and has been for some time and in many cases difficult to prosecute due to factors keeping the victim afraid to testify. At the same time that publicity is centered on predator sexual attacks the author brings out a current very interesting new direction of medical research that has the possibility of becoming a definite life saver. These are gene based drugs and immunotherapy currently directions taken by state of the art research centers with promise of great advancement in attacking such diseases as cancer in many of it’s forms.

Writing is crisp and certainly succeeds in making this novel one that the reader will not be able to put down until the end. Very well done and certainly indicative of the entrance of a gifted author with the personal knowledge to contribute much to the area of medical thrillers.

7/19 Paul Lane

NONDISCLOSURE by Geoffrey M Cooper. Captain Thomas Publishing (July 15, 2019). ISBN 978-1733771405. 236p.

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LAYOVER by David Bell

July 10, 2019

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Joshua Fields is a workaholic. The good part of that is he works for his father who has every intention of turning their thriving business over to his son as soon as Joshua is ready. The bad part of that is that he is always traveling; in and out of airports all around the country and living out of suitcases in one hotel after another. He has a girlfriend that he thinks he will marry but is not that excited about the prospect. He also does not like flying, and lives on Xanax in order to be able to board a flight.

The story begins with Joshua meeting a beautiful girl at an airport, sharing a drink, and a kiss and realizing that he wants to have more with Morgan; the lady in question. He than begins a round of chasing after her from one city after another until they meet again. This time the two share a beautiful interlude of sex until Morgan just disappears again. Joshua chases after her; does not meet his father at a very important meeting with prospective customers in Florida, and becomes involved with Morgan’s problems which may include being involved with murder.

The events of the novel are laid out in a very enticing way, and they lend themselves into having to finish the book in one delightful read. It has been several years since Mr Bell’s last book was published and that for me was a spoiler via hoping that his next book will be available shortly. But than again one cannot ask a gifted writer to hurry the next finished project and risking the possibility that it will not match his previous books. A five star novel and one that does continue the author’s literary reputation and the hope that more of his works will be available shortly.

7/19 Paul Lane

LAYOVER by David Bell. Berkley; 1st PB edition (July 2, 2019). ISBN 978-0440000877. 416p.

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IF SHE WAKES by Michael Koryta

July 6, 2019

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The book opens as Tara Beckley, a senior at Hammel college, a small university level school situated in Maine, is driving a visiting dignitary to a conference being sponsored by her college. Suddenly, there is a horrendous accident, killing the professor and leaving Tara in a vegetative state. She is aware of her surroundings and what is going on, but in what is termed “locked-in syndrome,” unable to move or communicate with the outside world.

Abby Kaplan, a former stunt driver involved in an accident resulting in one fatality, is now an insurance investigator is assigned by the college to look into the accident and make a determination of who is at fault. The events occurring in the novel revolve around both Abby and Tara and what happens to them. Tara, of course, is completely paralyzed but soon realizes that someone wants her dead in order to cover their tracks regarding the accident. Abby has her own demons beginning with her early career as a very talented stunt driver, but than stopped when she is involved in the accident resulting in a fatality.

Koryta’s reputation as an author that easily grabs his readers and creates situations that keep them glued to the book does it again. With the introduction of a professional killer named Dax, the son and also the nephew of two brothers that were famed for their murders, the reader cannot put the book down until finished. The description of Tara caught in her state, yet aware of the outside world, gives the reader an introduction to a human situation that, fortunately, is not a common one. Abby, normally a brave young lady must conquer her fears of driving while working on the case and does find that those circumstances hinder her in a situation that demands she override them. Even Dax is capable of attracting the reader in his own cold blooded way.

The novel moves with the ease Koryta has always demonstrated. The ending flawlessly flows from the events described in the book, and my recommendation to all is read this one and than just sit tight until Koryta’s next book comes out.

7/19 Paul Lane

IF SHE WAKES by Michael Koryta. Little, Brown and Company (May 14, 2019). ISBN 978-0316294003. 400p.

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