thriller

Review of ‘Condemned’

Posted on Updated on

When Julian Mercer’s wife was brutally murdered, he became emotionally unbalanced and was forced to retire from the SAS. Now, working with his old SAS team, he’s a recovery specialist, tasked with retrieving kidnap victims safely.

In Chicago for a job that fell through, Mercer hears a woman’s scream. In an alley, he finds a young woman holding the body of a man who has been shot. Before he can explain his presence, the police arrive and arrest him because he’s armed. It gets sorted out, and later, a media magnate contacts him for a job—he’s the father of the young woman, and he wants to hire Mercer and his team to protect her. Mercer has concerns about the job, but takes it anyway.

The more he’s associated with the case, the more he knows that his client, the daughter, and just about everyone connected with the case, are withholding important information.

Plots, counterplots, and intrigue inhabit every page of Condemned by G.K. Parks. Well-plotted and full of action, this is a good read for a slow weekend.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Snapped’

Posted on Updated on

After completing FBI training, former sheriff’s deputy, Jade Monroe, is assigned to a Midwestern office of the bureau. When a series of murders in Houston, TX cause local authorities to think they have a serial killer stalking their streets, Jade and her partner, J.T. Harper are dispatched to assist them in apprehending the person responsible for some really gruesome crimes.

The list of victims continues to grow as Jade and J.T. work tirelessly to identify the perpetrator. Jade goes against the common wisdom—that the killer is male—and insists that they are looking for a woman. When she identifies a potential suspect, she makes herself a target, and is taken hostage. The clock, at that point, really starts ticking as J.T. and the bureau pull out all the stops to recover her. But, Jade has her own cards to play.

Snapped by C.M. Sutter is book one in the Agent Jade Monroe FBI thriller series. It is fast-paced, with all the hallmarks of good mystery writing. The reader is given all the information up front, the mystery being, can Jade stop the killer before she herself becomes a victim. The action in this story takes place against the backdrop of Jade’s search for the man who killed her father, a highly respected policeman himself.

This a series to keep an eye on. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Not What She Seems’

Posted on Updated on

Steven Ashton is a billionaire from New York, looking for a place to get away from it all. Emily Grant is a single mother on the run from the law. A chance meeting in Nevada, and again in a small midwestern town is fateful for both. Steven finds himself falling for her, unaware that her traveling companion, Richard, is controlling her and planning to set him up for a scam.

At their paths continue to cross, Steven finally learns that Emily thinks she killed her abusive husband, and is, with Richard’s help, trying to elude the law. The more he learns, though, the more he’s convinced that she’s a victim, not a killer, and that Richard is a dangerous man.

Not What She Seems by Victorine E. Lieske is a chilling thriller about victimhood, and the danger of falling for first impressions. As Steven wrestles with his feelings for Emily and her son, Conner, and Richard falls ever deeper into the dark recesses of his tortured mind. A final, fateful encounter is being set up, that will shake their beliefs to the very core of their being.

Lieske plots a tricky story that will hit you between the eyes with its surprise ending like a cinder block. She lives up to her bestseller billing.

I give this book five stars.

Review of ‘The Hyperion Web’

Posted on Updated on

A shadowy organization, The Hyperion, launches a deadly attack on the United States. Unlike previous terrorist attacks, though, no one claims responsibility, or issues a public statement. The president is worried, because the effect of the attack is putting him in a position where he might have to resign and turn the Oval Office over to his vice president, a man whose politics is markedly different from his own.

He turns to ex-NFL player, ex-Special Forces soldier, Jack Crockett, now a one-eyed mercenary for hire, to find and punish the perpetrators. With the help of an intelligence agent he rescued from a group of thugs, and a behemoth of a former Marine, Jack dives into the murky waters of international terrorism, where he becomes the shark looking for prey.

The Hyperion Web by D.P. Mitchell is a tense, high-stakes drama set against the backdrop of international and domestic intrigue, high-tech warfare, and double dealing aplenty. This story has elements of The Manchurian Candidate and Rambo and is only marred, in my humble opinion, by the frequency of head hopping among the vast cast of characters. That won’t, however, keep you from enjoying it.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Surrogate’

Posted on Updated on

Paul Medved, a former MACV-SOG soldier, works as an undercover narc in Pittsburgh. He’s been undercover so long, he’s one of the force’s most effective operators, but he’s no longer able to go back to being a regular cop. The drug war in south Florida and the Caribbean is heating up, and DEA is hot to get one of the main players behind it, Haiti-based drug kingpin, Herve Villafranca. They request operational assistance from Paul. At the same time, another government agency learns that the drug cartels are involved in international terrorism, and they want Paul as an asset to track down those behind it all. Paul takes on this job as well, but soon finds that it’s a challenge playing the triple game.

Surrogate by Regis P. Sheehan is a chillingly real story of the nexus between illegal drugs and terrorism. It reads as if it was ripped from the daily news. Although, there are a large number of digressions as the local history of places or organizations is given, this only slows the flow of reading a tad. The story would still be entertaining without them, but they weren’t unappreciated.

All in all, an entertaining read. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘No Man’s Land’

Posted on Updated on

John and Robert Puller were just kids when their mother, Jackie, disappeared.  Thirty years later, their father, legendary three-star general John Puller, now suffering from dementia, is accused of killing her. John, a chief warrant officer with army CID, with the help of his brother and an enigmatic secret agent, Veronica Knox, determines to solve his mother’s case–even if it means implicating his father.

At the same time Paul Rogers, in prison for 17 years for manslaughter, is paroled. Rogers had been in the same place as Jackie Puller at the time of her disappearance.

The paths of these two men cross with a bang in David Baldacci’s No Man’s Land. Classic Baldacci, it keeps you guessing until the end, and doesn’t fail to entertain the whole way.

I received this book as a gift.  I give it five stars.

 

Review of ‘Behind Closed Doors’

Posted on Updated on

From the outside, Grace and Jack Angel seem the perfect couple. He’s a hotshot lawyer who has never lost a case, and she’s beautiful; the perfect housewife, living in the perfect house. No one seems to notice that she doesn’t have a cell phone, never leaves the house alone, and has no friends other than those Jack brings to their house—other than her sister, Millie, who suffers from Downs Syndrome.

Inside, though, things are different. Jack likes to win, and be in control, and Grace is the object of his intentions, almost. Jack has a dark secret, which he shares with Grace, and a goal, which he also shares with her, and both cause Grace to make a decision. She must kill her husband.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris is . . . well, frankly, it’s difficult to say just what it is. There are elements of mystery, a touch of thriller, one could also say horror, and a well-crafted, well-plotted story that follows Grace’s journey as she discovers herself, and learns just what she’s capable of, given the right motivation. Think ‘Stepford Wives’ done by Alfred Hitchcock, and you’ll have an inkling of just how scary this book is.

I received this book as a gift. I’m not sure what the giver was trying to tell me, or whether to be thankful or wary. Oh, I enjoyed the heck out of it.

It sagged a bit in the middle, but picked up nicely toward the end, so I give it three and a half stars.

Review of ‘Under the High Ground’

Posted on Updated on

Washington Post reporter, Paul Litic, continues to investigate the bombing death of his father, former editor of the Post—killed when Paul was just a kid. Now, he gets a call; a voice on the phone asking for a secret meeting, with the promise of answers to his questions. His brother, Al, President of the United States, goes to the meeting in Paul’s place, and is killed. Just hours after the murder, Paul is contacted by the FBI to travel to the scene of the private plane crash to verify that the remains of the pilot—who died from gunshot wounds, not the crash—are indeed those of the president.

Paul is then put on a collision course with destiny when the Chairman of the Joints of Staff, a long-time Washington power broker from a wealthy family, encourages him to investigate his brother’s murder, and provides him with a partner, an Australian counterterrorism and forensics specialist, who also happens to be drop-dead gorgeous. As the two dive deeper into the murky waters of Washington politics, sparks fly—and, they’re not all romantic.

Under the High Ground by Scott Michaels is a first-class thriller that peels the onion of power politics, exposing the stink that lies just beneath the surface. You’ll cheer the good guys; that is, if you can figure out who they are, and you’ll cheer when the bad guys get what’s coming to them. Yup, it’s that good.

I received a free copy of this book.

A solid five stars.

Review of ‘The Thing Speaks for Itself’

Posted on Updated on

Rookie Diplomatic Security Special Agent Gracie Stratis and her veteran partner, senior Special Agent Charles Davis, are assigned to the Los Angeles field office, where they investigate passport and visa fraud and provide protective details to foreign VIPs visiting the city. Gracie is looking forward to a career of travel and adventure until assassins attempt to kill a Mexican official she and her colleagues are guarding, Davis is killed, and she’s severely injured.

Back home in Oakland, recuperating from her injuries, she reunites with her brother and friends, the only family she’s known for a long time. The long and difficult rehabilitation process is impeded by strange visions of smoke and fire, and messages from her dead father. Then, Noah, one of her friends who is employed by the mayor’s office on a special community development project, goes missing.

Gracie and her friends pull out all the stops, and start turning over rocks in search for Noah, in the process irritating some dangerous people, including a crooked businessman with visions of grandeur, and a drug dealer with a thing about people wearing shoes in his house. When she starts getting too close to the truth, political payoffs on a large scale, attempts are made on her life, and another of her friends is killed, which is a mistake for the bad guys—Gracie Stratis doesn’t like it when people hurt her friends. With help from a grizzled old PI, and her father’s . . . spirit, Grace kicks butt all over Oakland.

The Think Speaks for Itself by A.S.A. Purphy is a fun read. Tons of white-hot action and a female main character that makes Jason Bourne look like a wimp. Some of the events strain credulity; it’s unlikely that the Secretary of State would become involved in the hiring of a junior Diplomatic Security agent, for example, but that bit of literary license can be forgiven, because the reader’s taken on an entertaining ride.

I received a free copy of this book.   I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Resurrection America’

Posted on Updated on

When his deputy, Manny Garcia made a frantic call and then went off the air, Sheriff Rick Johnson of Resurrection, Colorado, had a feeling that something was wrong. When he drove out to the old Resurrection Mine looking for Garcia, and found an impenetrable military grade fence and armed guards, led by a cold-eyed elderly man wearing a suit, he knew something was wrong.

When the man, Hank Keefer, told him his company, CZ Corporation, was planning to reopen the mine as a totally automated operation, and then offered him money to keep this fact secret from the townspeople for a few days, Rick accepted, but smelled a rat. On the day of Resurrection’s big town festival, with some two thousand visitors, Keefer tells Rick the truth, he’s been working on a secret weapon, and there’s been an accident and the people have all been exposed to a deadly virus, requiring that the town be quarantined by a highly armed force.

As things progress, Rick and his friends realize that something far worse than an accident has occurred—Keefer has a deadly plan that could spell the literal end of Resurrection. It’s left to Rick and his former lover, scientist Cassie Baker, to put a stop to it.

Resurrection America by Jeff Gunhus is a spine-chilling thriller of duplicity and the misuse of power, and shows how bad things can become when those in power are not held accountable. This one will make you think, and think hard.

 

I received an advance review copy of this book, which will be published in June 2017. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘The Watcher Within’

Posted on Updated on

Frank Silver is apartment-bound and suffering from severe agoraphobia. He spends much of his time observing the world outside his apartment, in particular, the Kabbalah Institute across the street. One Friday night he observes an attractive woman entering the institute, a place that is supposed to be closed at that time, and denied to women at all times. When he sees a second women enter the place a week later, and then learns that a prostitute’s body has been found in the sewer drain nearby, his suspicions are aroused—he knows that something evil is taking place, but he finds it difficult to convince an overworked homicide detective of that.

His persistence, and some amateur sleuthing on the part of his housekeeper, finally gets the detective to visit the institute, an action that will soon have dire consequences for Silver. Joseph Goodman, an eccentric Talmudic scholar with macabre leanings, had been evicted from the institute, but had secreted himself in one of its unused spaces, from which he pursued his deadly quest. When he inadvertently learns that Silver’s watching has threatened his haven, he vows revenge, and takes it by kidnapping Silver’s recently acquired girlfriend.

The Watcher Within by William Appel is noir fiction at its finest. Tension and suspense begins on the first page, and builds increasingly to an explosive climax as Silver must overcome his phobia in order to save his girlfriend’s life.

This one’s a typical Appel page-turner that, even though you know the killer’s identity from the start, has you wondering how it will turn out. The obstacles faced by the hero seem insurmountable, and on several occasions, you’re sure he’s hit a brick wall—then, he hits back. This is a book that takes the reader deep into the darkest depths of human depravity, a journey that will leave you breathless.

I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Hidden Agenda’

Posted on Updated on

When special operations soldier, Dan Roy, seconded to a super-secret black ops agency, stumbles across a secret cache of American weapons in Afghanistan while hunting a high-value target, he’s accused of working with the enemy. When people around him start to die, he discovers a plot to attack America where it hurts. Then, his best friend and mentor is killed, and, working with the dead man’s daughter, Dan sets out to thwart a plot that, if successful, could start World War III.

Hidden Agenda by Mick Bose is a fast-paced action thriller that pits one determined man against sinister forces with a deadly hidden agenda. The action starts white-hot from the beginning, and never lets up until the final pages. This could be a superior action novel, but for the many grammatical and typographical problems throughout. Even with the problems, it’s a fun story for action junkies.

I received a free copy of this book.

I give it three stars.

Review of ‘Burke’s Revenge’

Posted on Updated on

College professor Henry Shaw, seething over being relegated to a small, backwater college in Fayetteville, NC, has decided to betray his country and join IS. His IS masters have accepted him, and ordered him to return home to foment terror, and to organize an IS terror cell in the very heart of the home to some of America’s most elite anti-terror forces. When he begins his campaign of terror, he runs afoul of ex-Delta Force commander, Bob Burke, retired from the army and now CEO of a small telecoms company.

As bombs began to go off and people die, Burke and his elite band of brothers find themselves up against a man who loves killing, but even more troubling, someone is using him as a distraction from an even more horrendous act. Duty gets Burke involved, but when Shaw kidnaps his wife and daughter, it becomes personal.

Burke’s Revenge by William F. Brown is book three in the Bob Burke thriller series, and it continues in the same vein; non-stop action, believable characters and scenarios, and high stakes. The author knows his military weapons and tactics, but even more important, knows how to tell a good story that keeps you on the edge of your chair.

I received a free copy of this book.

I give Brown five stars for this one.

Review of ‘White Out’

Posted on Updated on

Ex-military special operations soldier, Cole Samson, is a marine salvage operator. He and his team have been hired to explore a lake bed near the Arctic Circle for possible oil deposits. What they find instead is an old Soviet plane crash site, and an artifact that has frightening powers, powers that many in places, high and low, are willing to commit the most heinous crimes to take possession of.

Samson is arrayed against a geologist, who does consulting work for a big oil company, but who has higher aspirations, and a former Soviet army thug, now wildcatter, who is in thrall to a mysterious organization whose payment for failure is death.

White Out by T.N.M. Mykytiuk is a thriller set against the historical backdrop of the post-Cold War period, with futuristic technology too powerful for the barbaric men who seek to control it. The future of the world is in Samson’s hands, as, with the aid of a Russian intelligence operative, he faces almost impossible obstacles. The characters in this book are so real, one wonders if the author had intelligence dossiers at hand as he created them; the harsh and unforgiving environment of the Arctic will chill you, and the action is non-stop.

I received a free copy of this book.

I give this one four stars.

Review of ‘Whisper He Might Hear You’

Posted on Updated on

Manhattan’s finest are puzzled by eight killings. Though the victims are seemingly unrelated victims, chief of detectives, Bill Dacey, is convinced they are the work of a single killer. He seeks the assistance of noted criminologist Kate Berman and her ME husband, Josh, to track down the killer, a wealthy, smart, but vicious killer.

Whisper He Might Hear You by William Appel is a chilling thriller that follows this indomitable trio as they race against time to stop a demented serial killer before the list of victims grows any longer.

Even though the killer’s identity is known from the early chapters, the author still manages to keep the reader guessing until the very end.

I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Ash’

Posted on Updated on

Asher Benson, a veteran of the war in Iraq, after being injured by an IED developed the ability to ‘read’ minds. Far from being a gift, his ability is a curse, and forces him to withdraw from human contact and need to deaden his senses with alcohol to make it through the day.

When a high-level politician kills himself on national TV, and a group of government employees all commit suicide, Asher finds himself hunted by a host of government agencies. With the aid of his ex-army buddy turned police detective, Asher goes on the run. While the government chases him, he is chasing a demented proxy killer who invades others’ minds.

Ash by Jason Brant is a really fast-paced thriller that, along with providing lots of bloody action, explores the impact of extended combat tours, PTSD, and traumatic brain injury in our veterans. All in all, not a bad read if a bit predictable.

I received this book as a gift.

I give it three stars.

Review of ‘Aim True, My Brothers’

Posted on Updated on

When a rogue Hamas terrorist sets out to assassinate the U.S. President, no one believes it possible. Unconventional FBI counterterrorism agent, Eddie Barnett, acting on information from his friend, Moustapha Khalid, chief of security at the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, must race against time to stop this deadly plot. As unlikely as these two are as allies, when a Mossad agent shows up to join them, Barnett must fight as hard to keep his team together as to find and stop the terrorist.

Aim True, My Brothers by William F. Brown is a no-holds-barred action thriller that could very well have been ripped from the headlines as it follows the action from the Mideast to Virginia’s Tidewater region. Brown builds the action like a master architect or choreographer and sends his characters on stage for a danse macabre that will set your heart pounding and keep your interest from the first page.

I only have one criticism of the book—well, actually, not the book itself, but the book description. It’s billed as an ‘Eddie Rankin’ FBI counter terror thriller, and the description mentions Eddie Rankin as the main character, but we’re introduced to Eddie ‘Barnett’ in the first chapter. A minor flaw, but it did have me flummoxed for several pages.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Thy Killer’s Keeper’

Posted on Updated on

When a brutal and senseless murder takes place in a small California coastal town, the FBI sends two of its agents to help local authorities investigate what they think is a serial killer. FBI Agent John Salton, though, is wrestling demons that threaten to derail the investigation. He’s convinced that his wife’s death wasn’t a freak accident, but a proxy killing, using his autistic son as the murder weapon. When his son is transferred to a treatment facility not far from the scene of the current crime, things begin to heat up.

Thy Killer’s Keeper by Edita Petrick is a blood-curdling thriller that explores a world of mind-control with a freakish twist not often found in this genre. As Salton and his partner close in on the killer, the reader is taken on a roller coaster ride of emotion, and is treated to a surprise ending that makes this a nice read for people who like their stories to really scare.

I received a free copy of this book.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Bombay Blood’

Posted on Updated on

When the selling of human organs became legal, one company, Zarus, came to dominate the world market for body parts. Most prized for the donation of organs are those with the rare blood type known as Bombay Blood. Secret Service Agent Lynn Clarke, charged with protecting the President, happens to be one of those people, and this puts her on the most-wanted list of Zarus’s CEO, bloodthirsty in a literal sense, and his mission to serve his privileged and wealthy clients at all costs.

 

Charged with treason and stripped of her badge and gun, Clarke is pursued by government agencies and organ harvesters, all determined to take her, piece by piece if necessary. But, they failed to take into account her strength of will.

 

Bombay Blood by Ray Ronan is a riveting look at what the world could look like if profit-driven CEOs were allowed to dictate the law. It also shows the power of the individual who decides to take a stand against a government dominated by the 1%. In today’s American political climate, this is must reading—almost reads like nonfiction.

I give it four stars.

 

Review of ‘A Necessary Kill’

Posted on Updated on

I want to paint a picture for you. Imagine ‘The Over the Hill Gang,’ The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight,’ ‘Rambo’, and ‘Mission: Impossible;’ not in sequence, but all smashed together. Sound like a crazy picture? Believe me, it is, and it’s just what you get when you read A Necessary Kill by James P. Sumner.

The world has been devastated by nuclear attacks, and everyone has been led to believe that they were the work of terrorists. But, legendary hitman, Adrian Hell, knows the truth. The American president was the mastermind behind this dastardly operation, and Adrian has information that points an accusing finger. Because of this, he’s being hunted by the CIA and FBI, with orders not to apprehend, but to kill.

Adrian, though, is not an easy target, and he’s determined to see the truth come out. His mission is to kill the man responsible for the largest mass murder in human history, even if it means sacrificing himself to achieve it. Adrian organizes the oddest team imaginable to accomplish this impossible mission: an over-the-hill smalltime mob hitman, a female assassin so crazy she’s been confined to a mental institution from which he must spring her, and an illegal arms dealer who doesn’t like field operations. With this ragtag crew and with the combined might of the security forces of the world’s most powerful country out to stop him, the odds are definitely not in his favor.

As they get closer to their target, though, he learns that the nuclear attack was just the prelude to an even more macabre and Machiavellian plan, one that affects not just his life, but the lives of every being on the planet. Any sane man would quit, but Adrian and his band are no longer in it just for the money—they’re out to save the world.

Death isn’t exactly funny, but you won’t be able to help laughing occasionally as this unlikely crew goes up against power in encounter after deadly encounter. As you make your way through this story, you’ll alternate between laughter and chills, because, as improbable as it sounds, there’s an eerie ring of credibility to it.

I give this book four stars.