Book Review: Ring Of Lies by Roni Dunevich

The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar. 51amoKWTjVL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

Ring Of Lies by Roni Dunevich is a thriller whose main character is Mossad agent Alex Bartal. This is actually the third book in the series although here in the US it is the debut novel.

The plot has Bartal investigating the killings of Israeli assets, each with a name of a European city. He finds that a sleeper cell, known as the Nibelungs, has been compromised. Convinced that there is a traitor within the Mossad, Bartal must race to identify and eliminate the double agent. Having to travel to Berlin Germany he finds he is possibly chasing ghosts, including those of his past. These scenes of Bartal’s past as a second generation Holocaust survivor are very powerful.

Dunevich noted to, “Some of it was personal. Bartal’s story is my story. We are both the children of Holocaust survivors. My mother has fears, PTSD, and memories that haunt her. The book was a release for both my mother and myself. I wanted to do extensive research so I stayed in Berlin for two months. I experienced some who were Anti-Semitic while others were very caring. I could connect the two stories because the Israeli Mossad was established to prevent a second Holocaust. It is part of the organizations’ DNA. I put in this quote to express Alex and my feelings, “He had no intention of foregoing or forgetting. As far as he was concerned they would wear their ancestors’ shame on their foreheads for the rest of their life.”

Ring Of Lies is a thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Beyond the riveting plot is the backstory of Alex and how his parents’ Holocaust experiences have affected his life.

Ring Of Lies is a thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Beyond the riveting plot is the backstory of Alex and how his parents’ Holocaust experiences have affected his life.

BOOK REVIEW: Downfall by J. A. Jance

The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Downfall by J.A. Jance is a riveting mystery that also tackles moral issues. She is one of those special authors who never disappoints. While bringing to the forefront some controversial and disturbing issues Jance also has the reader trying to solve the crime of how two women fell to their death.

The plot begins with a puzzling case for Sherriff Joanna Brady when two women have fallen or were pushed to their deaths at a mountaintop called Geronimo. She must figure out if it is a double suicide, a murder/suicide, or a double homicide. During the investigation Brady and her department find clues of sordid secrets and evil lies. One of the victims is a high school teacher that had affairs with her students, basically committing statutory rape. Sent to help with the investigation is FBI Agent Robin Watkins. This new character is refreshing and will hopefully be recurring. She and Joanna have a similar personality and common ground with their personal problems. Beyond that they make a great team as they pursue all the clues to what really happened to those women who fell.

In this book the setting plays such an important role that it is almost like a secondary character. Jance remembers when “I climbed Geronimo I was eleven. This was my only time. I did it on my hands and knees going up and coming down on my butt. I put in the story how every child felt, including myself, who climbed it. It is a right of passage between childhood and adolescence. Of course no one tells their parents their intentions until they are safely back down. When I climbed it I remember seeing these ‘cactuses.’ I incorporated them into the story as well. With the help of people from the University of Arizona I established what they were, which is why I dedicated this book to those experts. If it is one of my books you can count on the fact that I have been there and done that.”

Beyond the mystery is the exploration of the personal life of the main character, Joanna Brady. She faces many obstacles in this book including running for re-election, having to deal with the recent killing of her mother and stepdad, her daughter going off to college, and being five months pregnant. Sometimes when an author puts in many insights into the character’s personal life, it takes away from the plot. This is definitely not the case. By highlighting Joanna’s personal life as a mother, wife, and grieving daughter the story is enhanced. Beyond that she must also deal with the intense sibling rivalry she feels about her stepbrother who came into her life as an adult. These events present challenges that almost anyone can relate to. A quote from the book highlights how women feel about balancing their professional and personal lives, “The disappointment registered on Denny’s (Joanna’s young son) face represented every working mother’s all too familiar tug of war.”

An interesting side issue was how Jance had the female characters reacting to their mother-daughter relationship. Jance noted to, “A lot of us have issues with our mothers; I know I did. I remember after getting my college degree looking down on my mother with her sixth grade education and just being a housewife. This was terribly arrogant of me. Once I had children my mother began getting smarter. What I have written is not exactly my mothers and my relationship, but it is certainly related.”

She is hoping that readers of the series will see Chief Deputy Tom Hadlock coming into his own. “Since he was appointed to the position some books ago, he has been struggling in handling certain aspects of the job. But in this book it was really terrific to see how he handled this crisis and to be at some point solely in charge of the Sheriff’s department. He validated Joanna’s faith in him.”

Downfall takes readers on a journey that uncovers a possible kidnapping, hypocrisies, a pedophile, and abuse. The crime story is explosive and riveting. Readers will be shocked with the many twists and turns as they quickly flip the pages. As Jance ends the book, giving a shout out to Dale Evans, Roy Rogers, and their trusty animals, readers should also feel a sense of Happy Trails with this story. 51qrlbd3KfL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_



The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman uses a real-life story of an abandoned apartment as her inspiration. Within a historical fiction story readers will learn about the Paris setting as well as the time frame from the 1880s through the period just before World War II.

A few years ago an apartment was discovered to have been abandoned for nearly seventy years. Among the treasures inside was a portrait of Marthe by Giovanni Boldini, a famous painter of the 19th century. Because the facts about these two women are sparse, Richman wrote an imagined tale of Marthe de Florian, a courtesan during the Belle Epoque era, and her granddaughter, Solange. As with her previous novels she develops a story, able to apply a mystery to the character’s lives.

Because Marthe is obsessed with beauty, Richman used velvet, “It is one of the materials that has shadow and light, going from smooth to rough. The metaphor is her illuminating her life as she tells her story to her granddaughter. This is why I put in the quote by Solange about her time spent with her grandmother, “Those hours were like velvet to me. Stories spun of silken thread, her own light and darkness, unabashedly drawn.”

Richman also answered the question of why the Germans never appropriated the apartment and why they did not steal the valuable objects? “I talked to a Jewish expert who believes the concierge must have had a hand in hiding the unoccupied apartment. This is why I gave them a role in the story. I wanted to include how the characters reacted to the events just before World War II.”

With alternating time periods the story tells of two bold and somewhat independent women facing their pasts in the midst of an uncertain future. Marthe de Florian began her life in poverty, watching her mother scrub other people’s laundry, while loosing her youth and beauty. Determined to be surrounded by beauty Marthe uses her aesthetic looks to capture the attention of a wealthy patron, Charles. He sets her up as his mistress, a kept woman, in an apartment where she developed her natural taste and love for splendor. Charles not only encouraged her, but also provided her with the means to survive and sustain herself. There were men after Charles, but none who truly captured her heart as he had. Now, in the 1930s, with Europe on the brink of war and the Holocaust looming in the background, she shares her story with her granddaughter Solange Beaugiron, using her prized possessions to reveal her innermost secrets.

Marthe is based on Richman’s grandmother, whom she dedicated this book to. “When my mother saw the dedication she commented, ‘This way she lives on forever.’ My grandmother was one of the most elegant people I knew. She was a feminine person who took pleasure in surrounding herself with beauty. I realized there are pockets of people’s lives we have no idea about. I started thinking how 99% of the people vanish upon death. Our memories are kept alive through the possessions and the stories told from generation to generation.”

The author’s focus on detail with her descriptive words makes the scenes stand out. The setting, the artifacts, and the characters are vividly depicted throughout the story. Moreover, her ability to use symbolism throughout makes the plot even more interesting and is an intricate part of the theme.

One object that has symbolic significance is the ancient Haggadah passed down from her grandfather. Richman noted to, ““I included an Haggadah, which represents the story of Passover, and the Jews exodus out of Egypt. I compare that to the threat for Solange and her future Fiancé. They used it to help them escape the looming Nazi occupation as they traveled to America.”

The Velvet Hours places the characters and objects into a fact filled story. Richman has created a rich Paris setting with memorable characters within a time period beginning in 1888 and ending in 1938. 51nW7ZMVMzL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_

BOLO & Be Careful Out There!

UPDATE:  Arrested after shootout.  That said, be careful! 



Updated with additional photos.  

Not going to get into the idiocy of DeMoroniso and others, just be aware.  While he may still be in the NY/NJ area, there's no real guarantee of that.  Meantime, be alert.  If you see something that is off, even if you aren't quite sure what, get out and report.  That applies everywhere -- and keep in mind that the knife jihadi was in a security guard uniform -- and you really don't want to know how many police and other uniforms are missing across the country.  Even if this guy is caught, this is far from over.  Be careful out there.  


The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson combines a mystery within a western setting. Readers get an understanding of the Cheyenne nation, the Wyoming setting, and how a small town Sheriff keeps his town safe. Sheriff Walt Longmire will remind readers of Matt Dillon with his quiet demeanor, Jesse Stone, with his determination to seek justice, and Harry Bosch with his need to be a detective for the disenfranchised.

He considers himself a “Cowboy Author who writes mysterious westerns. I live westerns. I built my ranch completely on my own in Northern Wyoming. After I was done I sat down and started to write. The western environment has a tremendous affect on my life, which is evident in the books. In my family I had a grandfather who was a blacksmith so I have been around horses all my life.”

This novel allows readers to jump on the motorcycle with the characters as they go on a wild ride in Hulett County Wyoming having to face biker gangs, neo-Nazis, gunrunners, a mega millionaire, and undercover ATF agents. Henry Standing Bear, nicknamed The Cheyenne Nation, returns to the Sturgis Rally in an attempt to win a motorcycle race. He, Sheriff Longmire, and Dog, drive a ’59 Thunderbird, Lola, towing the motorcycle. The actual namesake of Henry’s car, Lola Wojciechowski, wants them to find out what happened to her son whose motorcycle was driven off the road and now lies unconscious in a hospital. Through the investigation that includes Longmire’s deputy Victoria (Vic) Moretti they find that the crash was no accident. ATF is looking at the victim as a drug or gunrunner. It becomes obvious that Walt and Company are needed to sort out all the facts and find the perpetrators.

Johnson commented to, “In the contemporary American West the new horse is the motorcycle. We have the largest motorcycle rally in the world in the little town of Sturgis. When I was a child I started racing motorcycles and have had motorcycles my whole life. I had all these small, independent book stores that wanted me to come and do events at their stores so I began doing the Great Northwest Outlaw Motorcycle Tour on my own that takes in Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon, and Utah.”

Readers will not only enjoy the Western flavor of this novel, but Johnson’s way of adding one-liners. This humorous and sarcastic dialogue will allow for some chuckles. The banter between the characters, as they rib one another, plays off well and adds to the storyline. Not to mention the way the author sets up Vic with her ability to drive and skeet shoot with the best of the male folk.

Anyone who enjoys these novels should tune in to Netflix to watch the series. The fifth season will start September 23rd. The characters are portrayed brilliantly by the cast, from Robert Taylor as Walt to Katee Sackhoff as Vic. But the person who steals the show is Lou Diamond Phillips who has 100% nailed down the essence of Henry Standing Bear, including his speech patterns.

Having Phillips portray Henry has added to the flavor of the show. Johnson believes he has done “a fantastic interpretation. Before he auditioned he actually read three of the books. He does a great job of that B movie speech where he never uses contractions. He speaks that way because Henry is very precise in what he does so his speech patterns are accordingly. Sometimes he uses that type of language to piss off white people who are arrogant.”

Whether reading the books or watching the TV series readers/viewers will have plenty of action, humor, and twists. The character Henry, who at the end of the book, uttered a Sherlock Holmes line, can summarize this novel best, “There is nothing more deceptive than An Obvious Fact.” 51-OKyhxupL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

Debt To Pay by Reed Colemen

The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Robert. B. Parker’s Debt To Pay by Reed Farrel Coleman ingeniously creates a cat and mouse story. In bringing back the serial killer, assassin, and terrorist Mr. Peepers the plot reveals more of Police Chief Jesse Stone’s personality, as he must chase down his nemesis while saving those he loves.

Two books ago, The Devil Wins, Jesse struggled to capture Mr. Peepers who eventually escaped. Now, after a major crime boss is murdered, Jesse suspects it’s the work of Mr. Peepers, a psychotic assassin who has threatened to avenge Jesse’s broken promise by targeting those close to the Chief. Figuring that the allusive sadistic serial killer will strike at his ex-wife Jenn’s wedding Jesse and Diana agree to travel to Dallas to be a part of the wedding, and to hopefully stop Peepers. Jesse and Diana, the former FBI agent who has turned private security consultant, hope to put closure to his relationship with his ex-wife as they also covertly try to protect her from the psychological and physical torture of Peepers. As he tries to find Peepers Jesse wonders is the killer going after Jenn, Diana, deputy Molly, or deputy Suitcase Simpson?

Coleman described to, Mr. Peepers as “a sadist, control freak, part serial killer, and part hit man, but also a little human because he has great affection for Jenn. I think he is creepy like Hannibal Lechter. They are both bright, very controlling, one step ahead of most people, condescending, a feeling of superiority, and has affection for a particular person. I think anyone who writes a mystery with a serial killer has some influence of the Hannibal character. I think I was influenced unconsciously, but not consciously.”

What is intriguing is how Coleman shows the differences in personality between Diana and Jen. Diana seems to appear to be more of Jesse’s soul mate who is very independent, smart, good at her job, and comfortable in her own skin. Compared to Jenn who is manipulative, wussy, dependent, and clingy. Both women have Jesse’s devotion, but with Diana he feels he has found an equal.

The author hopes to show “Diana is more self fulfilled and does not need anyone to complete her. Could you imagine Jenn jumping out of a car and chasing a mugger as Diana did in this book? Jenn would have told Jesse to do it. One of the things fans of the series have asked me is to kill Jenn off. I found their relationship as annoying as the fans. I hope in this book I rehabilitated her. Jesse is a guy who needed to fix things and Jenn needed the help in getting things fixed. Jesse knew she was manipulative, but with Jenn’s new husband she does not seem so whiny or needy.”

The underlying theme has something readers can relate to: be careful how you react to people because that can have dire consequences. How many times has someone been offended by a person’s actions whether being cussed out, cut-off by a car, or someone just being downright uncaring.

Having people think before they react is important to Coleman. “We encounter that in our everyday life. Readers did not want the rude person in the story to be tortured. Yet, we have all thought someone rude and wish they would get their due. Someone who says, ‘F--- You’ even though they did the rude act. Its crazy. I want people to think that they should not be rude to someone else because you never know if that person will take out a gun and shoot you.”

Debt To Pay does not have a dull scene. It is action-packed, tension filled, and riveting. Because Coleman has such well-developed characters people will find Peepers creepy, Jesse as the knight in shining armor, Jenn as the damsel in distress, and Diana as the self assured partner to Jesse both personally and professionally. 518qCWpg4YL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Book Review Danger Close by Amber Smith

The following review/Q and A is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Danger Close by FOX News Consultant Amber Smith takes readers into battle worn Iraq and Afghanistan. People will learn about the world of an Army Kiowa Helicopter pilot who engaged in high intensity warfare. One of only a few women to fly this helicopter her missions were armed reconnaissance, and support for those fighting on the ground.

People might question why she appeared to sidestep addressing military gender politics. But in actuality, through some of her examples, she did bring up the gender issue. What she did not do is hit readers over the head, instead allowing them to form their own opinions and impressions. Her view, there needs to be a mission standard and not a gender standard, comes through loud and clear. Through her own exemplary actions she showed that it should not matter if someone is male or female, showing that her sex did not matter in her performance of the job and contribution to the mission. She noted to, “I chose to never make being a woman as an excuse. I felt I was a good pilot who had the attitude to my male peers, ‘get over yourselves. I am here whether you like it or not.’ I consider being a Kiowa pilot an amazing part of my life including having the brotherhood and sisterhood.”

Interestingly there were three examples that readers can interpret about the possibility of some form of sexism involved. The first was with a peer who actually threatened to hit her. She took it in stride and never backed down. But can this be interpreted that she was actually accepted as an equal since he was not afraid to “hit a woman.”

The other two incidents probably do have sexism play a role. She was grounded and not put on a flight schedule because her superiors did not think she “could handle it,” even though other newbies were flying. She eventually received orders to fly after the Iraqis voted on the referendum, the day Iraqis voted on their Constitution. The other incident involved an accident where her helicopter was hit while on the ground, after landing. Again she was grounded while the male pilot who had committed the accident was already back up and flying. Eventually, she was cleared to go after some senior warrants in her unit had defended her.

She commented, “I should have never been put through it. I did not put this in the book, but one of those who ruled on the accident was the person who later did a check flight with me. He felt guilty and maybe he realized he was wrong about putting me through the mud, something that should never have been done. As I say in the book, ‘The false accusation and witch hunt had changed me. I no longer trusted that my unit leadership would have my back if something bad happened that was out of my control…whether they will become an internal target for doing their job.’”

But more than anything readers will understand the untold story of the Kiowa warrior and the importance to those fighting on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan. This job can be compared to a western. The pilots called themselves the “air cavalry,” where they scouted the enemy, the horses were the helicopters, and the Stetson cowboy hats were their helmets.

Two incidents potently drove the point home of their duties of reconnaissance and protection. Her co-pilot, on a mission, had him questioning whether to take off and fly in support of a ground unit. She considered it “lazy and extremely selfish. It is just not what you do to say ‘someone else should pick it up.’ It is so far out of the norm for the rest of the Kiowa pilots and how we operated.”

The other mission had the command refusing to give clearance even though no friendlies were present. Although low on fuel she and her co-pilot wanted to engage the enemy who was burying a mortar shell for an IED. Because of the command’s indecisiveness they almost crashed with a low fuel count, and the enemy escaped with a weapon that could have cost lives as they were allowed to fight another day. She noted, “The route was IED alley. Bad guys should have been taken out. It was a bad decision, the inaction. Afterward everyone received a re-education.”

Danger Close is a war story that is about a brave pilot who happened to be female. The reader is taken into the cockpit as she explores the vivid and harrowing world of a combat helicopter pilot. 51nXRIa622L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_


The following review/Q and A is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Way Of The Reaper by Nicholas Irving is presented in a similar fashion to the old TV Combat series. Readers can experience the dangers of the mission that snipers must face, seeing the war through a sniper’s scope. They are also being placed in the heart of the battle. The book confirms the US military values of honor, courage, loyalty, and commitment.

Nicholas Irving spent six years in the Army's Special Operations 3rd Ranger Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment, serving from demolitions assaulter to Master Sniper. He was the first African American to serve as a sniper in his battalion. He set a record for enemy kills on a single mission, killing 33 over a four-month period. This book is the sequel to the New York Times bestseller, The Reaper, where he recounts his ten greatest sniper kill missions. Readers will get an insight into the art of being a sniper: the necessity of support from the intelligence reports to his own reconnaissance, and the skills needed of determining trajectory, wind, and distance.

He noted to, “We use the same skills as an athlete, observing closely and making educated guesses. A baseball hitter must guess the pitch location and type. A chess player must be three moves ahead to anticipate their opponent’s moves. We block out the senses and focus like athletes block out the crowd.”

As with American Sniper’s Chris Kyle, Irving makes no apologies for taking the life of someone who is threatening his fellow soldiers, and agrees with Kyle that he sees himself as a guardian angel sent to protect his teammates. He told, “I actually refer to myself as ‘the mother hen.’ I was given the nickname of the Reaper because I batted 1000 in hitting my targets. My peers saw me as ‘the Angel of Death.’ The motto that snipers live by is ‘without warning; without remorse.’ We are hidden and there is no warning when we will fire and I do not feel bad about it. For me, I never worried if the bad guys are wearing a protective vest because of the high caliber rounds. If they have a vest my attitude was, ‘there is no such thing as a bulletproof facemask.’”

He also explains in the book how those fighting are disgusted with political correctness. Speaking about someone in his unit who was wounded, Irving observed “how we treated their wounded (The Taliban) and how they would most likely let us suffer and then die a horribly painful death.” It should make Americans wonder if the rules of engagement are one-sided, putting the enemy ahead of our own military personnel.

This book has interesting and gritty stories about his time as a direct action sniper. Readers get to feel they are part of the battles as if they were Irving’s spotter. 51oxJPFLnQL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_


The following review/Q and A is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Sorrow Road by Julia Keller is an excellent title for this story. Most of the characters have some dysfunctional issue going on in their lives, whether overcoming PTSD, having to handle a parent with Alzheimer’s, or abuse within a family. Keller brilliantly explores these issues within a riveting mystery, tying up loose ends as the story concludes.

This series started when Bell Elkins abandoned her husband and high stress job in Washington DC to become the prosecutor of a made up town in Ackers Gap, Raythune County, West Virginia. In this installment, one of her high school classmates, Darlene, returns to her home town, to ask Bell to look into her father’s suspicious death at an old age home. After a worker at Thornapple Terrace Senior Citizen Home is murdered along with her best friend, Bell suspects another connection. Her investigation unravels a relationship and secrets kept between Darlene’s father and his two childhood friends. Readers will enjoy this story about ‘three boys’ who fought in World War II to the present day where their children are facing parents with Alzheimer’s.

Keller believes “the three boys” are a reflection “of the boys and girls from small towns in our heartland that fought and won America’s wars. They sacrificed the rich part of their lives for our country. The photo I used in the book was from my mother’s husband who fought in World War II. He told the story of how he and his friends were on a battleship in Normandy, but the day after the battle. I found it fascinating they were there, but the day following the big event.”

Having been born and bred in West Virginia, Keller is able to write potent scenes about this state that are intertwined within the plot. West Virginia looms larger than life as the author describes the economic hardships of the residents, the roads, weather, and history, balancing the physical beauty with the many problems.

As with everyday life the characters in this story have their past affecting how they deal with the present. Bell, abused as a child, has these past memories haunting her, sometimes putting her relationship with a younger man into disarray. Carla realizes she can no longer suppress the hideous memories of her good friend being killed as well as her being kidnapped. The retired Sherriff, Nick Fogelsony, is attempting to recover from a gunshot wound and his wife’s emotional handicap. Darlene has become an alcoholic to withdraw from who she has become. Finally, a daughter is trying to come to grips with the ravages of Alzheimer’s that have left her father’s memory clear of the abuses he inflicted on his children.

The Alzheimer’s theme is important to her because “I have been obsessed with memory. Someone once told me this quote, ‘Memories are the bones of thought.’ There are just so many variables about it we do not understand. I am one of those people who believe the past lives within us and we never leave it behind. I wanted to explore what happens when a person has lost their memory; can they be blamed for whatever grievance was inflicted by them? We have older people in the world to teach us patience. Making sure they are cared for takes the spotlight away from us. Anyone with an older parent understands how it is a whole different way of looking at the world. Alzheimer’s is such a national part of our landscape and is a national issue on how we will take care of people inflicted with it.”

There are two powerful quotes that reflect on the parent-child relationship. “Just as she had done when Carla was an infant…She was able to keep her daughter safe, even for just a few hushed hours, deep in a winter’s night.” AND “The guilt that burned and surged and twisted inside you because you so futilely wished you’d done more for your loved one…wished you stopped in more often and paid better attention when you did, wished you hugged him just once more during that last visit, and told him just one more time that you loved him.”

The first quote was based on how “my sister and her daughter react toward one another. The mother never goes out of you. They never lose that feeling of keeping a child safe even when they are grown and out of your control. This is one of my favorite scenes. Beth was holding her daughter Carla and at that moment she is safe in her mom’s arms.” While the second quote came from “my anticipatory guilt of my mom dying. I can’t leave my mom’s visits early because I don’t want to look back and regret something. Although, I do think most people will look back with some kind of regret or guilt.”

Sorrow Road has the themes of good versus evil, revenge verses forgiveness, and love versus murder. In this tale of memory and family the story is relatable and believable, and the West Virginia setting fits perfectly into this mystery. 51FRluuA+HL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

Book Review When The Musics Over

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

  51jRJoyyUpL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_When The Music’s Over by Peter Robinson is an intense mystery. It does not sugar coat and will not be construed as politically correct. The story is inspired by newspaper accounts of true-life incidents concerning abuse of women. It resonates today especially for people who can remember Germany when so many women were sexually harassed during the 2016 New Year’s Eve celebration by men of Arab or North African heritage, as well as the abuse of women by celebrity men. Tackling this problem within a gripping plot, Robinson will enlighten readers.  

In the beginning of the novel fans will learn that Banks is now a Detective Superintendent. The reason Banks received a promotion by Robinson, “I did some research and found out if I did not promote him to Superintendent he would have to retire soon. But with the promotion he can work until he is 65. This way I could lengthen his career. I know that the pecking order of police titles can get a bit complicated whether Constable, Sergeant, Inspector, Chief Inspector, Superintendent, and so on.”

Now, a high ranking official, newly promoted Detective Superintendent Alan Banks and his unit are assigned to investigate crimes of older males who target minor females. The perpetrators “groom” these girls by first providing attention and gifts, getting victims emotionally and psychologically under their spell, followed by the violence. Banks and company become a stalwart for justice as they attempt to find those guilty of such vicious acts.

The first crime has respected poet, Linda Palmer, coming forward with an allegation of sexual abuse against a former matinee idol celebrity. This cold case took place fifty years ago when Linda was a starry-eyed teenager, on a vacation with family and friends. The storyline deals with issues of sexual assault, the devastating effects on the victim, the willful ignorance of the high officials, and the difficulties of prosecuting, since such a long period of time has elapsed.

Linda Palmer has similar characteristics to Emily Winslow, who wrote the personal memoir, Jane Doe January, about her being raped. Both did not conform to the stereotypic view of a victim. Banks thinks how Linda is “no damaged witness…Might that make her story seem less credible to a judge or jury. Would people demand more wailing and gnashing of teeth?” But anyone who thinks this attitude can only exist in a novel should compare it to what Winslow noted, “I tried to understand and accept that the jury could only like me if I conformed to some very narrow range of emotion. I could not be angry. When on the stand I would have to show emotions of vulnerability and hurt; yet, hold back on other emotions. I wondered how do you let sadness show but keep anger in, and be vulnerable but keep my dignity.”

Robinson commented to, “I did not want Linda to be a typical victim whose life was ruined. She is not just a survivor, but also someone who achieved something despite what she went through. Although a fighter she is hermit-like, living alone in an isolated area.”

The second plot has Detective Inspector Annie Banks and Detective Constable Geraldine Masterson investigating the murder of a teenage girl found naked on a roadside. She was drugged, appeared thrown out of a van, and beaten to death. Robinson artfully writes about the attitude by some sections of society who believe that women are available to be used and abused, debased, traded and treated like commodities, many from the Pakistani culture.

He doesn’t shy away from provocative statements, showing how some are accused of racism if they point out that some Muslims do not have an “enlightened attitude towards women…they weren’t caught before because everyone - including us (the police) – turned a blind eye because we were scared of upsetting the Muslim community.”

These gripping stories show how young girls are neglected by society. Both crimes reflect current issues showing how some feel they can do anything and get away with it because of they see themselves in a position of power.

Robinson said, “I put these two stories together because they have the same theme. It is abuse of young women by men who are aided in different ways by other men. Officials do nothing because they are either in power and choose to look the other way or are afraid of being called a racist. It seems the immigration community is never investigated, nor are celebrities who get away with it if they have friends in high places. I hope readers are put in a quandary and think a bit: if someone commits a crime it should not matter their origin, power, or status. But unfortunately it does.”

As with all his books he has some scenes with music. Robinson wants people to understand, “I enjoy writing them into the plot, and I will not stop putting in the music scenes. Banks has been a music fan from the start. I will mix up the genres and have given him a broad taste. Basically what he listens to is music I am enjoying at the time I am writing a particular book, a bit of rock and roll, jazz, and classical.”

Readers will be wrapped up in this novel. Besides being a riveting mystery it deals with explosive issues. It is a well-written police procedural that will engage the reader.

Book Review The Shattered Tree

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd reunites nurse Bess Crawford with Captain Barkley, an old acquaintance from a previous book. As with all their books the riveting mystery is combined with facts surrounding World War I. It is almost as if the Great War has become a secondary character within the plots. Readers will enjoy learning and comparing what happened during the World War to the modern warfare of today.

In this story Bess does not have the support groups of the past: Her parents, her landlady, and for the most part Simon only make a cameo appearance. Not only must she work with different characters but she is also placed in a different environment, Paris France. Having to find a new support group she befriends a Nun, a fellow nurse in Rouen France, a Major recuperating in the same hospital, and the Captain, an American fighting with the Canadians who is in France searching for deserters. What makes their interaction enjoyable is that she uses these people for support while questioning their trustworthiness and motives.

The plot begins with Bess treating a wounded officer. He is not British, but is considered French until in a moment of anger shouts at her in German. Her superior, Matron, suggests that the soldier must be from Alsace-Lorraine, a province in the west where the tenuous border between France and Germany has continually shifted through history, and now is in German hands. Bess is unsure of his loyalties and wonders if he could be a spy. Unable to do anything because he has been sent back to Paris she leaves her suspicions simmer. That is until she is wounded by a sniper and finds herself recuperating in Paris. It is here she decides to investigate and uncover the truth about his loyalties.

The Todds commented to, “Nurses at the front were in danger because snipers see a target and just shoot. For years after World War I it was bad luck to light three cigarettes off the same match. If someone was in the trenches, the Germans would watch the first one flare, the second one flare, and then would be ready to shoot when the third one flared.”

Always interesting is how the authors incorporate the time period into their story. People today forget how the civilian populations during World War I became a part of the war effort including having to make sacrifices. They had to deal with shortages of eggs, flour, butter, and gas. These rations also affected the way coffee was made, so many chose wine instead. A quote from the book hammers the point home, “Instead of a clear-cut victory, I thought we were all going to be starved into submission.”

What is always captivating is for readers to compare and contrast the war attitudes then and today. Although it’s the 100th anniversary of World War I the outlook of those fighting have not changed, finding camaraderie with their fellow soldiers. A powerful quote, “They had struggled to rescue the wounded who had fallen out of reach in No Man’s Land…And still they wanted to go back. They could not betray the men who were still out there, dying in their place. It wasn’t courage or heroism, it was a strong sense of duty to men they were closer to than brothers or parents or wives. A comradeship of shared fear and blood and determination.” The Todds wrote this quote to explain, “We wanted to point out what they were going through. They could understand each other because of the common ground.”

511eFvXfDZL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The Shattered Tree is a very plot driven story. The characters enhanced the story but were more like tools for getting across the horrific nature of war. Through the gripping mystery readers will understand how loyalties were questioned, and the hardships faced by those having to endure World War I.

Review Crowned and Dangerous

The following review/Q and A is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Crowned and Dangerous by Rhys Bowen opens with Lady Georgiana Rannoch and the Honorable Darcy O’ Mara trying to elope in Scotland even though she is thirty-fifth in line for the British crown and he is Catholic. En route he learns that his father is accused of killing a wealthy American who bought the O’Mara estate. To save Georgie from scandal, Darcy ends his engagement to her and returns home to County Kildare, Ireland. Because Georgie and Darcy do have access to the crime scene readers are able to take a believable journey with them as they try to figure out “who done it.”

Bowen noted to, “I thought of writing a series with the most unlikely heroine, a royal who was penniless. I wanted the recurring theme to be how would she support herself and survive? Remember, servants had done everything for them. Since only the sons, mostly the first-born, received the inheritance what happened to girls like my main character Georgie. She was expected to marry someone of the same class so marriage became a business transaction. They all are trying to live the life they knew, but it is getting more difficult. Everything fell apart after World War II because no one could afford the up keep and the taxes.”

Intertwined within the mystery are fascinating historical facts about the era. Bowen wanted to show readers how, “In England if you want to marry you have to wait three weeks and must announce it in the Church. Since Greta Green in Scotland is on the border many couples went there to marry. There was also the problem of Georgie being in line for the British Crown and Darcy is Catholic. Since the 1700s if someone was in the line of succession they cannot marry a Catholic. This law existed until it was repealed last year.”

She also tried to show how, “People were more proper back then and did not cuss like today. Using the word ‘Golly’ was a very normal girlish way of expression, much like the ‘valley girl’ vocabulary of today. Back then women could not swear. ‘Golly’ was a way to get around saying the word G-d. It was an expression used instead of ‘Oh My G-d.’”

Anyone wanting a fun story with well-developed characters should read this novel. Geogrie is a delightful character who is intelligent, determined, and admirable although a bit clumsy. With this series no one has to read the previous books to understand what went on within the story. 51BaG1poJLL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

Clinton Cash Now in A Graphic Novel

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Superwoman. Actually, it’s super corrupt Hillary Clinton and her responses are like the Joker. Taking an already powerful non-fiction book, this graphic novel, Clinton Cash, allows for the facts to be visually expressed. The authors understood that not everyone has the time to plow through a factually based book, so they put forth their evidence in a humorous short, snappy, and clear way to expose the vastness of the evil and corrupt global Clinton Machine.

Those that worked on this graphic novel have an impressive resume. Chuck Dixon is best known for working on the Batman comics in the 1990s as well as The Punisher and the Simpsons. Brett R. Smith is a storyboard and commercial artist. He has worked with Marvel and DC Entertainment, Hasbro, and the Cartoon Network to name a few that have included The Avengers, Superman, GI Joe, and Wolverine. It is obvious the writers, illustrators, and artists did a phenomenal job.

People should not forget how the Clintons amassed their vast financial empire. This graphic novel shows the connection between their personal fortune, friends, the Clinton Foundation, and foreign nations. Payments to the Clinton Foundation and to Bill Clinton through high speaking fees by foreign entities ultimately received favors from Hillary Clinton’s State Department in return.

Schweizer believes the Clintons have been brazenly dishonest with the American people, “They are so convinced of their own moral purity and superiority the money they make is wrapped in the cloak of philanthropy and camouflaged through charity. This is a constant pattern that is seen over and over again, the systemic approach, which should be damning. When they established the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, when Bill Clinton hit the lecture circuit while his wife was Secretary of State, there was an avenue for oligarchs in Russia, Nigeria, and Latin America to have influence. I think the evidence is pretty clear they gave a lot of money, and that favorable actions were taken by Hillary Clinton for their benefit.”

Brett R. Smith stated to, “I am outraged because Hillary Clinton is no doubt the most corrupt political candidate of our lifetime. I believe satire is the most dangerous kind of humor that can be engaged in. We used the left’s game and turned it right back on them. The left should not own pop culture. I think we have connected with younger readers since we are in the top 100 with teens. Those of us who grew up reading comics as well as many in their twenties will be able to see the facts in this form. Our goal was to show the other side of Hillary Clinton that mainstream media never speaks of.”

To have a common thread, probably the only part that is fictional, the authors decided to use a Haitian family tell their story throughout, and how the Clinton Foundation affected them. The truth as portrayed by this family is that many were left out to dry by the graft and corruption of the Clintons and their friends..

One of Brett’s favorites is the politician standing in front of the podium wearing a Uranium 1 hat with the American flag in the background and the stars replaced by a hash tag. But other highlights include the Clintons playing golf with Khamenei and company, Hillary and Bill taking a camel ride, or in a Rainforest getting rich. But the page entitled “the Clinton Blur” is possibly one of the best, a parody that shows Bill Clinton as the “Flash,” reminiscent of the old time comic book. The panels are also informative. For example, the texts saying “Isn’t it troubling that Bill was being paid by a private corporation that was also benefitting from state department actions…Isn’t it troubling that this conflict of interest was not disclosed.”

Because Brett wanted to appeal to the curiosity seeker he noted there are hidden meanings in the background of the artwork. For example, in the Re-set chapter, Russian President Vladimir Putin is playing poker with Hillary Clinton. The gold bracelet he uses for a bet is seen again a few panels down now being worn by Hillary.

Schweizer wants to warn Americans that a precedent has been set, “A way for politicians to make a lot of money while in office. If you are heading an agency or in Congress and I give you $10,000 that would be considered a bribe, but if I hire your spouse to speak for $10,000 that is not a bribe? This is a ridiculous difference. Any Cabinet officer in the US government or someone serving in Congress should not be allowed to have a private foundation that takes foreign money, nor a family member who collects speaking fees.”

The graphic novel inspired by the New York Times bestseller of the same name is stunningly illustrated, hilarious, fresh, interesting, and authentic. It brings to life Bill and Hillary Clinton’s fleecing of the US and putting its national security at risk. CLINCASH_001_037 Flash

Book Review-INSIDIOUS BY Catherine Coulter

INSIDIOUS by Catherine Coulter brings back FBI agents Savich and Sherlock, as well as introducing Special Agent Cam Wittier and Detective Daniel Montoya. As with most of her books there are two plot lines that keep readers engaged. What makes the FBI series special is the blending of humor within the riveting storylines.

In INSIDIOUS, the humor starts even before page one. In the Acknowledgments section she thanks Ski Ludwikowski (a longtime reader) for “recommending Sherlock’s birthday present from Savich, a new ankle piece, the 9 mm Glock 43. Sherlock is really enjoying it, fast-drawing between floors on the elevator.”

Coulter said to, “Ski can always be counted on to tell me the pros and cons of using certain weapons in certain situations. Ski told me Sherlock’s ankle piece, a Lady Colt, wasn’t as light and small and accurate as the Glock. And, as you’ll see, she really likes it. And who would not like such a birthday present? Actually I got a Glock 17 for my birthday, but not from Ski, but from my other half.”

In INSIDIOUS, Savich and Sherlock must discover who is trying to murder Venus Rasmussen, a powerful, wealthy Washington icon who heads up an international conglomerate, Rasmussen Industries. Arsenic poisoning followed by a direct assassination attempt at her home. Is it one of her family? Perhaps her prodigal grandson, returned after ten years?

Readers will like the Venus character. She’s eighty-six and a role model, proving that age simply isn’t important. Coulter said, “In promotion, I didn’t let out her age, because there is indeed age discrimination, and a tendency to regard older people as irrelevant. I knew that once readers met her, age would become irrelevant.”

The other plot has Savich sending Special Agent Cam Wittier to Los Angeles to head the investigation for the serial killer known as the Starlet Slasher and work with a local detective, Daniel Montoya. They are trying to find who is responsible for the horrendous murders of actresses. As with most of Coulter’s “new” characters, readers will want Cam to return. Coulter said, “Fear not. In the next FBI thriller, Enigma, she will be front and center."

Both storylines are exciting and gripping, making it difficult to prefer one mystery over the other. This is another winner by the New York Times bestselling author. Readers should be prepared to laugh, to care about these characters, as they try to solve the two mysteries.

Coulter really enjoys hearing from her readers: Every morning, she checks in at her reader page at or she can be emailed at 51zH7iCNaJL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_