Books

Book Review - "Blessed Are Those Who Weep" by Kristi Belcamino

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

9780062389404_p0_v5_s260x420Blessed Are Those Who Weep by Kristi Belcamino is an excellent crime novel.  From the very first page readers are grabbed with the storyline.  The theme is very relevant to real-life since it concentrates on when to let go.  There are multiple sub-plots that center around obsession:  a killer obsessed with obtaining his form of justice, and the main character obsessed with her personal life.

The book opens with San Francisco Bay Area reporter Gabriella Giovanni stumbling onto a horrific crime scene with only one survivor, a baby girl.  After experiencing this butchery she is determined to find the killer that made this helpless baby an orphan.  Being a crime reporter herself, the author shows how some reporter’s, as with some police, cannot let go of their cases. Did Gabriella cross the line by allowing herself to become too emotionally involved with the child? 

What makes this book special is the backstory of each character including the antagonist, and some personal issues that the everyday person can relate with. Gabriella is flawed and has realistic problems ranging from being passive-aggressive with her boyfriend, trying to cope with a miscarriage, obsessed with finding her sister’s killer as well as the murderer of the family she found. This complex character has a past that not only haunts her, but also defines much of her present life.

Because of a recent miscarriage Gabriella is in a vulnerable state and attempts to overcome it by becoming pregnant.  What is most interesting is how Belcamino shows that the father also is emotionally tied to the fetus.  Through Gabriella’s fiancé, Sean Donovan, readers understand that he also has feelings that should not be discarded.

The author explained how her personal experiences influenced the storyline, “I fell into writing with my first book in an effort to rid myself of the memory of this man, Curtis Dean Anderson who kidnapped and killed this young girl. I have spoken on the phone with the mother who has two other children about how we can never be normal parents. Both of us spent countless hours in a dark visiting room talking to this predator in an attempt to get him to reveal his crimes. As the mother of two small little girls, I was especially haunted by all of the horrible things he had told me. By writing the book, I was essentially engaging in a form of self-administered therapy, and purging him out of my head. Getting it all out of my head and on paper did help.”

Donovan is an Irish police detective who tries to help Gabriella out of her emotional abyss.  He is good looking, kind, caring, and considerate.  In this plot he does not take an active role in the investigation, but is front and center in the relationship storyline. 

The antagonist is also someone who suffers since he saw some horrific things while serving in Iraq shortly after 9/11.  Through his experiences readers begin to understand that many in the US military risk their lives while getting little support after returning home.  Within the plot line is a discussion of military suicides and what is being done about it. 

Belcamino commented to blackfive.net, “Several of my family members are active duty.  I worry about them and the support they are getting.  I do not think there is enough support for them when they come home.  I hope to show the effects they are experiencing since I am not sure people are aware of it.  I want to encourage more awareness.”

Blessed Are Those Who Weep is a story dealing with betrayal, manipulation, cover-up, and obsession.  It has a gripping plot and believable characters.  Although many social issues are discussed it is done through a riveting action packed story.  The intensity begins with the very first page and does not let up.


On The Hugo Awards...

For those here who are into books, you may be interested in the rapidly devolving firestorm surrounding this year's Hugo's.  Short version is that the Waffen Social Justice Warriors brigade is up in arms and having a massive case of the vapors over this year's nominations.  So much so they are threatening to nuke the award and make it totally irrelevant.  In the process, they've told myself and others that we are not real fans of science fiction and fantasy.  Elsewhere, I've suggested that we are "Franks" and probably need to do a post on that.  Meantime, over at my place, I've got my response to being told I'm not a real fan (or author) that you may enjoy.  

Oh, part of the vapors come from the fact that Tom Kratman, Michael Z. Williamson, and other such evil-right-wing-cisgender-homophobic-racist-slur-of-the-moment veterans were nominated.  There are a number of long overdue nominations this year.  To ALL those nominated this year, my sincere and full congratulations!  

Also, Larry has posted an excellent open letter to the neutral and other parties out there, that also includes some good links to the history of what is going on.  I agree with and endorse what he has said, and say to him "Bravo!"  Know this is inside baseball to many, but for those who love good books and good writing, it is something to which you DO need to pay some attention.  


Book Review - "One Mile Under" by Andrew Gross

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

9780062196385_p0_v4_s260x420One Mile Under by Andrew Gross is a thriller and mystery all rolled into one with the long-awaited return of Ty Hauck.  On the surface it is a murder mystery, a “who done it,” but there is also the interesting aspects of energy independence. The plot will remind readers of Old West stories when farmers battled over land rights.  As with most of Gross’ books there is the feature of how someone’s life can change in a brief moment.

The plot pits farmers against an energy company supporting fracking that needs the town’s water rights.  But there is more to this struggle when Colorado whitewater guide Dani Whalen finds a dear friend, Trey Watkin, dead.  After that her life changes from enduring the dangers of nature to avoiding dangerous men.  Although his death is ruled an accident she believes it to be murder.  Getting nowhere with the local police chief, Wade Dunn, who also happens to be her ex-stepfather, she threatens to make her suspicions public.  This is when Ty, wearing his white hat, comes into the story since Dani is like an adopted daughter.  He does not hesitate to get involved to find the killers.  The suspense ratchets up from here as Dani and Ty risk their lives to pursue justice.

Readers will be taken on a journey, feeling a part of the different scenes as they whitewash down the rapids with Dani, take a hot air balloon ride, and consider the positive and negative points of fracking.  The culprit is not energy companies, but individual bad guys who are consumed by greed and power. 

Gross commented to blackfive.net, “I did a lot of research regarding the technology and resulting environmental impact.  If I had to take sides I would be for it, with environmental oversight. We must consider the long-term strategic goal of energy independence, which outweighs the environmental risks.  I tried to present this within an action packed story. People in Colorado were comfortable and saw the energy companies as being good citizens.”

The supporting character, Dani, stole the show.  She is smart, pretty, funny, and has a take no prisoner attitude.  Gross is able to make her a very sympathetic character through her vulnerability.  On the other hand, Wade Dunn is a character that seems to have lost his soul.  While charming on the outside he is weak-minded, and over steps the line by not doing what’s right.  He appears to be a self-destructive person. 

Gross based “Dani on a Wyoming white-rafting guide for my family. She was self-reliant and totally in control.  I had this infatuation with her because she was tough as nails.  I always wanted to write her as a character.  But in this book I must say that I enjoyed writing Wade more than anyone else.  I also wrote in a wounded soldier because I wanted to give back to the military since I was someone who grew up during the Viet Nam War.  I wanted to create someone who would elicit overpowering compassion and respect.”

One Mile Under is an informative and thrilling story.  Its’ characters are well developed and its plot, with its many twists and turns, are suspenseful and creative.

The author gave a heads up about his next book, which will be more of a historical novel.  Gross examines his Jewish roots as he based a character in the book on his father-in-law.  He left Poland before the start of WWII and later found out his entire family did not survive.  The theme of the book will include how to handle grief and survivor’s guilt.


Book Review - Rescue at Los Baños: The Most Daring Prison Camp Raid of World War II

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

9780062325082_p0_v3_s260x420Bruce Henderson has written a gripping detailed account, Rescue At Los Banos. It details how the American military daringly raided the camp rescuing over two thousand civilian prisoners, many of whom were from the United States. In February 1945 the 11th Airborne risked their lives to save the civilians that included men, women, and children captured by the Japanese in the Philippines. 

The plot explains the atrocities from the victim’s point of view. The guards’ brutal behavior towards the prisoners was directed by the merciless and cruel camp commandant, Sadaaki Konishi. Meager food rations were reduced to the point of starvation, even though there was plenty of food available, since the camp itself was located in an area of great agricultural productivity. As the Japanese began losing the war the mistreatment of the prisoners grew proportionally.  In fact, many of the internees after the rescue looked like Holocaust victims, meager skeletons.

Henderson commented to blackfive.net, “many of the abuses of the Japanese guards and camp commanders are systemic.  They were raised in a very strict militaristic society.  Konishi was basically a sadistic person who had a deep hatred for Westerners.  It was if he made it his personal crusade to mistreat the civilians.  He was known for saying to the prisoners, ‘you will be eating dirt before I am done with you.’”

After General Douglas MacArthur became aware of the camp conditions he assigned the 11th Airborne Division a dangerous rescue mission of going deep behind enemy lines. It was a deadly race against the clock since many feared that the ditches the Japanese were digging would be used to bury the prisoners alive. The author noted, “This assignment from MacArthur required the coordination of a three-pronged attack of deploying troops by air, land, and sea. It had to be carried out in darkness, with a Japanese infantry division, ten thousand strong, lurking just down the road. The odds against success were steep and the risks were enormous, but the young American paratroopers and Filipino guerrillas responded with unparalleled courage in their heroic efforts to save the prisoners. The rescue was run like clockwork. It was as if Murphy’s Law was suspended for twenty-four hours. Everything came together with the key being the actionable intelligence gained.”

Besides giving a detailed account of the mission the author uses personal interviews, diaries, correspondence, memoirs, and archival research to explain the prisoner’s life and attitude at the camp: their selflessness with regard to other prisoners, and the courage displayed in overcoming hardship, deprivation, and cruelty. Henderson thinks the stories of heroism should be highlighted, since it is important to understand “how people react in the face of danger and adversity.  How they are able to persevere with self courage and sacrifice." 

In the book Rescue At Los Banos Bruce Henderson is able to bring to the forefront one of the most daring raids in military history.  It is a must read because it shows how good succeeded over evil.


Book Review - "The Darkest Hour", An Alternate History of the Occupation of Great Britain

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

9780062339379_p0_v4_s260x420The Darkest Hour, Tony Schumacher’s debut novel, has a very intriguing storyline.  It can be considered an alternate history of sorts that questions morality.  Through the character’s eyes readers examine if it is even possible to redeem oneself after committing terrible acts. ? What makes this novel very interesting is how the author creates an action-packed plot while still exploring the questions, such as: Could the British people become like the Nazis, and what doors would someone open to survive?

The author told blackfive.net he drew the idea “from a documentary on television. It showed a photograph from the Second World War of an English policeman in the Channel Islands, just off the coast of France, occupied by the Germans. This policeman was holding a car door open for a German officer, where both he and the German officer were smiling. It was a propaganda picture taken by the Germans to show they weren't such bad guys. When I saw the photo, I was momentarily angry with the policeman. I'd been a policeman for ten years, and to me, this officer had disgraced the uniform. But almost immediately, I realized I couldn't think like that. This guy was probably told 'Open that door and smile. If you don't, you'll get shot. So, open the door.' And to stay alive, he'd done what he was told to do. After all, he might have a family at home and wanted to live. So I began wondering what I would have done in that circumstance. Once you cross that line, it begins to recede. Each time you're told to do something abhorrent, that line moves back a bit more. You compromise your values, your integrity. And you have to weigh how much you want to stay alive against doing something you find despicable.”

The plot begins with Germany controlling Western Europe after a pact is signed in 1946.  The Germans are occupying Great Britain using brutality, fear, and consensus to control the English. The main character is John Rossett, who won the Victoria Cross for rescuing his fellow soldiers from Dunkirk. After the war he returns home to find his wife and son killed by a bomb that was meant for the German authorities.  He is chosen to work in the Office of Jewish Affairs, whose duty is to hunt down and round up the Jews for deportation.  He attempts to fool himself into believing that they are sent to France as laborers, never questioning, and willingly believing the propaganda.  He goes along to get along until he finds Jacob, the grandson of someone he knew.  Determined to find redemption and to find a purpose to his life he decides to save this one boy who “deserved the chance of life and love.” Trying to help Jacob escape to America Rossett must battle the resistance and the Nazis who have their own agenda for wanting Jacob dead. During this portion of the story the novel becomes a thriller with non-stop action as well as many twists and turns.

At times emotions vary from liking and rooting for certain characters to utter distaste of them.  The author skillfully never allows the reader to forget that, although Rossett, is a redeemable hero, he has a sullied past. Does one good action nullify the previous bad ones? This hero is a complex character who is emotionally damaged and attempts to save his soul by offering Jacob a future, turning from an evil person who assisted in the dirty work, to becoming a caring rescuer. Rossett is contrasted with SS Officer Ernst Koehler who on the surface is very likeable, but in reality is a devil in disguise that inwardly cares little about human life.

Tony noted, “A number of scenes had Jacob taking John Henry Rossett’s hand.  The readers know it is “dirty,” but Jacob believes John will do the right thing by him.  I get the sense readers wanted to hate John, but didn’t because of Jacob’s view of him.  Jacob becomes Rossett’s guardian angel giving him some of his soul back, forcing him to explore within himself. Although Jacob is a character who does not speak a lot in the book, he is a thread through the whole story.  Jacob made John recognize and confront that monster inside of himself.  John carried a lot of guilt and was tortured by his own actions of doing nothing. On the other hand the German SS Officer, Koehler, had people like him on the surface.  They thought of him as charming, but in reality he is a killer, a nightmare.”

The Darkest Hour is the first in a series of books about the “German occupation of England.”  Throughout the thrilling storyline is a moralistic thread.  Readers should not question, “what if this did happen,’ but ‘could it happen today,’ considering the rising anti-Semitism.  This book is a page-turner with engaging characters, plot twists, and a very intelligent storyline that is thought provoking.


Book Review - Military Thriller "Empire Rising" by Rick Campbell

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

9781250040466_p0_v1_s260x420Empire Rising by Rick Campbell is a riveting military thriller.  He uses his personal experience as a retired Navy Commander to write an authentic story regarding submarine warfare. This novel is written in such a way that those who want a gripping story will enjoy it as well as those who want to know about the latest weapon systems.  There is a great balance between a good plot, well-developed characters, and a discussion of different weapons.

Campbell explained to blackfive.net, “I made a conscious decision to balance the level of detail with the most crucial aspect of a thriller, the pace.  Many times having to stop and explain a weapons system comes at the expense of the pacing.  All the weapons are realistic, but I did give China some long-range missile capabilities.  Because some of the material is classified some of the scenes in the book are tweaked regarding the weapon capabilities.  However, I did try to keep everything in the realm of possibility.”

This second book in the series brings back the main character of national security advisor Christine O’Connor.  She advises the US President not to sign the Mutual Access to Environmental Resources accord.  Realizing that the US and the Pacific Rim nations will have the availability to dwindling oil reserves, she fears China will be cut off from present and future production, derailing its economic growth and prosperity.  Christine’s fears become a reality when an all-out naval war with China begins after they invade both Taiwan and Japan. 

There are many comparisons to World War II when Japan also went to war over natural resources and had the upper hand in the initial battles.  Campbell takes the reader on a roller coaster ride as China attempts to neutralize America’s Pacific Fleet through cyber warfare, jamming satellites, and infecting weapon systems with malware.  With intense submarine battles it feels as if you are there, playing the cat and mouse games as submarines engage with surface ships. 

The author hopes to show in his books how the leaders of nation states are put in positions where they must either accept the consequences or take action.  In the beginning of Empire Rising he does not make China pure evil, although, the same cannot be said by the end of the book. 

As with the first book, Christine O’ Connor ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time.  This recurring theme has her playing a leading role as the storyline progresses.  What makes this interesting is that the author through Christine’s eyes, a civilian, can explain different military aspects from her perspective. She is seen as someone who is strong-willed, determined, tenacious, committed to the task, and at times vindictive. 

Empire Rising is a warning of sorts, a ‘what could happen’ if China does gain the upper hand in cyber warfare.  In the spirit of Dale Brown and Tom Clancy this novel is a spellbinding story that never runs out of action scenes.  It also has characters that are intriguing and captivating.

Campbell gave a heads up about his next book, whose working title is Cold Betrayal.  It involves a collision between the newest American fast attack submarine and one of Russia’s new ballistic missile submarines. As life support systems begin to fail, the United States and Russia rush to the aid of their crews. Both sides realize that whoever reaches the sunken ships first will be able to board the other country’s submarine, harvesting the latest weapon and tactical systems technology.


Book Review - "The Stolen Ones" by Owen Laukkanen

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

9780399165535_p0_v1_s260x420The Stolen Ones by Owen Laukkanen is an insightful look at morality and greed.  As a police procedural it combines an action packed plot with societal issues that do not get a lot of attention. Human trafficking is explored as the joint Minnesota BCA-FBI task force attempts to track down the girls and uncover those behind the operation.

The main characters, BCA agent Kirk Stevens, and FBI agent Carla Windermore return in this thrilling plot.  After a sheriff’s deputy is shot dead, local authorities take into custody a person of interest, a hysterical young woman who has no ID and speaks very little English.  The task force finds out that this mystery woman, Irina, is from Romania where she was seduced to come to America with promises of a glamorous career.  Instead, she and her sister become part of a sex trafficking ring and are forced to travel across the ocean in a cargo container.  Stevens and Windermore team up once again in a nationwide chase to save the girls and capture the culprits, uncovering multiple layers of horror.   

Besides the riveting plot Laukkanen delves into the inter-personal relationships of the main characters.  He has Windermore hooking up with a subordinate agent Derek Mathers.  Unfortunately, Mathers appears to be submissive not only professionally but also personally.  While Windermore is ambitious and strong-willed, Mathers appears to be weak and obedient.  This might work in their professional relationship but after hours he still seems to be “mothered” by Windermore.  Stevens on the other hand is a family man who dearly loves his lawyer wife who at times helps him with the case.  With this family relationship there is a level of realism. 

Laukkanen told blackfive.net, “I brought Derek into the picture to head off the ‘will they, won’t they’ with Stevens and Windermore. Yet, I wanted to keep them together as partners so I created the task force.  I did not want to strain credibility that these two always happen to be falling into cases together.  I like how these two characters interact, but because Stevens is married I did not want to allow them to have a personal relationship.  As partners they are humorous and complement each other.  Sevens is dull who does things by the book while Windermore is hotheaded and rash.  Although she has a partner professionally I am finding it hard to give her a decent partner personally, someone who is her equal and extraordinary.  Maybe Derek will evolve and mature while I am hoping to show that Windermore is more vulnerable.”

The Stolen Ones is intense and faced-paced with an intriguing storyline.  It is thought provoking and raises the question of how anyone can treat another human being so horribly, and their willingness to sell their soul to make money by any means possible. 

The author also gave a heads up about his next book, which has a very dark plot.   It is based on a true story where an online predator preys on depressed teenagers.  He goes to websites where people discuss their suicidal thoughts and encourages them to do it while he watches.  


Book Review - "Endangered" by CJ Box

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

9780698184435_p0_v1_s260x420Endangered, the latest Joe Pickett novel by C. J. Box is the best yet of the series.  There are all the right ingredients: a realistic plot, well developed characters, a vivid setting, clear prose and ratcheting tension. Box merges detailed descriptions of Wyoming’s landscape, western culture, and the personal drama regarding Pickett’s family into a thrilling action packed novel.

There are three storylines that appear autonomous, but at the end are weaved together brilliantly. The first is related to environmental issues and government overreach.  Box made it very clear what could happen to a state’s economy when the Federal Government decides to put a bird, in this case the sage grouse, on the endangered species list.  Besides having to deal with a personal tragedy Joe must outwit the Federal Bureau of Land Management, officials of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The tragedy is the second storyline involving Pickett’s adopted daughter April.  After running away with the local bad boy/rodeo cowboy Dallas Cates several months ago, she is found beaten horrifically in a ditch along the Wyoming highway.  Joe suspects Dallas Cates but he and law enforcement are thrown roadblocks by the Cates family, including the mother who is manipulative and cunning.  Box superbly writes how Joe must tread the fine line between being a father and a law enforcement officer. This storyline is relatable to any parent, especially with the quote, “a parent’s worst nightmare.”

Box explained to blackfive.net, “This is the first time in the series where one of Joe’s daughters is severely injured in a very violent way.  I wanted parents to understand the tension Joe must go through when receiving the phone call. I know what my reaction would be. Like Gabby Giffords April had a medically induced coma.  I had a doctor give me their opinion on how to write these scenes.  People are put in a coma until the brain swelling goes down. Sometimes they fully recover and other times they could have brain damage.  Readers will find out what happens by the end of the book.”

The last sub-plot has a cameo appearance by Falconer, Nate Romanowski.  He is forced to cooperate with the FBI, being used as bait to catch the billionaire gun for hire Wolfgang Templeton.  But this storyline involves more of Nate’s girlfriend Liv Brannan who is being held captive by the Cates family after Nate is critically shot. As these sub-plots intertwine it becomes obvious Joe is intent on finding the truth behind the killings of the birds, the attempted murder of Nate, the beating of April, and the disappearance of Liv. 

The general theme of the book is a Libertarian’s dream, the overreach of the Federal Government.  These few quotes from the book hammer the point home: “We can do whatever we want, we’re Government,” “That’s why I hate explaining a business plan to a bureaucrat who’s never worked in the private sector in his life,” and “Nobody in a federal agency ever gets fired.” Of course what comes to mind are the numerous scandals of the Obama Administration. 

Box noted, “The state’s rights versus the federal government fuels many of my Pickett novels. Think about how much of the western states lands are controlled by the federal government.  For example, 50% of Wyoming is federal land so this state really does not have autonomy.  There is a movement going on that has started in Utah where the state legislatures are demanding the Federal government sell their land back. The quotes came out of my personal experiences with some government employees who have the attitude that they can do anything and never have to worry about losing their job.  They start to think of themselves as officials instead of what they truly are, servants of the people.  This attitude runs amuck now.  I wanted to show how a bad egg, maybe someone with a chip on their shoulder, who works for the Federal Government can make life hell for someone else.” 

Endangered is a great read that is fast-paced, suspenseful, and action-packed.  Within the storyline readers can get a glimpse of important issues that relate to the current day as they take a journey along with the characters.  A word of warning, make some time to read this novel in one setting because no one will want to put it down.

C. J. Box also gave a shout out about his up and coming books. The next Joe Pickett novel will be centered on Nate Romanowski and his attempt to free himself from the FBI’s control while reuniting with Joe.  Another book, out this summer, Badlands, features a character, Cassie, from the last stand-alone novel, The Highway.  It takes place in North Dakota’s oil fields and is described as a “modern Wild West,” that includes the drug trade


Book Review - "Past Crimes"

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

9780062344557_p0_v1_s260x420Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton is his debut novel starring Army Ranger Van Shaw.  It is a book about family and forgiveness, and how circumstances can affect the interaction between people as they embrace and reject their past.  Within that story is an action-packed plot that looks at the different aspects of crime.

Donovan, “Dono,” Shaw, Van’s estranged grandfather, raised him to become a thief, following in his footsteps.  Having had enough of the criminal world, Van exiled himself, abandoning his illicit past, by joining the army.  Van, an Army Ranger returns home to Seattle after ten years in response to a terse message from his grandfather.  After arriving home he discovers Dono was shot and left for dead.  Van becomes the prime suspect and is drawn back into the criminal underworld of his youth as he hunts for the shooter with the help of his grandfather’s peers. 

The author gives a shout out to those in the military.  Van enjoys being a Ranger because it has given him a sense of duty.  He was injured in Iraq when his unit was ambushed.  He received his facial “tribal marks” from pieces of shrapnel that took off part of his cheekbone.  After recovering he knew he had to “get back on the horse” and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.  Being a warrior has given Van a different perspective on life.

Hamilton commented to blackfive.net, “A good friend of mine was in the Special Forces.  To fast check information in the book, I spoke to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.  I wanted to make sure that Van’s formidable years were spent as a warrior since he entered the army at age eighteen.  The reason I made Van a Ranger is that they are all about knocking down doors and direct action.” 

Readers instantly like Van for being loyal, tough-minded, and independent, traits inherited from his grandfather.  Actually all the protagonists in this story have very similar traits.  The main female character, Luce, also has these qualities.  Hamilton explores how each of the three main characters deals with the issue of crime.  Dono has a contentious relationship with Van because of Van’s desire to escape his criminal youth, removing himself from the temptation.  While Luce, whose grandfather was Dono’s partner, responded to her criminal surroundings by staying in Seattle to confront it head on through embracing the straight and narrow.

The author noted, “Van has matured during the years he’s been in the Army.  He may not completely forgive or even understand his grandfather, but he also knows that he’s not blameless himself.  The two men are much more alike than either of them realize, in their faults and their loyalties. .  Van had completely bought in to the criminal life as a teenager.  When he left it, he left everything from his youth along with it.  Yet, Van knows family is important to Dono as he raised him from the age of six.  Van and his grandfather have a complicated relationship where they love each other but it was hardly ever expressed in words.” 

Past Crimes is edgy and suspenseful. It will be interesting to see what Hamilton has in store for the main characters as the series moves along.  If this first novel is any indication Van and company will be pitted into action-packed emotional story-lines with many twists and turns.

In the next book Hamilton hopes to explore how Van will establish himself in the civilian world, using the skills learned from being a Ranger.  He will also continue the relationship with Luce as he struggles to bring justice to those he knew from his past.