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September 2016

Book Review: Ring Of Lies by Roni Dunevich

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOK REVIEW: Downfall by J. A. Jance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOLO & Be Careful Out There!

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



Updated with additional photos.  

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Debt To Pay by Reed Colemen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review Danger Close by Amber Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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