Sunday, November 20, 2016

Corrupt Judge at Center of John Grisham's THE WHISTLER

The Whistler by John Grisham is a new legal novel that begins with the problem of a corrupt judge and leads to the uncovering of a widespread, entrenched crime syndicate.

The main character is Lacy Stolz, an investigator for the board that oversees Florida judges. When a complaint of judicial misconduct is filed against a female Circuit Court judge, Lacy and her partner, Hugo Hatch, are at first skeptical. The complaint filer is a secretive whistleblower who claims to have a mole contact close to the judge.

As Lacy digs into the case, it looks like the judge is taking payoff money connected to a casino on Indian tribal land. But the corruption spreads much wider than that, and dangerous people involved are willing to use violence to protect themselves.

A cold blooded trap is set for Lacy and Hugo with tragic consequences. The whistleblower himself suddenly disappears. As Lacy's office realizes what they are up against, they are forced to go to the FBI for help.

The Whistler is an entertaining read that is slowed sometimes by in-depth background material. The novel continues John Grisham's exploration of the darker corners of the American legal system.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

ESCAPE CLAUSE a Wild Crime Escapade From John Sandford

Escape Clause is an entertaining new crime novel by popular author John Sandford. The novel is the latest in the series that features Minnesota State Police investigator Virgil Flowers. Virgil is a laid back country boy type who would rather be fishing in his boat on some lake instead of chasing criminals. Somehow, he always seems to draw the oddball cases.

This time, two rare tigers have been stolen by someone from the Minnesota Zoo and Virgil is put on the case to recover the animals. Tiger parts are prized in the Chinese drug market for their alleged curative powers. The illegal tiger extracts could be worth over a million dollars. It's feared that the animals will be quickly killed and their valuable parts harvested to be smuggled to China.

Virgil Flowers is racing the clock to track down the tiger thieves. But the trail soon leads to a crazy shootout, the arrival of a family of Armenian thugs, and then murdered bodies start to pile up. The tiger hunt continues to take new twists as Virgil chases leads all over the state.

Escape Clause is a fast reading crime ride seasoned with deadpan dialog humor. This is another wild escapade in the series of crime novels that John Sanford seems to turn out effortlessly.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Our Kind of Traitor (new on DVD) is a gripping drama about the clash between honorable values and political corruption within the murky world of government spy agencies. The movie is based on a novel by John LeCarre.

British couple Perry and Gail are on vacation when they meet Dima, a flamboyant character, and a money launderer for a Russian crime syndicate. But Dima's gang is now controlled by a ruthless new boss who is eliminating the old guard and Dima fears he and his family will soon be assassinated. He wants to defect to Britain for safety, and he uses Perry as intermediary to help him do so.

Perry makes contact with British agent Hector from MI-6. Dima has information about high British officials who are in the pay of the Russian syndicate. Dima will provide those names in exchange for political asylum. Hector agrees, but he has his own agenda of revenge against a particular government official that he wants to satisfy at the same time.

The movie follows a tense operation in Switzerland as Perry and Hector's team try to get Dima and his family to safety, leading up to violent fight with the Russian gangsters at a safe house in the Swiss Alps.

Our Kind of Traitor is a chilling story of lies and betrayal, in which a Russian defector is a more honorable traitor than the politically corrupt traitors high up inside the British government itself.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Caleb Carr is back with SURRENDER, NEW YORK

Surrender, New York is a new crime novel by Caleb Carr. His earlier bestselling novel, The Alienist, dealt with the first use of psychological profiling to solve crimes in 1900 New York City.

Carr's new novel is set in the upstate New York town of Surrender, where a series of grotesque deaths of local teenagers has occurred. The novel's main character is Dr. Trajan Jones, a criminal profiler, who works with Dr. Mike Li, a trace evidence expert.

The teenage victims were all part of a class called "throwaway children," who were abandoned by or kicked out of their original families. Jones and Li believe some unknown predators are targeting these rootless kids. But their theory puts them in conflict with authorities who may be covering up a disturbing conspiracy.

The author uses the novel to advance his criticism that crime investigation now relies too much on CSI-type physical evidence that points in only one direction. Trajan Jones argues that profiling the entire psychological context of the crime is better able to consider all potential motives and suspects.

 Surrender, New York is a densely written, overly long novel which could be shorter by two hundred pages and suffers from some weak plot elements. Recommended only for dedicated Caleb Carr fans.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 an Eerie Mystery

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware is an eerie psychological mystery set within the claustrophobic confines of a huge luxury yacht.

Lo Blacklock is a travel journalist assigned to cover the week long cruise of the Aurora on the North Sea. The handful of passengers are a mix of wealthy or celebrity guests invited on the luxurious cruise. But it all changes when Lo thinks she sees a woman thrown overboard one night.

Lo's report of what she saw is not believed. No one from the passengers or crew is missing. Lo herself has had problems with drinking and use of anti-depressants. She suffers from sudden panic attacks. Is the lost woman all in Lo's head, or is there a cover-up going on of a real murder aboard the boat?

The Woman in Cabin 10 starts slowly, but builds in intensity as a paranoid Lo suspects everyone around her, until a startling plot twist changes everything that went before. The novel is the kind of story that fans of seemingly insoluble mystery situations will enjoy.


Don't ever go into that room.

Now available in Paperback and eBook at Amazon.

Friday, August 12, 2016

IN A DARK, DARK WOOD a Sinister Memory Puzzle

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware is a sinister psychological mystery whose answer depends on the confused, damaged memories of one character.

The story is set in the woods of northern England, where a group of six gather for a bachelorette party in an isolated country house. Nora Shaw is the main character, an introverted woman who doesn't want to be there with people she hasn't seen in years. The party is for her once best friend Clare Cavendish, but the two have lost touch until now.

Once the group gathers at the house in the spooky woods, tensions rise as old secrets and resentments begin to emerge. Then a truly horrific incident occurs suddenly and someone is dead. But was it only a grotesque accident, or is something more diabolical at work?

Nora Shaw herself can't remember what happened. She suffered a head injury in a car accident as she fled the house. Now the police have questions she can't answer.

The truth emerges in disjointed puzzle pieces from Nora's damaged memory. But is it a truth she even wants to fully remember? In a Dark, Dark Wood is a compelling read that saves its answers until the wrenching final twist.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

THE HIGHWAYMAN a Walt Longmire Ghost Story

The Highwayman by Craig Johnson is a new entry in the popular crime series that features Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire. But this short novel is a departure for Longmire as he investigates a legendary Western ghost story.

The spooky setting for the tale is the night fogs of the rugged Wind River Canyon region. Mysterious police radio calls are coming in, seemingly from state trooper Bobby Womack. But Womack himself died in a fiery crash in the canyon decades earlier. Trooper Rosie Wayman swears she heard the radio calls in her patrol car, and she comes to her friend Longmire for help. Walt gets involved in the mystery and finds more than he bargained for.

The Highwayman is the author's updating of the classic Charles Dickens tale "The Signal-Man." The novella is a quick, fun read both for fans of Walt Longmire and readers who enjoy a good, eerie ghost story.


She's called The Rep and she's not human.

Now at Kindle, Nook, and iBook.