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.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

THE TUNNEL a Distrubing Crime Puzzle

The Tunnel is a ten-part crime series now seen on PBS. Back episodes are available on Comcast Infinity.

The series opens with a bizarre puzzle: a female body is found in the Channel Tunnel that runs between England and France. The body is placed exactly on the boundary line between the two nations. What's more, the body is in two pieces, taken from two different corpses. Half of the body is from a French congress member. The other half is from an English call girl.

An oddly matched team of English and French detectives is assigned to the case. The French woman, Elise Wasserman, is socially detached. The English detective, Karl Roebuck, is a sardonic cynic. They work grudgingly together at first.

Bizarre new deaths continue to occur as an anonymous killer, the Truth Teller, stages shocking murders meant to expose the ills of society and the political system. A distorted voice on the phone announces his intentions.

The Tunnel is a gripping and disturbing mystery with no sure sense of where the plot will go next. The awkward chemistry between the two main characters adds another element of uncertainty.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Stephen King Completes Suspense Trilogy with END OF WATCH

End of Watch by Stephen King is a follow-up to his prior related suspense novels, Mr. Mercedes and Finders, Keepers. Continuing characters in all three novels are retired police detective Bill Hodges, his mentally fragile assistant Holly Gibney, and sociopathic mass murderer Brady Hartsfield.

Hartsfield is now a vegetative coma patient after suffering a brain trauma injury when Hodges and Holly stopped his mass casualty bombing attempt. But Brady's mind has been secretly recovering, and in the process, has developed paranormal mental powers. He uses those powers to incite an epidemic of suicides, aided by a hypnotic game player tablet called a Zappit.

As the sudden suicide deaths mount, Bill Hodges uncovers Hartsfield's monstrous plot. Hodges and Holly race against time to shut down the malevolent Zappits before the suicide infection can spread even further.

End of Watch contains some familiar King themes: paranormal mental powers, sinister technological devices, and a team of friends coming together to fight an evil threat. The novel is notable for the characters of Bill Hodges and Holly Gibney, two of the most admirable people Stephen King has created.

The novel is overlong by at least fifty pages, as King's renown "Big Mac and Fries" style tends to overwrite too often. The author is actually at his best in shorter, tighter works such as The Night Flyer and The Mist.

That said, End of Watch is a colorful, fast-reading work that long time King fans should find satisfying.