Not a Sound
Not A Sound follows Amelia Winn, who has lost her hearing after a hit-and-run accident. Not long after that, she lost her husband and stepdaughter due to her self-medicating with alcohol. Fast forward two years and she is finally getting back on her feet, owing largely to her service dog, Stitch. As she is paddling down the river near her home, she stumbles on the body of a woman she once called a friend before she alienated everyone after her accident. The resulting investigation reveals some disturbing things, and Amelia has to decide how far she’s willing to go to seek justice for her friend.
I thought this was a great read; the story line was fairly predictable but still fun. None of the characters were incredibly deep, but I didn’t feel like the book was lacking because of it. Overall, a fast, fun read that would be a great addition to any vacation or to have on your nightstand.
Park Row Books
A Patchwork of Old Spies
A drug trade operation appears to go awry and two undercover agents, Gunther and Heidi, head to Chipley Island. Zach and Jodie Warren, two of the fourteen retired espionage experts who call the island their home, are not too thrilled that the agents have chosen their haven for protection. Yet they, along with the remaining retired spies, get involved to piece together the truth behind Operation Seagull. There are way too many unrelated clues and a slew of red herrings, however, which call for intense problem solvinga time for Jodie to resurrect the program from her old Patches mission. But trying to figure out “how a South American drug business, a Far Eastern gang, and…a Russian op named Polaris,” fit together, for example, is far more complicated and extremely riskier than the retirees thinkespecially when they’re invaded.
With a slew of published works under her belt, Gini Andings latest espionage novel takes readers into the strange and mysterious world of retired spiesat least the ones on Chipley Island. Once again featuring husband and wife agents, Zach and Jodie, as principal characters (from A Case for Old Spies), Anding includes a large, but intricately designed, cast of retired spies and other colorful protagonists and antagonists set within the confines of a tight community. Of particular interest is the way Anding punctuates each character (spy or otherwise) with his/her detailed credentials in bold lettering throughout her third-person narrative. That writing style not only helps readers wrap their heads around Anding’s hefty cast, but also identifies how each character is related to the other in some fashion.
As Anding continues to introduce each cast member, she slowly, but deftly, unfolds her storyline. Key to plot building, Anding creates the most interesting character conversations. Intertwined with geopolitics and its behind-the-scene connections with intelligent activity, dialogues are filled with a combination of reality, bumbling lame comments, and ad nauseam yet hilarious statementsall compactly laced within black comedy and action-packed who’s-done-it, game-of-Clue-like adventure. In addition, Anding also keeps her narrative flowing by including cliffhangers at the close of chapters and a whole stream of unexpected scene changes.
There is no doubt in this reviewer’s mind that A Patchwork of Old Spies is one read that is truly an unforgettable one of its kind.
In a small Iowa town of Junction, Joey Sheeks, the town’s biggest drug dealer, is found naked and dead in the snow. Junction focuses largely on Zack Harmen as the beneficiary of Joey’s business, we learn about Zack’s life and those around him including his cousins. Another main focus in the book is newcomer Eric Marquez whom seems one step ahead of the law but no one seems to know who he is or where to find him, which is a huge annoyance for the local sheriff. As for the law makes in Junction, are they really as squeaky clean and law abiding as one would expect? Will this book series be another predictable bad cop versus drug ring set up? I guess you will just have to read it to find out!
In some areas, this book is quite predictable, however, this character driven thriller does give a stomach churning read. The author does well to take the reader through different timelines in different locations whilst keeping readers engaged with exciting and descriptive images. Some descriptions are a little too much for ones stomach to handle so be warned.
Like all great multi part stories Junction leaves the reader with questions unanswered and a few cliff hangers to contemplate. I personally found this book a little difficult to get into at first, the timelines felt a bit hodgepodge, as you started to immerse yourself in a character, you were sent whirling into another character, it made them difficult to understand. Once you get past that, readers will find the book very likeable and will understand where each person is coming from and how Joey’s death affects them in a deeper sense than originally realized.
The most off putting part of this book is the blacked out words throughout the whole book, it seems unnecessary to censor this book in such a way.
The Wallenstein Testament
Edmund Amesbury, the main character of The Wallenstein Testament, is quirky. It is difficult to determine if this is entirely due to memory loss he suffered as a result of a traumatic event when he was sixteen. Perhaps he always spoke in a vernacular more suited to a previous century, using Latin quotes that no one understands. He is interesting, to say the least.
Readers are taken on a journey with many twists and surprises as Edmund and a small group of accomplices set out to prove that he is the last descendant to Frances royal family. His primary source of help is Christy Shannon, an up-and-coming journalist who is writing an article about Edmunds cousin, Lester, who disappeared in San Francisco following some questionable business deals. Christy is spunky and energetic. She and Edmund could not be more different, yet each of them contributes vitally in the pursuit of Lester and the search for the Wallenstein Testament. Christy is able to ferret out information from sources unavailable to Edmund. On the other hand, Edmund has a few tricks up his sleeve that use the information to its greatest advantage.
Vibrant descriptions of characters and settings make it easier to overlook some less plausible scenarios, like a physician who gladly gives up HIPAA-protected information. The story moves forward at a fast pace, so much so that readers may not recognize some valuable clues that are peppered throughout. These details cleverly raise questions about the Wallenstein Testament and Lesters role in having Edmund confined to a mental institution for many years.
The Wallenstein Testament would make for great vacation or travel reading. It is entertaining, without requiring a large investment of time or energy by readers. Will there be a third installment to the Amesbury story that will advance Edmunds rightful place and explain how he arrives there? There are still some loose ends that could be tied up with a third installment and I think readers would be pleased to follow Edmund into the next stage of his life.
My first thought upon finishing Missing Mona was that it is well-tailored novel for those enthusiasts of crime drama novels. Readers outside of this genre may find themselves bored with the density of the book at times, but the story is nothing, if not engrossing. The bones of the plot were set up well: Tommy Cuda is a protagonist with almost nothing to lose, who goes out to rediscover himself, and the adventure he gets is a result of accidentally stumbling into an opportunity that was the consequence of being in the right place at the wrong time. Its the classic story of the inexperienced average Joe who gets swept up in a mystery more grand than he ever could have imagined. When Tommy decides to leave behind what he knows and heads toward Chicago, he picks up an attractive hitchhiker on the way who goes by the name of Mona, and she hires him as a private investigator in order to find someone for her. But theres a twist. When he wakes the next morning in the motel room where they had stayed for the night, all he has is a photograph of Mona with a message on the back that reads: Find Me Tommy M”.
A seemingly simple mystery, Missing Mona rather quickly turns into a complicated plot with strong political and monetary motives. Particularly as the unanswered questions start tying in together to paint the bigger picture of Tommy Cudas mysterious hitchhiker. The story gets convoluted at times, and I found that the overall timeline was not the easiest to follow. I lost track of how many days Tommy Cuda was actually in Chicago, and I think it was in reality a much shorter time frame than it felt while reading. That being said, the action was well-paced, which made for some exciting moments. I was definitely invested enough to want to find out where Klingler was driving this novel. And aside from a few minute inconsistencies, all major questions were addressed making the novel feel concluded.
Klinglers Chicago made me want to visit the city in Tommy Cudas world. It was exciting and gritty, and set up to be the perfect type of place for our protagonist to find some adventure. I think the character was able to live the life that epitomizes the notion of finding oneself. Tommy Cuda had beautiful girls, great music, an old car on the open road, and an enticing unsolvable mystery. I dont think he could have sought out a more drastic change from the monotony of the life he had.
A Season to Kill
Sheriff Holbrook of Macon, Pennsylvania has died suddenly and the town is distraught and wary that Deputy Chris DeAngelo can fill the enormous shoes Sheriff Holbrook has left behind. The rookie sheriff has been known to drink too much in public and discovers nearly the entire town, including the mayor, believes he is ill-equipped to handle his new position. Unprepared or not, Chris is about to be tested on his ability as sheriff.
Days after Sheriff Holbrooks funeral, simpleton Louella frantically rushes into Chris office claiming her boyfriend, Roger Sharperumored drug dealer, has gone missing. On top of Rogers disappearance, Chris believes the police department may have been misappropriating funds, but hes skeptical to believe that the respectable Sheriff Holbrook would be capable of embezzling. But, Jake Ranser, local newspaper reporter, piques Chris interest with a theory called, The Curse of December, that for the past eleven years each December a person goes missing, never to be seen or heard from again.
Throughout the investigation, Chris continues to have a nagging feeling that theres a larger picture and something is terribly wrong in the town of Macon, but his friends the Deerbusters (Phil, Michael, and Cindy) as theyve termed themselves, ease his anxieties of The Curse of December and sum up Jake Ranser as a nosy, pot-stirring reporter looking for a good story.
The prologue of Michael Muccis debut novel, A Season to Kill, immediately sets the tone for the entirety of the book, with a hunt ensuing in the woods, although the prey and hunter are both human. The story of an underdog was an overall easy read with well-developed characters and storyline. In this page-turning thriller, Michael Mucci will gratifyingly delight your senses, make you question conspiracy or coincidence, and intrigue your curiosity, while whetting the appetite for a chilling well told narrative. A Season to Kill left the reader championing the new sheriff in town.