Review of ‘Fatal Objective’
D V Berkom’s latest Leine Basso thriller, Fatal Objective, while just as good as any of the preceding volumes, is geometrically harder to review because of the danger of revealing too much and spoiling this amazing story for the reader, so I’ll just hit the high points and hope I do it justice.
Valentina is a professional assassin, good at what she does, but troubled with a condition that causes her to suffer debilitating headaches unless she receives regular medication administered by doctors beholden to the enigmatic and egomaniacal Gerhard Weber. Things begin to unravel, though, when a hit goes south and she misses her medication. Strange memories start coming back and she questions her entire existence.
How does this relate to our heroine, Leine, you might ask. Well, suffice to say that Leine swoops in to save the day. How she does it is the part that I will not share.
As usual, D V Berkom has crafted a thriller that keeps you on the edge of your chair, panting for more, more, as you turn the pages. There are enough red herrings in this story to stock a fish market, action scenes that will keep action junkies satisfied for, oh say, two or three days, and suspense thicker than Log Cabin syrup on a cold winter day.
I confess that I’ve always had a sort of crush on Leine Basso. I like the bad girls who do good, what can I say. I’ve yet to read a Leine Basso I didn’t like, but I have to say that I’ve finally read one that I like more.
I was given a review copy of this book and it has my unhesitating, resounding approval.
Review of ‘A Plague of Traitors’
Leine Basso, former government assassin, who left the business to work for S.H.E.N., an organization devoted to ending the trafficking of humans, is approached by the director of national intelligence with a proposal; train a team of Kurdish assassins to travel to Libya and prevent the transfer of a newly-developed Russian bio-weapon to Syria’s strong man.
The team’s training and the potential success of the mission is compromised by one member, Amiri, a Yazidi, who had been a captive and victim of the depredations of the Izz al-Din, a notorious Libyan terrorist group. Leine is faced with a dilemma. Amiri is one of the best, but can she be trusted to keep her anger and hunger for revenge in check? As if this isn’t a big enough problem, she has to work with an American agent, the number two in the operation, who was reassigned to the operation after an assignment in Syria, and he has a real blind spot where Syria’s madman leader is concerned, which could also jeopardize the mission.
D.V. Berkom’s A Plague of Traitors is, in my humble opinion, the best Leine Basso thriller yet. I know I’ve said that about previous books in this series, but it’s just a plain statement of fact, Berkom just keeps getting better with each offering. Like all other Leine Basso stories, this one is fast paced and filled with tension from start to finish. Do yourself a favor and get this book as soon as it’s released. I received an advance review copy of the book and give it five stars.
Review of ‘Barbouze’
British journalist, Neil Ingleby, goes to Greece to do research for a book, and to get as far away as possible from the woman who dumped him. He meets Dutch sailor and vagabond Pieter Van Loon and French agent provocateur Charles Pol, who is also a barbouze, or ‘false beard’, and quickly finds himself caught between an army of French defectors and an angry army od Arab nationalists. The line between objective journalist and revolutionary participant becomes blurred, and Ingleby’s life is on the line.
Barbouze by Alan Williams is a riveting thriller in the style of John LeCarre that will keep you glued to your seat, as the action builds inexorably to a surprising climax.
I received a complimentary copy of this book, and give it four stars.
Review of ‘I Know You’
After Bree Walker’s younger sister, Alissa, goes missing, she gets a chilling note. The kidnapper will release Alissa, but Bree must trade her brother, Tyler, in exchange.
I Know You by Erik Therme is a chilling thriller that follows Bree as she realizes that the kidnapper knows her family’s darkest secrets, and that her brother is involved in something that is far too big for him to handle. The more she discovers, the worse her situation becomes, and to make matters even more complicated, she must deal with her sister’s best friend who she’s sure knows more than she’s telling, and who insists on being involved in Alissa’s rescue.
A heart-stopping story with more twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster, this one will keep you turning pages until the ‘out-of-the-blue;’ ending that you won’t see coming. Sorry, I’m not telling. You’ll have to read it for yourself.
I give the author four solid stars for a good story.
Review of ‘A Broken Reality’
Four days after ten-year-old Danny Madsen goes missing, Jesse Carlton begins his own search for him. On an icy road late at night, he sees the boy, too late to avoid him. There’s a crash, and the body goes flying into the dark. The car crashes. When Jesse regains consciousness, he has no memory of the events, but there’s a witness who, instead of going to the police, begins to psychologically terrorize Jesse.
A Broken Reality by Rob Kaufman is a compelling psychological thriller, pitting a mentally tortured man against a sociopathic kidnapper, in a story that will suck you in like an undertow. The rollercoaster of emotions, false leads, and dramatic twists, you’ll find it hard to sympathize with anyone but the poor unfortunate Danny, a pawn in a game of mind twisting horror.
If you’re a fan of stories with a macabre twist, this is highly recommended reading. I received a complimentary copy of this book. I give Kaufman five stars for a thoroughly gripping thriller.
Review of ‘Blue Bears’
When a courier is caught transporting tactical nukes, called Blue Bears, through the Republic of Georgia, the CIA sends their resident agent, Randy Sawyer, to work with Georgian Special Forces to find and terminate the seller—and the buyer, a mad Saudi billionaire out to start World War III, and establish a terrorist caliphate. External enemies are not their only problem, they must deal with betrayal within their own ranks.
Blue Bears by Dan Andreescu and Don McQuinn is a spine-chilling international thriller that will keep you nervously flipping pages. Taut drama and suspense make this a must-read for thriller fans.
I received a complimentary copy of this book, and I give it four stars.
Review of ‘Shadow of the Jaguar’
Dr. Martin Stokes and his daughter Nancy are in the Amazon basin in Peru, on the verge of finding a lost city mentioned in a conquistadores’ ancient manuscript. When an armed group of narco-traffickers kidnap Nancy and threaten to kill her unless he leads them to the site of the city, Stokes calls on his brother, Lou for aid in rescuing her.
Leine Basso is dispatched to find and rescue Nancy, but is forced to take her own daughter April along on the mission. April, who has worked with the anti-trafficking organization as a counselor, has no experience in the field, and Leine is worried that she will have to take care of her as well as concentrate on the job at hand.
In the jungle, Leine and April find things have gone from bad to worse, and don’t know who to trust. With greed, deceit, and perfidy at every turn, they are challenged just to stay alive.
Shadow of the Jaguar by D. V. Berkom is another offering in the stellar Leine Basso series, and they just keep getting better. If you like your heroines strong, focused, and uncompromising, you’ll love this one, and it it’s your introduction to this character, it’ll whet your appetite to go back to the beginning and read the preceding volumes.
This one will grab you by your attention span and pin you to your chair until, soaked with sweat and panting, you reach the end.
I received a complimentary copy of this book, couldn’t put it down until I finished it, and give it five stars. Heck, I’d give it more if I could, but five’s the limit.
Review of ‘Hometown Boys’
Burned-out junkie Troy Ingram murders an elderly couple, and when he’s nabbed by the cops, confesses that he did it for revenge against their niece, Kelly Durrell, who spurned him twenty years earlier. When Kelly comes home to Morrison, Illinois from Denver, she finds his story less than believable, but everyone, including her own family, are all too willing to believe it. Troy’s lawyer thinks that someone else was behind the murder, and enlists Kelly’s help to find out just who that is, setting in motion a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the brains behind Troy’s murderous rampage.
Hometown Boys by Mary Maddox is a tightly-woven, intense thriller that explores the dark side of small-town America as we follow Kelly in her investigation of the crime. This book will keep you on the edge of your chair.
I received a complimentary copy of one of my more enjoyable reads so far this year. I give it four and a half stars.
Review of ‘Train Games’
Rhona Boroff, clad in her red vinyl coat, takes the subway to work at the literary agency, and on the train, plays a game. She identifies a likely male, gets his attention, and then invites him to meet her later that evening at a local watering hole. During the meeting, where she gives a false name, she initiates intimacy, induces the man to pleasure himself manually, and provides him with a lubricant to facilitate such manipulation. There is, however, a problem. The lubricant contains the poison thallium, which is fatal when ingested, and very, very uncomfortable when absorbed through the skin.
Unknowingly, Rhona’s therapist, in trying to pull her out of her social isolation, is enabling this activity. When the first victim shows up at the ER, and the poison is luckily diagnosed, the police are on the case. When a second victim shows up and has been poisoned under almost identical circumstances, they know they have a potential killer on their hands.
Train Games: The Girl in the Red Vinyl Coat by Claude Brickell is an interesting story. It starts off well, and builds the suspense chapter after chapter, especially after it appears that the police are closing in. The dialogue and situations all fit the mood of the story, but I feel that the author cheats a bit with the inconclusive ending—particularly after the police detective in charge of the case has actually made contact with Rhona, and is pretty sure she’s the perpetrator. Up until the last four or five paragraphs, this was a first-rate story, and while some might not find the ending jarring, I did. For that reason, I can only give this story three and a half stars, but that’s just a personal bias I have against bad guys getting away when all the evidence points at them. Had the cop not laid eyes on her, the ending would’ve been less jarring.
Despite my rating, I still recommend the book. Except for that one thing, it’s extremely well done, and worth reading. I received a complimentary copy of this book, with no request for or guarantee of a review.
Review of ‘Against Her Will’
After working late one night, Donna, an attractive young woman, is brutally raped in the subway. Psychologically traumatized, she seeks help. In therapy, she meets a male nurse who seems to be what she needs to overcome her fears, and a romance blooms. But, on their honeymoon, she discovers that he might be the person who raped her. Against Her Will by Peter Martin is a tense story of the trauma of sexual assault and the way various people react to it. An interesting story, it is in places a bit too predictable. The author did, however, do a fairly good job of keeping the suspense high.
I received a complimentary copy of this book, and I give it three stars.
Review of ‘Death in the Village’
Most small communities hide big secrets, and the village of Compton is no exception. When village gossip, Gloria Wiggins, is found hanging in her garage, DI Keith Tremayne must peel away the layers of deceit, hatred, and intrigue that has infected the village, in order to find a murderer. But, even as he investigates, more bodies start to appear, and he fears that he might have a serial killer on his hands. The reality, though, is even more bizarre.
If you want to know what that means, you’ll have to read Phillip Strang’s Death in the Village. A captivating story that I promise you, you’ll love.
I received a complimentary copy of this book.
Another great DI Tremayne thriller. I give it five stars.
Review of ‘The President is Missing’
Shortly into his first term, President Matt Blake is addressing the nation via live TV from the nuclear submarine, USS Louisiana, when the broadcast is suddenly cut off. It’s followed by an explosion and the appearance of debris in the area where it was last known to be. The nation mourns the loss of its president and one of its nuclear subs, but Dee Blake, the president’s wife, schooled by him to examine all the evidence and then not trust it, is convinced that he’s still alive and the destruction of the submarine is just a gigantic ploy. The newly sworn-in president agrees with her, and assigns her to be his chief of staff with one main duty, find the president.
The President is Missing by Russell Moran is a nail-biter from page one, as it follows two story lines: Dee’s efforts to unearth the truth behind the hijacking of the sub and the kidnapping of the president, and Matt, as he tries to come to grips with his status as a hostage of an enigmatic force made up of Russians and traitorous American naval personnel.
Who is behind this dangerous and insane operation? Is it the new Russian president, a megalomaniacal despot who wants to restore the Soviet empire, or the wannabe American dictator, the president that Matt defeated in a landslide, and who has refused to accept his status as an ex-president?
I won’t spoil the book for you by revealing the outcome, but I will say that, as you read it, you’ll wonder whether this is pure fiction, or perhaps an account of real-world plans. A riveting read.
I give it four stars.
Review of ‘Dakota Burn’
Jerked away from sunny L.A. to the bitter cold of North Dakota, Leine Basso, former assassin, and now fighting human trafficking for SHEN, joins Derek van der Haar, former poacher, now also on the hunt for those who traffic in children, in an operation to bring down a notorious child sex trafficker in one of the oil boom towns of the Dakotas. The closer they get to their prey, the more dangerous it becomes, as they learn that high-powered men all over the country are behind the heinous happenings, and they will stop at nothing to continue raking in their dirty dollars.
Dakota Burn by best-selling author D.V. Berkom is without doubt the best, and most gut-wrenching Basso thriller yet. Bodies fall along with criminal empires, as Leine and Derek face almost insurmountable odds in their quest to bring justice—of the final kind—to men who have zero respect for life.
If you’re a Leine Basso fan, as I am, you’ll love this book. A strong, determined female heroine who not only competes in a man’s world, but prevails. This penetrating look at the problem of human trafficking in the United States, where most of the population seems unaware of its existence, will open your eyes and leave you breathless in awe.
I received a complimentary copy of this latest Basso magnum opus, and once I started reading, time stopped, but I didn’t until I’d read every last thrilling word. Do yourself a favor—don’t let this one get away.
Review of ‘Shadow File’
Alex Vane’s friend was killed by private contractors working for an intelligence-corporate conglomerate. Alex exposed the killers, but the system survived, as did the man directly responsible for his friend’s murder. Now, his friend’s widow, an expert hacker, is threatening to bring down the entire government private security contractor system if they do not comply with her demands. She asks Alex to come to Cuba to help her, where he finds himself conflicted. While he knows that some in the system are corrupt, he doubts the wisdom or rightness of destroying the entire system to punish them.
Shadow File by A. C. Fuller is a compelling read that, while fictional, is all too close to how some of the private government contractors work in real life. Heart-pounding action on almost every page. A worthwhile read.
I give it four stars.
Review of ‘Cause to Kill’
Homicide Avery Black was once a promising criminal defense lawyer. When she got a client off who then went on to kill again, she was disgraced. She gave up her lucrative law career and became a police detective to try to redeem herself. Despite amassing a stellar record on the police force, she’s still not completely accepted by her colleagues. Even though they grudgingly acknowledge her brilliant mind, there is pushback when she’s included on a case involving the abduction and murder of girls from one of Boston’s prestigious universities.
In Cause to Kill by Blake Pierce Avery finally lands a case that can lead to her final redemption. But, she’s up against a killer who is every bit as smart and daring as she is. You’ll find yourself plunged into Avery’s murky world as she tries to get a step ahead of a killer who is brilliant and who always seems to be one step ahead of the law.
Despite an over-abundance of typos, this one’s a definite keeper for mystery/thriller fans.
I give it three and a half stars.
Review of ‘His First His Second’
Detective Sergeant Alicia Friend is just too perky and irreverent to be a cop. And, in the bleakness of winter in the north of Britain, Detective Inspector Donald Murphy would rather have someone a bit more serious, even though he has to admit that Alicia is a cracker jack detective. Then, the bodies of young women start appearing, and Murphy realizes that they have a serial killer on the loose. When the father of a kidnap victim begins his own investigation that threatens to interfere with what the police are doing, it’s up to Alicia and her perky personality to keep things on track. Unfortunately, the killer begins to focus on her, and that’s when the tension really mounts.
His First His Second by A. D. Davies is a chilling tale, filled with dark secrets and obscure motivations that are so intertwined you’ll need Google Maps to sort them out. Kept me interested from start to finish.
Review of ‘Invitation to Die’
When two missing women are found dead, one by a child in a popular Swan Boat in a park, the FBI Behavioral Unit calls in their favorite profiler, Tracy Wenn, to help them solve it before more women are murdered. When a third woman goes missing, Tracy feels that she’s closing in on identifying the killer, but she then becomes the next target. To add a complication to her life, her fiancé is suddenly experiencing second thoughts about her line of work.
Invitation to Die by Jaden Skye will pique your interest from the first page, keep you sniffing for clues throughout, and floor you with a surprising climax. Pulse-pounding suspense and intense emotional drama on almost every page.
I give this one four stars.
Review of ‘Disturb’
The FDA sends Dr. Bill May to fast track approval of a new drug that supposedly eliminates the need to sleep. The problem is, though, N-SOM has some hidden, and extremely dangerous side effects. One of those effects, a psychotic killer, gets May and the daughter of the drug’s inventor in his sights. Can May survive long enough to make the dangers of N-SOM public? You’ll have to read Disturb by JA Konrath to find out.
A gripping medical thriller that will keep you awake—pun intended—and cause you to forever take the TV ads from big pharma with a large shaker of salt. This one is one of the author’s best to date.
I give it four and a half stars.
Review of ‘Absolution’
Leine Basso, formerly a government assassin, has tried to distance herself from her former profession by applying her skills to aiding SHEN, an organization devoted to fighting human trafficking. But she is also obsessed with finding Salome, a freelance assassin whose skills match her own, but who prefers working on the dark side. When she gets news that Salome has resurfaced and is planning a new deadly operation, Leine once again severs ties, this time with SHEN, her daughter, April, and Santiago Jensen, the love of her life. Operating with former black ops colleagues, Leine moves from London to Los Angeles in an increasingly desperate search for the elusive Salome, both of them leaving a trail of bodies in their wakes.
Absolution by best-selling author D.V. Berkom is yet another spine-tingling thriller featuring one of the genre’s most exciting kick-ass female heroines. Page after page, the author builds the suspense to a fever pitch, as Leine realizes that Salome is manipulating her in an effort to kill her, and that she’s willing to go after those closest to Leine to achieve that goal.
This is a book you won’t be able to put down. I’ve read all of the Leine Basso series, and have to say, without hesitation or reservation, that this is the best of the best. It has everything a reader expects to find in a thriller, and more.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book, and I give it five stars. Read it, and you’ll immediately see why.
Review of ‘Frozen Statues: Perdition Games’
Seven Canadian university freshmen disappear without a trace, but when police later discover two frozen corpses, carefully posed and their eyes replaced by black stones, PI Samantha McNamara knows in her heart that this is a copycat killer restaging murders by the deadly serial killer, Incubus, a man she helped put away for life when she was a member of the police force.
Determined to prove her theory right, she takes it to the police, but is told by her old boss to stay out of it. Never good at taking orders, and convinced that she’s right, she accepts an invitation from Incubus to visit him in prison. That visit sends her on a hunt, not just to find the Frozen Statue Killer and save the lives of the remaining students, but to exorcise her own demons from the fact that one of Incubus’s last victims was her older sister, Joyce. She knows that, somehow, Incubus holds the key to the current case, and she’s determined to track it to the end.
Frozen Statues: Perdition Games by L.E. Fraser is a chilling thriller that takes the reader deep inside the tormented minds of psychopaths who kill for pleasure and the thrill of the chase. A compelling read it shows the circles within circles of mental illness, sometimes merely socially inconvenient, but often, deadly. Not an easy book to read in one sitting, not only because it is long and complicated, but also because you’ll need to get away from it from time to time to remind yourself that, after all, it’s only fiction. But, is it. Studies have shown that the number of psychopaths and sociopaths in any population is far greater than we think, and even in a ‘polite’ society like Canada, darkness lurks around every corner.
I give it five stars.