Book Review: The Gate Keeper

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.

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The Gate Keeper, by the mother/son team known as Charles Todd, is a mystery with a huge ending twist.  Fans of this series will see Scotland Yard Detective Ian Rutledge having to solve a case from a different point of view. He is not only the investigator, but is the first person on the scene so he has become a witness as well.

Because this is a different type of mystery, The Todds wanted to make sure readers understand that it is not a puzzle where “there is a race between the writer and the reader as to who figures it out first. This novel has Rutledge pursuing the truth and finding a solution.  He has a dogged determination to keep tracking the killer.”

Having left his sister’s wedding in a distraught mood Rutledge decides to take a car trip. He encounters on a deserted road a woman standing next to a murder victim.  She reports how a stranger stepped in front of the car and without warning fired a shot killing Stephen Wentworth immediately.  With a list of persons of interest piling up Rutledge must sort through the many different aspects of the case.  He is helped along by a voice in his head, Corporal Hamish MacLeod, the ghost of the Scottish officer he had executed for cowardice, who comments persistently inside this detective's weary ear. Rutledge always listens, and appears to have given Hamish a life that was taken away. Hamish is real to Rutledge, sometimes antagonistic, sometimes supportive, sometimes part of his unconscious perception, an inner-self.

An interesting piece to the storyline is the similarities between the victim, Stephen, and the detective, Rutledge.  They both had someone close to them killed in the war, although Rutledge played more of a role.  They were also both jilted by the woman they loved.”  The Todds noted, “Stephen is the ultra ego of Rutledge in some ways, and that is probably one of the reasons why he wanted to follow through and find the killer. They both developed levels of coping skills and were solitary people.  Neither became involved in a relationship after their engagement was broken.  Yet, Ian came from a loving family, and Stephen from a dysfunctional one.” 

One of the secondary characters can best be described as an early 20th Century “Mommy Dearest.”  The mother of Stephen is vicious, spoiled, and uncaring who tried to thwart any happiness her son might achieve.  “We wanted to write a character where the mother hated her son all his life. She sees him as a monster, an ugly duckling.  She has no redeeming qualities. She enjoys painting him in a dim light.  Basically, just a terrible person who is bitter and self-centered.”

Because World War I play such an important role in the storyline, readers get a glimpse into the emotional wounds of many of the men, including Rutledge. “We wanted to humanize those who have served.  Our goal as writers is to show how they were ordinary people and then were trained to be warriors.  When they come back they must learn to trust again and to relate to those outside of their unit, the band of brothers. They can talk amongst their peers because they know there is a sense of understanding. Having experienced horrors first hand they cannot just shut out what they saw on the battlefield.”

The Gate Keeper by Charles Todd is a ‘who done it’ type of mystery.  Readers will enjoy the investigative process Ian Rutledge must go through to find the culprit.


Book Review: The Sea Before Us

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.

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The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin brings into focus British cultural and historical tidbits, a mystery involving an embezzler, a World War II setting, and a love triangle.  It is a reminder of how America’s finest prepared for the D-Day invasion to defeat the Nazis.

The year is 1944 and the Allied forces are preparing for the invasion of Normandy.  Lieutenant Wyatt Paxton is a US Naval officer advising on how to use naval power during the assault.  He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a "Wren" in the Women's Royal Naval Service. Her duties include piecing together reconnaissance photographs of France that include those of her own family's summer home. These accurate maps of Normandy, are used by Wyatt to create naval bombardment plans. As their friendship blossoms he uses his other skills as an accountant to help her figure out which employee has been embezzling in her father’s company.  The tensions increase as they both must deal with enemies on the home front and abroad.

Having visited Normandy, Sundin was struck with “the impressive sight than we learned in the history books.  When I looked at Point du Hoc, where the US Rangers scaled the cliff, I thought that someday I wanted to write about it.  I was blown away by what the men did there.  After I started to do my research I found out that the US Navy was very involved.  I was awed by the role the US destroyers had in Operation Neptune.  These ships charged within eight hundred yards of the shore, heedless of mines and artillery, to protect those on the shore.  They knocked out strongpoints and toppled gun batteries off cliffs that were pinning down the allied forces.  I also wanted to inform readers about the ‘Little Blitz.’  It was overshadowed by the German Blitz during 1940-41.  In 1944 the Luftwaffe retaliated for the heavy Allied bombing of German cities, killing 1,500 Londoners.  But it actually backfired because they lost 300 bombers, crippling the German Air Force on the eve of the Normandy invasion.”

The characters are very well-developed. They share the feeling of being all alone and having a fractioned family.  She has lost her mother and brothers in the war and senses that her father resents her. In the meantime, Wyatt ran from his troubles, being blamed by his brother Adler for his fiancé’s death, even though it was an accident, then stealing two thousand dollars from his brother Clay.  Having admitted his mistakes, he is repenting by saving his salary to pay his brother back.  

In the beginning of the story Dorothy comes across as insecure, trying to be someone she is not, even going to a point of hiding the freckles on her face.  She is doing this for what she perceives is the love of her life, Lieutenant Commander Lawrence Eaton, a self-centered playboy.  She looks on Wyatt as a brother and sees Eaton as a heart throb.  This romance plays out within the background of WWII and emphasizes the different cultures between the Texan Wyatt and the English Dorothy and Eaton.

Sundin explained, “In hiding her freckles with make-up she is hiding who she is. I put in the story how Wyatt thought they belonged with her red hair and Lawrence thought it dreadful.  Wyatt accepted them, and Eaton wanted them covered up and hidden.  It is typical of some guys who tell women ‘you would be cute, if...’  Dorothy also tried to be more sophisticated, molding herself into someone she is not to impress Eaton.  She basically compromises herself to impress him.”

This new series, ‘Sunrise at Normandy,’ is about three brothers:  Wyatt in the Navy, Adler in the Air Force, and Clay a Delta Ranger.  Readers will be looking forward to the follow-up books because this first in the series is a home-run.


Book Review Edge Of Darknes

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.

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Edge of Darkness by Karen Rose is the fourth book of the famous suspenseful Cincinnati series.  As with most of her books she explores relevant issues centered around friends and colleagues.  This one is no different since the current issues of abuse and addiction become the main theme of the novel.

Meredith Fallon counsels sexually abused women like Mallory Martin to help them reintegrate into the world. But not everyone sees it as honorable and decides to eliminate her by hiring a killer. Detective Adam Kimble doesn’t even hesitate when his boss orders him to investigate.  Old feelings come to the surface since the two had a brief relationship earlier.  But Adam pulled away as he struggled with events that were truly harrowing.  Knowing he is a recovering alcoholic he feels he doesn’t want to depend on the relationship with Meredith, essentially moving from one addiction to another. This becomes a tale of damaged people who re-connect during a violent and frightening time of their life. They must struggle with their demons, getting the relationship to work, and finding the killer. 

Readers will know a lot about Adam Kimble because Rose explores his backstory.  “In the first book I wrote him as a belligerent jerk. As the series progresses we see him changing and having to deal with something terrible that happened to him, which throws him off the rails.  Now he is a recovering alcoholic who is learning to face his demons.  Even though he feels very connected to Meredith, Adam understands she cannot be his reason for sobriety.  He knows he must get better on his own, and not be dependent on her.  Readers see that Adam is capable of surviving without Meredith, but also knows he will be happy if they are together. As with most people, they do not have charmed lives and have some source of pain. During several points in this book I cried because it is what many of my friends experienced. They needed to understand you must live your life for yourself, not for others. My characters are banged up by life, but can still hold their own.”

Because she has experienced first-hand harassment Rose wants to write in almost all of her stories this and abuse.  “Abuse of women is a big theme in my books. I continued the story from the previous book, Every Dark Corner. It dealt with Mallory Martin who was abused and now in this book she is recovering. I think there is a fine line between actively showing abuse on the page and being too provocative.  I don’t want to provide any material that will be too salacious.  I had my own ‘#MeToo’ moment. At nineteen I had to quit a job that was good paying and one I liked because I did not see any way out of the situation.  I did not think anyone would believe me. Almost every woman I talked to had a Me Too incident.  It is a big part of my books because it is a big part of our lives.” 

Fans should be happy this will not be the last book in the series and will be treated to another suspenseful novel that delves into Dani and Diesel’s life. 


Book Review: The Great Alone

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.

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The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah is another winner from the author of the bestseller The Nightingale.  There are not enough adjectives in the English language to describe the greatness of this novel. It is an adventure story where readers feel they are put in the middle of the Alaskan frontier; it is a relationship story that also confronts abuse and obsession; and it is a love story between a mother/daughter, father/son, and two young adults as well as the land and those who lived on it.

Hannah titled this novel, The Great Alone, because “Alaska is such a wild landscape and the people who live there are rugged, fierce, and individualists. It is what the poet Robert Service called Alaska. The primal essence of the book is survival. The actual day-to-day survival in these incredibly harsh conditions depends on the individual who needs to be tough.  It is a remote geographical area from the Continental US.  80% of Alaska still has no roads at all.  In the winter rivers become the highways and in the summer, it is difficult to get around.”

The plot begins with the Allbright family moving to Alaska after a Vietnam buddy willed them a cabin by the Kenai River.  The daughter Leni hopes that this new start will lead to a better future for her family since her father can never keep a job.  At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The generosity of the locals makes up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources. Through the Allbright’s story readers will encounter the rugged Alaskan landscape and the different relationship dynamics that will form amongst the characters.

It is also the story of how seven characters must not only fight nature, but help those fight their own demons.  Ernt Allbright is a Vietnam POW who has returned home with PTSD, suffering sleepless nights, flashbacks, nightmares and a volatile behavior. His wife Cora is consumed by caring for their daughter.  Leni tries to understand her parents and is someone who must grow up way too fast, becoming her mother’s protector from her abusive father. She falls in love with Matthew Walker who wants to show her happiness, loyalty, and security.  His father Tom is someone who perceptively realizes that the Alaskan environment must be modernized, and his son should no longer be isolated and enclosed. He has a feud with Ernt and Mad Earl, who team up in their resentments of government, the military, and the Walker family.  Representing an Alaskan homesteader is Large Marge, a no-nonsense woman who tries to help the Allbright women see the light.

There are two compelling issues the author delves into, abuse and PTSD.  “I wrote Ernt as someone who suffers from PTSD and mental illness that went undiagnosed.  My personal take is that he was troubled before he went off to war and became trapped by his own demons.  He ultimately evolves into the villain.  In the remote isolated cabin, he becomes a threat to his daughter and wife.  At the end of the story when Leni finds his medals and the newspaper clip showing his ghostly features after returning home, I hope it is a reminder that there was a time he was not despised.”

Regarding the violence, Ernt has toward his wife, “I wanted to show readers they had a toxic relationship. Cora would do anything for her daughter except leave her husband. She describes the relationship as if he has cancer and is sick.  He describes it as similar to heroin.  Both are aware of the deep flaw in their love. They represent the dark side of love.  A love gone wrong that was probably more of an obsession.  On the other hand, Leni and Matthew’s relationship is a dream, romantic, love at first sight where they are meant to be together.  A love that overcomes everything and lasts.  They both sacrificed for each other.”

But the setting of Alaska is also a character, a place of beauty and danger. Readers discover the state with its summers of constant light, ferocious winters that blankets eighteen hours of night and enormous amounts of snow, as well as the need for each person to protect themselves as they learn to raise vegetables, overcome the isolation and remoteness, and hunt, making sure that nothing goes to waste.

An added bonus is how Hannah intertwines events of the 1970s into this novel. She puts in historical tidbits including Ted Bundy, Patty Hearst, the Munich Olympics, punk rock, and the latest novel of Stephen King. “I wrote in the character Mad Earl as a very bad influence on Ernt.   He has resentment against the government. But remember, almost everyone in his family did not go along with his attitude.  He was probably the worst person Ernt could have met. Just as throughout the US, in Alaska there are pockets of these ‘Survivalists.’ Through him I was able to show the 1970s was a time of political and social unrest including the Vietnam War that brought such division.”

The Great Alone is a tale of love, despair, and hope within the dangerous frontier. This story takes readers on a journey hunting with Leni, seeing the Alaska landscape, and trying to process how one individual who supposedly loves his family can be so cruel. But it is also an optimistic look at how Leni’s strength grows throughout the book as she turns from naïve adolescent to a grown woman. A word of warning, read it with a tissue box nearby because this story is an emotional roller coaster ride.


Book Review: Into The Black Nowhere

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.

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Into The Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner is such an intense plot that the light should be on when reading this.  It is a testament to her writing that she can have a dark action-packed plot without the gory details and still grab readers from page one.  This novel delves into the minds of a serial killer and those in law enforcement who pursue them.  In this second book of the series the psychopath mirrors the real-like killers Ted Bundy with a little of Dennis Rader.

Her descriptive scenes allow for Gardiner to “have a touch of blood going a long way.  Readers’ imaginations are much more powerful than what I could put on a page.  All I do is suggest and then people’s fears take it from there.  It is a creepy idea that people are just here and then are gone.  There are still victims of Ted Bundy that have not been found.  I read about recent cases around the country where people have just vanished.  Imagine, even with forensics, surveillance, and drones it is still possible for people to disappear.”

The premise of the story is that people can vanish without a trace.  The book opens with a gripping scene in which the killer is holding an infant on his lap.  He lures the new mother to him and is able to abduct her. She is not the first victim but actually the fifth.  The local police enlist the help of Caitlin Hendrix, a former narcotics detective who had a knack for tracking killers, and is now a rookie FBI agent assigned to the elite Behavioral Analysis Unit. She and her colleagues, Brianne Rainey and C. J. Emmerich are called in to find this perpratrator. All the victims vanish on Saturday nights, one from a movie theatre, another from her car, and others from a salon, a college campus, and a café. What Caitlin must do is get inside the mind of this psychopath to figure out his selection process.  The FBI is desperately searching for him before he can kill again.

The reason for Ted Bundy, “I wanted to show how he was someone on the outside who every mother would want for their daughter.  He was so good at camouflaging himself and was able to slip through the cracks. Kyle is hiding in plain sight similar to what Ted Bundy did.  Both passed themselves off to the world at large as clean cut American guys who were bright, had a big future ahead, charming, who knows how to easily gain people’s trust. I wanted to show how these monsters wear the mask of sanity because they look normal.  They take advantage of that to have people let down their guard.”

This is a gripping novel that concentrates on the pathological ways of a serial killer.  It is informative, action-packed, and has well-developed characters.


Book Review: Cutting Edge

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.

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Cutting Edge by Ward Larsen is a modern-day western, that also reminds readers of Superman and The Six Million Dollar Man.  As the book describes it, the antagonist, Delta, and the protagonist, Trey have a “High Noon standoff 21st Century.”  The Superman qualities is that each have x-ray vision of sorts where their brains become a computer monitor, and Delta has similar qualities of the Six Million Dollar Man with his speed and strength.

The other character in the book is technology.  Larsen connected his characters to the Web, which he does not see as far-fetched.  “Trey has a screen in his right eye.  Voice and facial recognition are at his fingertips where he can even record and send conversations.  I made sure to allow him to have access to only people who are in databases, so he could not find recent refugees or children.  He can find any information on a person because he is given top level security access.  It is doable where implants are put in the brain and then a person can connect directly to the Internet.  I would describe it as an implantable brain computer that interfaces.  It is being designed to for those who have prosthetics.”

The plot has Trey Debolt, a Coast Guard rescuer swimmer, fighting for his life after a helicopter crash.  Officially he was declared dead, because no one knows that there is a rogue government experimental unit who chose to use him as a guinea pig.  He becomes a man on the run after he witnesses his savior, nurse Joan Chandler, being gunned down. It becomes a game of cat and mouse as the hunted and the hunter try to outwit each other.  Fortunately for Trey, Shannon Lund decides to investigate his death.  Having access to records as a civilian working for the Coast Guard Investigative Service, she agrees to help him get to the bottom of what was done to him and to find the culprits chasing him including Delta.

Besides the fast-paced plot Larsen explores how technology has both good and bad points.  Readers will hope that he turns Trey and Shannon into a series and that there will be sequels written.


Book Review: The Wife

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.

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The Wife by Alafair Burke starts out the New Year with a thrilling read.  It is more plot driven since many of the characters are not very likable. The story is intense and dark being told by a possible unreliable narrator. 

The author does think “readers might disagree who is likeable and who is not.  It is a myth that characters must fall into one category or the other.  I want to write complicated characters. Just as in real life it is hard to be always likeable or not.  At some point, everyone in the book is doing something that might be conceived as bad, with degrees of culpability.  There are reasons why they are doing certain things and people can decide if those reasons are justified, excused, or understandable.  The characters I like are Angela, her mother, her son, Colin, and Susanna.” 

The storyline concentrates on Angela, who suffered extreme trauma in her teen years and now learns that her husband, Jason, may be a sexual predator.  This novel is timely and will force people to question how they think about the victims of sexual misconduct and those they accuse.  Today more and more women accuse politicians, celebrities, and businessmen of harassment. Burke must have had a crystal ball since she wrote this novel a year ago.  The author delves into both facets, the accuser and the accused, where readers wonder if Jason actually raped someone, harassed them, was it a misunderstanding, or was it mutual?

Burke explores how “Angela sees her life going viral.  She has no idea of the process because she has no background in law enforcement.  People always think the wife had to know and is complicit.  The idea for the book came from my responses as a prosecutor, which is ‘she would be the last person to know.’ Jason is not going to tell her he is sexually harassing women.  Since she has no expertise or reliable information she must piece together the truth through her memories, news reports, and just having some skepticism of what he tells her.  Think about it.  Her husband was accused of sexual misconduct so his defense has to be there was mutual consent.  For him, to be criminally innocent makes him culpable in the marriage.  His legal exoneration means he has been having affairs.”

The Wife expertly delves into the different dynamics of relationships and the needed compromises that must be made to resolve conflicting values.


Book Review and Author Q/A Light It Up

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.

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Light It Up by Nick Petrie is the third installment of the Peter Ash series. It is a fascinating story, but what makes this book special are the many layers.  It has an action-packed plot intertwining guns, drugs, and money. But it also probes the subject of returning soldiers.  People might think of Peter Ash as a clone of Lee Child’s character Jack Reacher, but in actuality the only similarity is that both are wandering characters. Ash’s military life and his current status as a veteran with PTSD are thoughtfully explored and unlike Reacher Petrie’s character has formed bonds with his girlfriend June and a good buddy Lewis.

Readers will not have a chance to get settled in because almost from the first page the action begins.  Peter decides to take a job riding shotgun to protect an enormous amount of cash being transferred.  His friend, Henry, whose daughter runs a Denver security company that protects cash-rich cannabis entrepreneurs from modern-day highwaymen, Peter, and two others are in an armed truck in the mountains of Colorado.  The $300,000 cargo comes under attack by Highway hijackers. Of the four, Ash is the lone survivor of the melee. He is determined to get to the bottom of what happened and will use all his skills learnt while in the military, including being a hunter, tracker, and if necessary a killer. He enlists the help of his girlfriend June Cassidy and his good friend Lewis to find the culprits.

Elise Cooper:  In many ways this is a story of a veteran?

Nick Petrie:  I am not a veteran so I am not writing from personal experience.  However, I did speak with many who have returned from active duty.  They told of the challenges they have faced and my hero, Peter Ash, is based on those conversations.  I enjoy talking with vets when they reach out to me. 

EC:  How would you describe Peter?

NP:  He is reserved, ambitious, loyal, tough, resourceful, and able to use the skills he learned in the military. I wanted to make sure he is morally driven, and is very capable of solving a mystery.  But as with many returning veterans he has PTSD, something he calls ‘white static,’ where he has extreme claustrophobia.

EC:  The June character compliments Peter?

NP:  I love writing her character. She is Ash minus the military. I would describe her as ingenious, intelligent, no-nonsense, and strong.  She and Peter relate well together.  I put in the scene of her locked in the trunk of a car to show how she did not think of herself, but how Peter feels being in enclosed places. I based her on the women in my life.

EC:  In what way?

NP:  Every woman in my life are pretty ferocious people.  My mom is someone who wakes up very day raring to go and has an office nickname of ‘the hammer.’  My sister is super smart and super strategic.  My wife Margaret doesn’t take anything from anybody and has no patience for people who are incompetent, lazy, and will not get the job done.  They all push me to be a better person.

EC:  How would you describe June’s and Peter’s relationship?

NP:  They have found something in each other.  I think they profoundly understand one another and are rescuing each other all the time.  They also help each other feel safe.  I put in the scenes with the letter writing to each other, the Pony Express mail, because each can put down in words their feelings.  Peter is a romantic and wanted to woo June.

EC:  How would you describe Lewis?

NP:  I think he is bright, curious, and self-taught. He is a career criminal who has decided to go straight.  Peter and Lewis have an unconditional friendship similar to the connection those in the military have who served in combat together.  A woman who was Lewis’ childhood sweetheart became reconnected to him through Peter since her late husband was his best friend while in the military.

EC:  Do you think Peter compares to Jack Reacher?

NP:  I am a great fan of Lee Child and think he is a superstar of crime fiction.  I think the world surrounding Peter is a bit different from Reacher’s world.  I am very frank that I stole from Lee this character who sticks his nose into another person’s business.  You know what they say, ‘bad artists borrow and great artists steal.’  I do see my character as more vulnerable both physically and emotionally. 

EC:  Do you think PTSD is a character in the book?

NP:  Yes.  ‘White Static’ is a voice in Peter’s head.  I wrote in the previous book that it is his ‘Spidey sense.’  It is not quite his conscience, but a voice of his warrior self.  Speaking with veterans who have this, they say it is a profound piece of their life.  At its worse it takes out their relationships and friendships. As in many true cases, I had June push Peter to get help. I put in the quote, ‘Even after months of therapy, part of him still felt like it was his fault, something personally wrong with him.  Not just his brain chemistry altered by eight years of war, locked into a fight-or-flight zone.’

EC:  Many veterans noted that they feel it is a silent wound and that reintegration is a major problem?

NP:  All the military characters in this book have some trouble.  Peter had PTSD and feels embarrassed and has panic attacks.  He does not want pity, but just for others to understand what he is going through. This is why I put in the quote, ‘A lot of guys had trouble figuring out how they fit back into their old life, or imagining the new one.’

EC:  It is interesting that you have bad guys and good guys that were former military?

NP:  Of course Peter is the good guy.  Marine Colonel Daniel Clay Dixon is somewhere in between in that he did some bad things, but when it counted did what was right.  Then there was Leonard Wallis, pure evil, a psychopath who basically enjoys doing bad things and killing people.  I wanted to humanize those in the military because sometimes we forget they are people.  A veteran told me he hates stories where everyone in the military are heroes because he served with some real jerks.  I wanted to show the full spectrum.

EC:  Can you explain this quote, “That restless urge toward the fight, like some clattering windup mechanism whose coiled spring never rewound”?

NP:  It is that adrenaline rush.  I heard this often from those who were in combat.  The intensity of the experience is hard to give up.  The deployment overseas in a combat zone has every moment with a heightened feeling.  I think that is why some have so many deployments.  I spoke with this guy who told me after waking up the first thing he did is reach for his gun.  It took him six months to lose that reflex.  I had this feeling stay with Peter, even now, that tension and alertness. The thread is that war never leaves those who were in combat.

EC:  Why the Robert Frost poem in the beginning of the book?

NP:  I am a big fan of his.  The theme of this book is obligation and what we owe to those we care about.  This book is about how they are rescuing each other all the time.  It feeds into the veterans I spoke with. They had the attitude of debt and obligation, and how they owed their country and their peers.  It is about empathy and connecting with the other person by putting themselves in their shoes. 

EC:  Do you think the weather plays a role in the plot?

NP:  It is a variable.  I found it to be very dramatic when I was there.  In Denver lighting is a big deal so much so that there are lighting shelters.  If you noticed I started and ended in the mountains to bring in the weather as a prop.  One of the most vivid scenes in when the gurney was rolling down the mountainside and Peter used it as an escape vehicle.  My goal was to put people in the middle of this action sequence as if they were actually there. 

EC:  What do you want readers to get out of the book?

NP:  Of course an entertaining story.  But I also wanted to explore some issues in a substantive way. I hope the novel resonates with people.  I wrote the Ash character because I think that we as Americans see the war as an abstract concept. Many have not discussed with those who have come back their emotional and physical scars.  I want to show people that there are actually human beings who went to protect us.  We should try to understand them as well as thanking them for their service.

EC:  Can you give a heads up about your next book?

NP:  June and Peter start their life together but since he is not an indoor domesticated creature he is having some problems.  It is metaphorical for his life and having to live within society’s norms.  She will be in the book, but less of a character.  June sends him to Memphis to help a good friend of hers who is a war photographer and is being harassed. 

THANK YOU!!


Book Review: Cutting Edge

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.

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Cutting Edge by Ward Larsen is a modern-day western, that also reminds readers of Superman and The Six Million Dollar Man.  As the book describes it, the antagonist, Delta, and the protagonist, Trey have a “High Noon standoff 21st Century.”  The Superman qualities is that each have x-ray vision of sorts where their brains become a computer monitor, and Delta has similar qualities of the Six Million Dollar Man with his speed and strength.

The other character in the book is technology.  Larsen connected his characters to the Web, which he does not see as far-fetched.  “Trey has a screen in his right eye.  Voice and facial recognition are at his fingertips where he can even record and send conversations.  I made sure to allow him to have access to only people who are in databases, so he could not find recent refugees or children.  He can find any information on a person because he is given top level security access.  It is doable where implants are put in the brain and then a person can connect directly to the Internet.  I would describe it as an implantable brain computer that interfaces.  It is being designed to for those who have prosthetics.”

The plot has Trey Debolt, a Coast Guard rescuer swimmer, fighting for his life after a helicopter crash.  Officially he was declared dead, because no one knows that there is a rogue government experimental unit who chose to use him as a guinea pig.  He becomes a man on the run after he witnesses his savior, nurse Joan Chandler, being gunned down. It becomes a game of cat and mouse as the hunted and the hunter try to outwit each other.  Fortunately for Trey, Shannon Lund decides to investigate his death.  Having access to records as a civilian working for the Coast Guard Investigative Service, she agrees to help him get to the bottom of what was done to him and to find the culprits chasing him including Delta.

Besides the fast-paced plot Larsen explores how technology has both good and bad points.  Readers will hope that he turns Trey and Shannon into a series and that there will be sequels written.


Book Review: Oath Of Honor

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.

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Oath Of Honor by Lynette Eason is the first in a new series. This thrilling story is a shout out to those in law enforcement who put their lives on the line each and every day to keep everyone safe.  The action never ceases as the plot combines a mystery, criminal investigation, politics, gang wars, shootings, and bad cops.  What makes this story stand out is that Eason also brings to life engaging and well-developed characters, including some who have a subtle romance.

The plot begins with childhood friends who are now police partners, Izzy St. John and Kevin Marshall, surveilling an abandoned warehouse after they receive a tip that a high-level arms deal will take place.  Kevin decides to go rogue, sprinting into the warehouse and dies in a spray of bullets.  Izzy is determined to discover what exactly happened and agrees to work with Kevin’s brother, detective Ryan Marshall, as they unofficially work the case.  

This family affair book might remind readers of the TV show Blue Bloods. “I really enjoy it.  One day I was sitting there watching it and thought it might be cool to create my own law enforcement family that will have their own adventures, dangers, and romantic situations.  The Reagan family loves each other unconditionally and shows how law enforcement is in their blood, passed down from generation to generation. Since I married into a big extended family I thought how nice it is to have a large family and used my imagination to create one.”

The hero and heroine are determined, hard-working, and have a sense of right versus wrong. Eason describes Izzy as someone who is “a go-getter.  She is smart, inquisitive, loyal, seeks justice, and will always have her friends and family’s back.  But she is also stubborn and has a pit bull type of mentality.  Izzy believes anyone who does wrong should face consequences. The hero, Ryan, is tough, a protector, who wants to make everything right.”

Izzy should be singing the song “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” because in this story she is put through the ringer.  She was shot, beaten, had her house set on fire, and thrown from a building.  When writing Izzy’s hardships Eason thought of “the Charlie Brown character Pig Pen, having a dust cloud over their heads.  She also had a traumatic past which has shaped her current thought process.  She is determined to not let it define who she is and will not let it get the best of her. This is why I put in the book this quote, ‘I think sometimes we let our fears build to a point where they’re bigger in our minds than in reality.’  She will always face her fears.”

This first in the series is a mystery that will keep readers guessing with the many twists and turns. Her details, descriptions, and characters have people yearning for more. Beyond the mystery it is a great story of love, family, and as Eason writes in the dedication, this series is “to the men and women in blue…who risk everything to keep us safe.”


Book Review: The English Wife

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.

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The English Wife by Lauren Willig is full of intrigue and suspense.  It is a refreshing change from all the recent Gone Girl look alikes, and instead is part mystery, part love story, and part family drama. This historical crime fiction novel involves murder, scandals, and secrets.

The Gilded Age is highlighted between the years 1894 in England to 1899 in New York.  Bayard, the son of a Knickerbocker prominent family returns after a three-year absence with his English wife, Annabelle aka Georgie.  Their supposed whirlwind romance is shattered at the opening of their Twelfth Night Ball to highlight the new manor.  Bayard is discovered with a dagger in his chest, while Annabelle appears to have drowned in the Hudson.

The story should remind readers of the Clue Game with an abundance of suspects and motives.  There is Bay’s cousin Anne, who could be having an affair, his sister Janie who found the body, his mother who is omnipresent, and his wife Georgie who has disappeared.  As rumors swirl, Janie decides to work with a reporter, Burke, to save the reputation of her brother and sister-in-law to uncover the truth.

Readers are taken back to stories of the past with the characters.  Bayard reminds people of Noel Coward, enjoying music, the arts, and plays, while having another side to his life.  The cousin Anne and Bay’s sister Janie are close to the Cinderella characters with the mother, Mrs. Van Duyvil a reminder of the stepmother. 

Willig noted, “Mrs. Van Duyvil was cold, controlling, impersonal, and distant.  She was only concerned with the lineage, money, and power.  She represented the old New York attitude.  I put in the quote of her telling Annabelle that her heritage went back to Revolutionary times to prove how important her family was. Of course, Annabelle replies that her lineage goes back to the Magna Carta.  I guess that was her in your face moment to her mother-in-law. The comparison fits well with the Cinderella story because Anne is told she has no place in this world.  Like Cinderella Anne is beautiful and charming. Mrs. Van Duyvil treated Janie and Anne as her pawns.”

The ball called the Twelfth Night is based on the Shakespearean play of the same name.  Willig wanted to show that the play’s story “is all about misunderstanding.  It has everyone thinking someone is someone else.  This plays into the secrets the characters are keeping from each other.  There are a lot of people masquerading as someone else. This is similar to this novel’s story where it delves into what the world has done to them.  The real heart of my story is that all the characters are forced by the world they live in to try to be people they are not. This is especially true with Georgie and Bay who were full of secrets with each hiding something from the other.  There were these implied lies based on the omission of information.  Georgie first saw Bay as the Prince Charming and he thinks of her as the missing heiress.”

Readers will enjoy this novel because Willig brings to the forefront the attitudes and issues of the period within the context of a riveting mystery.  She shows through the characters how the Gilded Age was based on wealth and stature, and with it came scandal.  This is where the murder mystery comes into play allowing Willig to combine everything into a very compelling story.   


Book Review: Promise Not To Tell

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.

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Promise Not To Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz is a breath-taking story.  While the first in the series, When All the Girls Have Gone, was spell-binding, this book leaves the readers’ heart pounding as it is more of a thriller than a mystery.  Krentz delivers an impactful series by focusing each novel on one of three brothers.  Each book can be read as a stand-alone, but in not reading the first people will miss out on the engaging story of Max Sutter.

The premise for the series has police chief Anson Salinas rescuing eight children trapped in a blazing barn, but unfortunately, he was unable to save their mothers.  They were entrapped in a compound, part of a cult run by a manipulative, controlling psychopath Quinton Zane.  Now, over twenty years later, Salinas has a private investigative service with two of the three boys he rescued and then adopted. 

Krentz noted, “Even though I do not know anyone in a cult, I wanted to write about that whole notion of getting sucked in and used. This was not a religious cult, but one based on technology and the desire to change the future of the world. It was more of a pyramid scheme cult based on money and power. I was very careful to show that the children were not sucked in, just the parents.  The mothers were very smart and intelligent people who became entrapped as they feared for their lives as well as their child’s life.” 

One of the children, Virginia Troy, has tracked Anson down to uncover what happened to her good friend, Hannah Brewster, a reclusive artist, who died under suspicious circumstances. After agreeing to take the assignment he assigns his adoptive son, Cabot Cutler to the case. He and Virginia suspect that the death could be related to the cult since Hannah was one of a few adults who escaped. The intensity takes off from there and never lets up.

On the surface, it appears Cabot and Virginia only have in common their past. What does the owner of an art gallery have in common with a former law enforcement officer? The hero and heroine share the inability to sustain a relationship, putting a wall between themselves and others. This is due in part to their suffering from PTSD, reliving the fire in their nightmares, panic attacks, and strange sleeping behaviors. Throughout the story they overcome their emotional scars and begin to connect with each other intimately, sharing a mutual understanding of respect, empathy, and tolerance of their differences.

Comparing Cabot and Virginia, Krentz sees both similarities and differences. “Cabot appears aloof and unemotional.  Very literal, serious, and curious.  A complicated character. As with so many of my characters he is reinventing himself with a new job and a new life, starting over emotionally and professionally.  In order to navigate his world, he needs a mission, which is why he became a part of the private investigative business, to help people find answers.  All my characters are complicated and reserved emotionally because they have been burned in some way.  With Cabot, the burn is literal and goes back to his childhood drama while in the cult. Virginia is in the same boat as Cabot.  They both looked at the world in two ways, seeing the humor and the dark side.  She is outwardly reserved, sharp, polished, and sophisticated. She likes to size up people.”

This book is action-packed and fast-paced. It has everything a reader can desire: suspense, romance, and riveting characters. Readers will be left yearning for the concluding story of the series.


Book Review and Author Q/A: The Power Of A Seal

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.

Many military books have been written by and about SEALs.  The Power of A Seal by Anne Elizabeth is a suspense-romance novel that highlights the SEAL community. It blends a mysterious plot, some romance, and a realistic look at those serving.

Readers gain an insight into the personality of a SEAL.  They are truly the selfless warriors that do not require any accolades: humble, bold, strong, brave, with an inner calm during the missions. 

The Power of A Seal explores the mental anguish many who serve go through when their bodies, either emotionally or physically, tell them it is time to look for another line of work.  The hero, Leaper Lefton, after undergoing a traumatic experience, is reassigned to the BUD training program as a SEAL instructor to teach, lead, assess, evaluate, and test the trainees, making sure they have the emotional and physical skills. While on a training mission in Coronado Leaper spots a woman in danger in the middle of the ocean.  After rescuing her, he finds out that Kerry Hamilton is a marine veterinarian assigned to the Marine Mammal Program that works with the Navy.  She is responsible for the health and well-being of the dolphins and sea lions.  After discovering a disease among the dolphins, she enlists Leaper’s help to medicate the wild dolphins and test a cure. The love story takes off from here, but readers are also treated to details about the SEAL training and the Marine Mammal Program.

Elise Cooper:  Why did you want to write a series centered on the SEAL community?

Anne Elizabeth:  My husband Carl served in Vietnam in 1963 and 1964, part of the Underwater Demolition Team, as a swimmer scout, better known as a Navy Frogman. He then became part of SEAL Team 1 in 1965 and was deployed back to Vietnam in 1966 and 1969. He told me I could honor the community and country by writing about these dedicated men.  I wanted to inform people about the challenges and to show their personal courage. There are basic facts that are true to all military life: struggles with marriage, family, relationships, money, health, and returning home.

EC:  Is your heroine as strong-willed as her male counterpart?

AE:  Anyone having a relationship with a SEAL needs to be their own person with their own self-expression. The woman has to be as alpha and strong as the man. Kerry is very comfortable with her dolphins.  It is not that she is not sociable, but really involved with her career.

EC:  How would you describe the hero?

AE:  Leaper is very old-fashioned, protective, a workaholic, and very private.

EC: You also do the walk by helping your community?

AE:  My husband and I strive to honor those serving 365 days a year.  The public should be aware of the sacrifices made and understand that the SEALs are selfless warriors.  Carl is still part of the Legacy Program that remembers those who served.  We always send holiday packages to some families that have faced hardships to remember the sacrifices they make as well. We want to show them they are not alone and Americans are thinking of them.

EC:  You address the disease of dolphins?

AE: They are really sick.  Remember the book is a novel, but in reality, there is no solution.  The Amazon is the only place they have not found the sick dolphins.  These pink dolphins might be the clue to help the species. 

EC:  You highlight the Marine Mammal Program?

AE:  It is pretty amazing.  It upsets me that people think they are harming the mammals.  I think these people do not understand the program.  My husband and another family member have worked for the organization. I know the people who work for this program do not think of it as a job, but as a calling. Because it is part of the Navy we have found that they can help and teach us.  For example, people with kidney stones eat the same diet, gelatin, as the dolphins. Both are hydrated by putting an IV right into their stomach.  They were taught to identify mines and enemy swimmers.  They also teach us how to communicate. 

EC:  How do you handle the relationship aspect?

AE:  Anyone who has a relationship with a military member knows that when they meet a person it usually blows their mind. It is the concept I write about where they know there is something unique and special during that first moment. Basically, it is about knowing it right away, which is what happened when I met my husband; even though, we took our time. I can’t imagine my life without him.

EC:  How would you describe the relationship between Leaper and Kerry?

AE: They want to move forward with a purpose.  I think there has to be that spark that creates chemistry.  Of course, a sense of humor helps, which is why the banter between them was special.  I wanted them to be “swim buddies for life.”

EC:  They were a little older, it seemed Kerry was in her thirties and Leaper in his forties?

AE:  I do not want to reveal their ages but people can do the math considering he has been a SEAL for decades and she is a vet.  This is just reality today.  It used to be people married right out of college, in their twenties.  But I do not see that at all anymore.  I don’t remember the last time I went to a twenty something marriage.

EC:  This book is not as action-packed as the previous ones, and emphasizes the SEAL philosophy?

AE:  I did concentrate on the training.  My husband Carl taught me something emphasized in the BUDs program.  There is a lot to be afraid of in the world. It is not about running from danger, but facing it, and holding your ground.  There is a difference between being fearful versus facing your fear.  This is one of the big lessons of the book, stand up to your fear.

EC:  Music plays a big role in the story and you even have a playlist at the end?

AE:  My husband and I absolutely love music.  A good friend of mine, Mimi Cruz, owns a comic book store, Night-Flight.com. Carl and Mimi had a big influence on my music choices.  I love the Pixies and had as one of my character’s theme song: having their feet on the air and their head on the ground.  As I was writing scenes I found I was drawn to certain music.  For example, when Kerry is sitting in her car I could imagine American Authors singing “Best Day of My Life.” I also thought of the Journey song, “Don’t Stop Believin,” where the characters would feel the realness of the moment.

EC:  Besides good entertainment what do you want readers to get out of your books?

AE:  To get their mind working.  Every book I have written has some kind of educational element whether about technology, the SEAL community, the space race, Veteran issues, or the Mammal Program.  I never lecture, but hope to spark the readers’ imagination and engage them.

THANK YOU!!


Book Review and Q/A with W.E.B. Griffin about Death At Nuremberg

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.

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Death At Nuremberg by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV is more than a thriller.  These authors have a knack for telling a riveting story that is intertwined with historical facts.  It is a reminder of past history and the plot supports how history in many ways is repeating itself.  Some of the facts are so incredibly gripping they can make for a thriller in and of themselves. 

This plot covers the time period when the Nuremberg war trials began with covert intelligence agent Captain James Cronley Jr. having to handle many fronts: the Russians, Nazis, and a bureaucracy. He has been reassigned from the Chief, DCI-Europe to protecting the Nuremberg US Chief Prosecutor Robert Jackson and the American Judge Francis Biddle from a possible Soviet NKGB kidnapping.  In addition to that he is still hunting down and dismantling Odessa, an organization dedicated to helping Nazi war criminals escape to South America.  In trying to play nice he decides to work with the CIC, a counter agency to the DCI and enlists the help of Colonel Morty Cohen who also has another agenda.  He asks for Cronley’s help in getting to the bottom of a religious cult organized by SS Commander Heinrich Himmler. Griffin’s signature writing style is very evident as he blends humor, espionage, danger, and great characters in his latest novel.

Below is an interview with W.E.B. Griffin and his son William JR.

 

Elise Cooper:  This series delves into the beginnings of the Cold War?

William E. Butterworth IV (JR):  The Cold War is back.  President Trump speaks of not surrendering our sovereignty to foreign bureaucrats and that there should be a new era of competition to protect our national interest.  Now just as then we have rivals that are tough and tenacious, and we have to make sure we do not trust the Russians or Chinese.  Dad put in the last few books how no one wanted to believe that at the end of WWII the Russians were not our “allies” after they were our “allies.”  Behind the scenes they were working only for the Russians.  We hoped to show through our plots that Russia was and still is a “revisionist power” seeking to change the global status quo, rejecting cooperation in favor of competition. 

EC:  Can you explain what is meant by the 1000-year old reign?

JR:  The Nazis used the discontent of the German people who felt emasculated by the Treaty Of Versailles after losing WWI.  They promised a 1000-year old Third Reich.  They claimed the First Reich began with Charlemagne in 800 AD, ending in 1806 AD.  The Second Reich started in the early 1870s and ended with the conclusion of WWI.  The Third Reich was supposed to bring back Germanic power and pride. They removed political opponents, so called criminals, deviants, gypsies, Jews, Slavs, and the handicapped, those deemed to be sub-human.

EC:  Himmler started a religious cult, the Black Knights of the SS?

W.E.B. Griffin: Himmler was obsessed with the Nordic/German past and thought himself as divine.  He had the Wewelsburg Castle designated as his fortress that would display Nazi greatness and the ideological center of the SS. The German people were completely taken in by Hitler who gave them their pride back and convinced them they were superior to everyone else. It also became a collection place for what the Nazis stole from the occupied lands including famous paintings.  I hope readers understand through the story that it was a holy place that justified mass murder.  It was very real and very dangerous.  They wanted to own the world.

EC:  Throughout the book you show the true identity of the SS?

Griffin:  I mention Operation Phoenix where the Germans were willing to ransom Jews out of Concentration Camps. FDR allowed it to continue to save some from the ovens.  The SS were a bunch of gangsters as well as murderers, crooked to the core. President Truman was a genius for having the Nuremberg Trials because the Nazis were seen as criminals as well as killers.

EC:  A powerful quote in the books seems like it could have come from the German-born iconic actress Marlene Dietrich?

Griffin:  Marlene was a good person who supported our side against her own people. The quote, “Now when I think about my German blood, I’m a little ashamed about it.  That people ‘of my blood’ could do what the Nazis did.”  My mother’s maiden name is Gladys Schnable so I have some German blood.  This is how I feel.  When I was in Germany, in the US Army, shortly after the War, you couldn’t find anyone who was a Nazi even though about 90% of the population supported them. I went to the film vault to look at what happened in the Concentration Camps.  My boss, General White, came in and told me I should never forget.

EC:  Here in America is a statute of the poster boy for German nationalism.  Maybe that is a statue that should be destroyed?

Griffin: The statue is in New York City and is of Hermann der Cheruskerfurst.  It was put up around the turn of the century, and is called the Hermann Heights Monument.  Many Germans are named after him including Hermann Goring.  I am against taking statues down because they need to stay up for historical value to remind us what did happen. 

EC:  This series describes the turf wars between agencies of the DIA and CIC?

Griffin:  There were turf wars all the time.  Everyone wanted to protect their territory.  I put in the quote, “You spend as much time in turf warfare as you do in fighting the Red Menace.”  The beginning of the book explains how Truman disbanded the OSS.  Everyone fought over wanting to take that agency over and filling in the intelligence vacuum with their own agency. The CIC, the counter-intelligence Corp of the Army, the Navy, State Department, FBI, all wanted to take control and in the process tried to make a fool of Truman.  Basically, he thought, ‘screw this,’ and started the DCI, appointing Admiral Sidney Souers as its head. It morphed into the CIA.

EC:  What about Colonel Wallace, the nemesis of Captain Cronley?

Griffin:  Most of the upper military are interested in their careers.  My character Wallace represented these types. I wanted to show how ethics play an important role.  Are those involved more concerned about themselves, their agency, or their country?  The regular Army guys are patriots.  I would also include all the Generals in Trump’s staff as patriots. I think Wallace knew how to work around the bureaucracy, where his actions served him and not the country.  The bureaucracy is the cancer on society.

EC:  It appears there was fake news even then?

Griffin:  The AP reporter was Janice Johansen. She is based on the real-life war correspondent that covered the Cold War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, named Maggie Higgins. Instead of reporting that the American was kidnapped by the Russians and exchanged for a Russian we had, she said the exchange took place after both were arrested for being intoxicated. Other times she did not report the information until she received approval. 

JR:  During the Cold War, at the conclusion of WWII disinformation was put out.  It is wrong information that was sold as true.  It is basically subversive and is done on purpose.  Misinformation is where mistakes are made.  Janice agrees to write disinformation because she understands the security ramifications and knows that Cronley will feed her bigger stories before any other reporter.

EC:  Is German General Reinhard Gehlen a good guy or a bad guy?

Griffin:  He was a good guy.  During the War, he was a Lt-General, but was anti-Hitler from the beginning and was involved in multiple plots to kill Hitler.  After the War, he helped us with espionage against the Russians and became the German head of intelligence.  He even had agents in the Kremlin that tipped us that there were spies in the US Atomic Energy Program.

EC:  Can you give a heads up about your next book?

Griffin:  It continues the plotline about Himmler’s religion.  It will also continue to show how the Cold War began, and how it is important to get to know the enemy and try to con them.

THANK YOU!!


Book Review: Countdown

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.

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Countdown by Carey Baldwin is a story ripped from the headlines.  Juggling two professions, psychologist and pediatrician, has helped her with formulating different storylines.  This novel is a departure from her last one, and is much more of a fun read.  

The plot begins with what appears to be someone drowning on the beach of Tahiti.  Forensic psychiatrist Caitlyn Cassidy and FBI Agent Atticus Spenser are enjoying some R and R while preparing for their upcoming wedding. Unfortunately their best-laid plans go awry when they attempt to rescue the couple. They then become embroiled in a case that involves a con, dirty secrets and murder. After agreeing to help local law enforcement that seems to be overwhelmed, Cassidy and Spenser find that each clue of the investigation is nothing, as it seems. The story takes off with many twists and turns.

Although not a Christmas story, it is a light-hearted read with the emphasis on family.  During the holiday times more often than not people gather around to spend quality time with their loved ones.  This novel showcases both sides.  The supporting character Rose, has a large sense of duty towards family with a highly advanced sense of right and wrong. She is willing to make sacrifices to do right by her family.

Baldwin noted, “Rose’s driving force is an overdeveloped sense of conscience. All the motivations for the supporting characters is protecting someone in their family, including the police brothers.  The twins were searching for the ideal family when in reality they had a dysfunctional one.  Caity and Spenser had their moms and each other to contend with.”

This story is fun and adventurous with a happy ending for Caity and Spenser.  Readers will enjoy reading a book filled with action that is not always gloomy.


Book Review Touch Of Red and Cover Of Night

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. 51cV-46H9BL._SX303_BO1 204 203 200_

Touch Of Red and Cover Of Night by Laura Griffin have a plot with intricate suspense, and well-developed characters.  The intensity on the pages is prevalent in the story and with the character’s relationship.  Touch Of Red is part of the Tracer series and Cover Of Night is part of the SEAL series, but each can by read as a stand-alone.

Griffin noted, “The “Tracer Series” has the Delphi Crime Lab at the center, while the SEAL series has the Alpha Crew as the focal point.  You will see some overlap of characters, but each book has its own plot and a different couple.  Those highlighted in the past will come back for a cameo appearance where readers can see what they are doing now.”

Cover Of Night starts off with a bang when journalist Karly Bonham witnesses a terrorist attack in Thailand.  Sent on an assignment to interview the US Ambassador to Thailand she is packing up to leave and realizes Islamic Jihadists are taking the Ambassador and his daughter as hostages.  After receiving an SOS message from Karly, four members of the elite SEAL Alpha Crew team arrive to attempt a rescue. Karly inadvertently finds herself at the team’s insertion point, and insists on helping them by providing vital intelligence.  The action will come in waves, having the reader feel like it has a tsunami effect.

The author first became “interested after reading some autobiographical books written by SEALs.  I decided to have a SEAL character in the book, Beyond Limits, from my “Tracer Series.” I enjoyed writing about their missions, training, and teammates.  I was lucky enough to view the training area in Coronado, touring the base and speaking with some retired SEALs.  This allowed me to have a feel for the area of San Diego. This series is less about forensics and more of an action and adventure story. I hope this series showcases all the great things they do, since I have a ton of respect for them.”

Touch Of Red also has non-stop action.  It begins with the investigation of a violent, gruesome murder.  Delphi Center crime scene forensics expert Brooke Porter is gathering evidence to help detective Sean Byrne find the culprit.  Through her expertise she is able to determine that there was indeed an eyewitness, a child. Not only are Byrne and Porter brave, tough, and intelligent, they are heroic in their attempt to solve the crime. While working together they form a chemistry that becomes sizzling with Brooke the one who is independent and stubborn, while Sean is nurturing and sensitive.

Besides the murder mystery, Griffin also tackles a very relevant subject, harassment.  She wants readers to understand, “The person harassed does not necessarily have to be a ‘victim type,’ someone weak, helpless, and incapable.  Many see the warning signs, but do not listen to them.  It can happen to someone smart, opinionated, strong, and competent.  This is exactly what happened with Brooke.  At first, the signs are subtle such as someone trying to control their mate’s life with family and friends.”

Living in Texas, she saw first hand the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.  “My parents were impacted by the hurricane when they lost their house in the flood. Someone in a boat who they did not even know rescued my parents.  A lot of my close friends had to relocate.  The neighborhood where I grew up was flooded with water.  It has been a hard time for the city of Houston so when the Astros won the World Series it gave all of us a boost and was pretty awesome.  Some of the proceeds from Cover Of Night went to benefit Hurricane Harvey.”

Griffin is known for her fast-paced plots that are spellbinding and full of twists and turns.  She beautifully blends dry humor, a gripping mystery, and a sizzling romance, with plenty of action.