Thursday, August 16, 2018

Murder in Germantown! Street Lit at Its Finest - By Raheim Brooks

If you are not familiar with Street/Urban Fiction, and don't want to learn, in
my opinion you should return a book and not give a review... I found Brooks' book one of the best I've read in the genre and is well worth your consideration! If you want to begin learning about Ebonics, I recommend The Magic Pencil by Karen E. Dabney. In my opinion, it is a must-read for every child living in America...and I also recommended it on Amazon to those who gave this book a low rating... Of course, this is just my personal well as one who wants to provide a professional review of what she reads... You decide... Note that one of the sentences pointed out on Amazon was one that I simply loved... To me, it flows with rhythm, specific relevant adjectives, and a play on police issues of today... dare I say with a little sarcasm to match... Anyway...

He was never without the Burberry trench, sneer, ethics stamped on his yellowish forehead, or adroit police impracticalities glued to his aura. He had deep eyes that were slanted. Not Asian slanted, but African American slanted. In the Germantown neighborhood where he had grown up, he had been given the street moniker, China.

Sometimes, my criminals are likable, but oftentimes they’re not. The current one I hated, but I represented him (and his money) without prejudice. His name, Mark Artis. 
I was interested in Artis’ trial verdict. More than the norm. He was an alleged con man and believed to be a serious threat to the Department of Commerce. I doubted that, and my investigators found evidence to prove me correct. But hey, I was bound by attorney-client privilege so I kept those details quiet. I credit my investigators because I actually did more than try one case per year. I did not suffer from the boredom of the unfolding discoveries of one case for months at a time.
I am busy on the Philadelphia criminal judicial circuit, and on the tip of every criminal’s tongue in the Federal Detention Center (FDC) in Philadelphia and in the Philadelphia Prison Systems. It was not the same as being chased down by paparazzi, but.... I could not report to every crime scene, interview every witness, or verify every alibi for all of the clients. I multi-task. So big ups to my detectives. 
The police have theirs and I have mine. I just defended Artis in a trial on the 9th floor of the United States Courthouse at 601 Market Street. The jury deliberated for two days and requested the transcripts of the government’s key witness: Tanya “Jewel” Stalin (Russian, but no relation to the communist). Too bad the jury could not have her transcripts, and had to rely on their memories. I managed to get them the police reports and notes to compare to her testimony, though. I imagined they believe her to be a vicious liar—she was—and I had brought out her lies. Called her a terrorist, too. Yes, I was way out of line, but hey, an acquittal was acquired by any means necessary.
The jury had a verdict, and I had to wait for them to deliver it. At 9:30, Artis had found me perched at the defense table. I had known I would be in the courtroom holding my breath, so I had downloaded the sports news on Carmelo Anthony returning from his famous 15-day suspension. He would join the recently-acquired Allen Iverson with the Denver Nuggets. 
I did not have to see Artis approaching me. The heels of his loafers crashed the hardwood and his handcuffs echoed. The unarmed Marshal sat him next to me.
“It does not take a rocket scientist to find me not guilty of all charges.” He proclaimed. “No prints or DNA of mine was found at the scene. Their whole case hinged on the testimony of a sleazy coke whore who would have sold her mother out. The jury is taking long.  Does that mean anything?”
“What do you mean?” I asked with a subtle hint of sardonicism.  What happened to a good morning pleasantry? This was one of the reasons I knew he had not played the federal agents. He had no class. Or grace. Mark, or whatever his real name was, had proven himself to be a pompous, self-centered bastard. I thought I needed my black ass fanned and fed grapes like royalty considering no Philadelphia tri-state area barrister wanted to touch him. 
I defended him. Offered my Harvard Law bookishness and sound experience to the noodle despite my disgust at how he allegedly devastated the government designed to protect moi. “Could they be wrestling with finding me guilty?”
What the hell did he think? Yes, they were. Guilty or Not Guilty? That was the question. 
“Mark,” I replied. “The length of time they deliberate means nothing. My best conjecture says they are worried about Jewel’s testimony.” 
“Ravonne, she botched a kidnapping after she had already gotten away with five others, and when the FBI swooped in on her for the mastermind, she fingered me. We had a one-night stand and my voice....” He paused and looked into the air. “My goddamn voice sounded like the man that had hired her. She should be on trial alone!” 
“Mark, please! I know the facts.”  It was my way of screaming shut the fuck up. After the comment, I studied him for a second. I checked for a sign that he was upset. He had a cold stare, but I stared back. I won the stare down and had no fear of him firing me. 
“So, you wanna hear about my date last night?” Mark asked me as if I desired to relive some bimbo flashing him her boobs outside the FDC cell window overlooking Arch Street.  
Picayunish should’ve been his last name.  I stayed up countless nights constructing a solid defense, and he did nothing but eat commissary, watch Sports Center, see enough flesh to play with his wiener, and had the audacity to think I wanted to hear about it. 
It was not easy to restrain my position, but I reduced my reply to, “Mr. Artis.”  I stopped and breathed deeply. He hated the nom de guerre and was adamant it was not his.  I continued with, “I am on trial for my life. So, no, I do not care to relish your twenty-five cent booth experience.” 
“On trial for your life?” he asked and paused. “Since when?”  Marky-Pooh’s words dripped with disgust. Jewel’s pet name for him, not mine.
“I will be further ostracized from practicing law in Philadelphia if I lose this case. And that is my life,” I said candidly. “Even if I obtain an acquittal, I’ll be the attorney who freed a con artist and duped the US out of $200,000, not including trial expenses.” 
Refreshing.  I had upset my client and then left him at the defense table. I walked to the window and peered down at the Mark Artis Circus taking place out on Market Street. The press had wanted the verdict. I was not usually perturbed by my clients, but there was a time when sound seriousness was mandatory. Being inside of a courtroom staring stoically down the barrel of a life sentence was a qualifier.

The author, in an interview, suggested that readers would either love or hate his new main character, Ravonne Lemmelle. What I felt was admiration for the character himself. For the author, I thought he created a strong character that told things like they were, believing in nobody but the law and his own desire to win--within the limits of the law. I wouldn't say I love him, but I believe he would make a perfect series character. Lemmelle is introduced in Murder in Germantown. The fact that he chose defense law was an interesting choice, I think...but then, the author writes in first person and also shares Ravonne's inner thoughts. I found this amusing and it added a depth to the character that you don't always learn about... Here's one comment I loved: I had been accused of being a twenty-dollar word showoff. I read every night and I asked Mr. Webster to define any foreign wordage. My adjective and adverb coffer was corpulent. See what I mean.
At the same time, Brooks does indeed create a number of significant, memorable characters that creates a flavor unique to the genre as well as the story itself. His movement from one specific character to another is easily discovered since each has been drawn with a personality that sometimes shocks, but then delights as readers begin to sink into the novel...

Although Leslie Jones started out as a comedienne, I could see her playing the role of Jewel, a kidnapper who takes wives of men for ransom...

"The name is Jewel."
 "Okay, Jewel. Why am I here?" he asked getting down to business. She stood and threw him a sardonic grin.  "Here's the deal," she said and then added, "your wife Samantha has been kidnapped."
"No! No! No!" He barked.  It was more of a scream than a masculine yell. Mark began to rise from the floor and Jewel flashed a chrome Colt .45. 
Mark thought long and hard about getting up off the floor. Hopefully, Sue was recording all of that. The thug had activated the hand set when the ear piece had lost signal. "It's 10:30 in the morning, Mark Artis. I shall have 200,000 unmarked, non-sequential, American dollars in my possession by the close of the banking business day. That's traditionally three p.m. And I adore tradition, Mark." 
"I do not have that kind of cash," he warned her earnestly.
 "Then you no longer have a wife!"

I saw Dule Hill on Suits last night and thought he makes a cool-looking lawyer, but it was in his performance on Psych and his dry humor that made me think he'd play a perfect Ravonne...

I then sat back down at the defense table and put on my smart pince-nez. They made me look fussy and intellectual. 
A man passionate about my craft of criminal defense.
I was!
 I whispered to Mark to behave when the verdict was read. Reporters rushed in to fill the available seats. The judge hit the bench with the jury in tow. They looked forlorn. Shameful. My mind immediately began to ponder errors and plot appeal strategies. 
I doubted if I would represent Mark in the appeals process because I was aware that he would conjure a reason I, Ravonne Lemmelle, was ineffective. Yes, that was the number one appeals ground, and Mark would desperately want to get back to the streets if he was found guilty, so he would try to make me the fall guy. It was highly doubtful that would work out for him...

The thing was, however, that Ravonne had unexpectedly gotten Mark Artis off...And that was not the plan... Now everything changed... Mr. 357 now appeared... One of my favorite character actors, Sam Jackson, seem to fit this villain...

Mr. 357 was his moniker. Mr. 357 was one gargantuan tandem of mystery, suspense, thriller, and a dose of comedy. He believed the FBI caper was comical. A parody. The joke was on...
 ...Who cared? 
He was by no definition invincible. He did strive for intelligent crimes, though, which helped him thwart arrest. His crimes were plotted with droplets of sex, brilliant gun play, and Hollywood pandemonium. A web site—— was devoted to theorists, propaganda weavers, and conspiracy mongers regarding his identity. He was as famous as Deep Throat. He was fortunate. He was also a slick bastard who mailed bodies to the local FBI, Interpol, and Scotland Yard at his discretion.

Mr. 357's plan had been spoiled... He had gotten off and it was payback time... And Ravonne was picked to play a part in this important plot! This time he would become Skylar Juday. He looked forward to Act 1...

Ravonne's Ex, Ariel, came to stay...she needed a husband now... But Ravonne wasn't even willing to talk unless she spent time with their son... Of course, that would also present problems since he was quite happily involved in a gay relationship with Dajuan Jones, a popular singer... And he realized there would always be a place in his heart for Ariel--heartbreak!

I was not going to allow her to eat me alive, so I popped in TP3 (12-Play Part 3 by R. Kelly for all of the R&B remedial) and commenced a lonely drive to nowhere.

I had Beyonce's Irreplaceable booming as Dajuan walked in. I pretended not to see him and continued to sing the break up track. Dajuan's smooth and creamy peanut butter complexion glowed. His curly, close-cropped hair was disheveled and his bushy eyebrows rivaled Einstein's. He sat with his exposed six-pack on the love seat and hid his deep brown eyes in the palm of his hands.

It may be obvious by now that this book was character-driven for me and I enjoyed them all. I also enjoyed Brooks' writing style moving from character in character for street language, at the same time Ravonne and others went through the legalese for a legal case.  I hadn't yet mentioned the murder... The first shot was intended for somebody else, but a young boy was shot, Quincy James, by accident! It was the third recent shooting and with Quincy being a well-known popular student, there was bound to be trouble... The police needed to get on this immediately...

The book is complex, especially with Mr. 357 in his various roles, so readers will need to be alert. I had no problem since I was hooked by the first chapter and moving strong into the story when the ending was coming... Even with some things actually taking place within the story as readers are reading, still you will not have a clue as to what is coming...and...the action is just beginning. Got to say, I loved the book and hope to see Ravonne again soon! Highly recommended!


An accomplished literary executive with 8+ years leadership experience and a flair for social media marketing and public relations.
Additionally, I have worked on the following freelance projects by other authors. 
Buffalo City Czar by James Scott (Editing/Typesetting)
Dedicated to Bmore City by Nigel Ali (Editing/Typesetting)
Hoeism by English Ruler (Proofreading/Typesetting)
High Rollers by Envy Red (Proofreading/Typesetting)
'Til It Happens To You by Kristofer Clarke (Proofreading)
My debut novel, LAUGH NOW earned 2010 AAMBC BOOK OF THE YEAR, and I was honored with 2011 AAMBC AUTHOR OF THE YEAR. LAUGH NOW won Most Creative Plot at the Creative Excellence Awards.
Specialties: developmental editing, reviewing, critiquing novels, and publishing coaching.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


It is Always Time to Read Warren Adler...
But somehow this book caught my attention at this time...

 “Beat his ass.”
 She looked at him archly. He did not reflect the win. “So why so grim?” 
“Damn meeting with those relatives,” he muttered. The hostage problem was becoming a constant irritation, but he was managing it as he dealt with most problems. He had the ability to tuck things away in compartments, close their doors. Only this door refused to stay shut.
“Just be a good soldier,” she said.
“That’s the problem. A soldier fights.” He slipped into a T-shirt and pulled it over his chest with an angry gesture. Then he slid into his pants and pulled his belt tight around his waist. “They’re looking for it,” he said. 
“Maybe Harkins is right after all. Hell, he brags about his covert assets. Why not go in and secretly whack ’em. Nice clean surgery.” He stepped into his shoes. “All this crap about violence begetting violence. Morality bullshit.” “Hate to think of what you might dub immorality,” she said with a lilt, hoping to calm him.
 “Point is, we let them get away with it, no one’s safe. Especially us.” He turned to study her face.
“You think we’re really safe and snug in this place with all those Secret Service guys climbing in our soup?” He waved his arms. “And those cement barricades and walk-through detectors. A determined bastard would find a way.” 
Alluding to that possibility genuinely alarmed her. She turned from his gaze, deliberately hiding her fear from him. Under the circumstances, she had tried to follow a routine as normal as possible. But the idea of danger was never far from her thoughts. 
When Paul was a senator and they lived on Capitol Hill, he had bought her a little silver-plated .22-caliber pistol, which she had kept in a drawer next to her bed. She was alone a great deal and, although she detested the idea of it, she had not removed the gun from the house. Just in case, he had said. 
God forbid, she had thought. But she had kept it in its place. Worse, she had brought the pistol with her to the White House, where it had remained in the drawer next to her side of the bed, hardly a weapon to match the Secret Service battery of Uzi machine guns that surrounded them. 
“Times like this you almost wish you could be a dictator,” Paul said as he pulled up the knot of his tie. She knew he was trying to prepare himself mentally. 
“So what would you do differently?” she asked.
“I’d blast the hell out of everyone that aids and abets these bastards. Government, clans, financial supporters, families. Everyone.”
She remained silent, letting him vent himself. “Nixon wasn’t so dumb,” he mumbled. 
“Remember the Watergate tapes. He used to wish he were like the Mafia. They know how to get things done.” 
He kissed her perfunctorily on the forehead and stormed out of the room.

The President was frustrated--more hostages had been captured and held by this group or that. Always considered fanatic terrorists. Would it never stop? This time, however, by accident, a woman and child had been captured, when the intended target didn't show up and trouble began. The terrorists were pulling back but the woman and child, who had gone into the building's bathroom, was coming back out. They were grabbed and swiftly taken away. 

Thereafter, to protect their prize, they would drag the mother and child from place to place, sometimes even into vacant buildings, where they would be tied up and sat along the walls. The young boy was afraid, of course, but his mother knew something--she knew her family would not allow them to be hurt and would work immediately to free them. She spoke calmly to her son, ensuring him as best she could, though she, too, was afraid of what might happen in the meantime...

“I got good news and bad news,” he began. His eyes surveyed the faces around the table. He did not sit down, knowing that he was about to impart something momentous. He waited to create the perfect sense of drama.
 “Mafiosa,” he said, pausing for a long moment. “The man who has the President is Salvatore Padronelli, better known as the Padre, probably the most important don in this country. Second generation. A racket network of powerful proportions. The other three are his top capos, loyal to the death. One of them, the Canary, is a known murderer and hit man. The other, the Prune, has a rap sheet as long as your arm. The young one is Benjy Mustoni, known as the Kid, an ambitious enforcer. This caterer, poor bastard, was, as they say, given a deal he couldn’t refuse.”
“What the hell do they want?” “They want Maria and Joseph Michaels, the Padre’s only daughter and grandson.”


Maria and Joseph Michaels had been waiting for her husband when she was captured. But he had no power or ability to get her back--just as the familities of other hostages that were taken would be, without help from powerful people...

The President's staff had already been in negotiations, but nothing thus far had helped. Everybody knew the US policy: the government policy of never negotiating with terrorists, never giving in to their demands.  But that response was never satisfactory to relatives of the victims. The President had hated meeting with the families. They knew...and they knew he knew...that doing nothing was not an acceptable answer...

They found that out when that message was given to Maria and Joseph Michaels father. Padre Salvatore Patronelli, the most important don in America...

Because the leader of the Mafia was not willing to accept that America could do nothing. And he would ensure himself that he got his family back! By taking the President of America hostage and forcing action!

Sounds impossible, right? Well, not with Warren Adler's version of what the Mafia Don would do to save his family... It involved wearing explosives and walking right into a gala event sponsored by the President and his wife...

If you have read award-winning author Warren Adler before, you know already that what he writes is always unique, totally engrossing, and true-to-life. I enjoyed watching as the Mafia walks all over the Secret Service as they capture and then force the President and his wife into their living quarters, where they establish themselves for a visit, however long that would take! It was the President's wife that stole the show, in my opinion!

I highly recommend you take a break from the chaos happening in reality, and enjoy how things get done--Mafia style! Concerned about politics? Maybe even a must-read for you... it will lift you into an alternative fictional world that is a great place to be to watch the action! And good things do happen!


Warren Adler is best known for The War of the Roses, his masterpiece fictionalization of a macabre divorce turned into the Golden Globe and BAFTA nominated dark comedy hit starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. In addition to the success of the stage adaptation of his iconic novel on the perils of divorce, Adler has optioned and sold film rights to more than a dozen of his novels and short stories to Hollywood and major television networks. Random Hearts (starring Harrison Ford and Kristen Scott Thomas), The Sunset Gang (starring Jerry Stiller, Uta Hagen, Harold Gould and Doris Roberts), Private Lies, Funny Boys, Madeline's Miracles, Trans-Siberian Express and his Fiona Fitzgerald mystery series are only a few titles that have forever left Adler's mark on contemporary American authorship from page to stage to screen. Learn more about Warren Adler at

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Cynthia Drew Presents Intriguing Art Crimes Novel, Sing for the Dead

JUST PAST THE sign marking the Cruz County line the gold Corvette headed down into the canyon. The closer they came to Arco Viejo, the more Eliu Colón dreaded arriving there. He had heard about Ignacio Garza’s accident. That event had effectively shut down the workshop. The other santeros could rough out the bultos, but the finish that made the difference between folk art and fine art, between icon and parody, had been in Garza’s hands. On this, the Day of the Dead, the mood in Arco Viejo would not be joyous. Diaz watched for spiders and snakes as he drove. He was happy for Colón’s company—the last time he’d driven the road he’d been visited by the dead—the ghost of Pablo Estrella, and he couldn’t get the image of his own head, bouncing along the dusty road, out of his…well, his head.

Winner--Gold Award for Mystery Fiction 2017
Foreword Reviews
Author's Note

This book was based on the fact that Mexican cartels, increasingly weary of dodging drug enforcement and tired of the layered structure of dealing drugs, have, as recently as 2013, turned to gold mining as a revenue stream and a mechanism for laundering money. As much as nine percent of Mexico’s multi-billion-dollar gold industry is the result of illegal production, controlled by the cartels. Gangs demand extortion payments from local and multinational mine operators in exchange for allowing them to work their concessions, or take full control over a mining operation...
Sing for the Dead takes us to Santa Fe, New Mexico, dubbed by the Chamber of Commerce, “The City Different,” and modern-day spiritual home of the santeros, artists who carve and paint santos, images of saints, reflecting one of the oldest living traditions of religious devotion practiced by Hispanic Americans.

It was near the celebration, that was held annually, marking The Day of
Dead. Most of the time it started on October 31st and continued for days... It was a busy time for the men who worked to create baltos, small statues that would be especially sold during this celebration.  Immediately, I thought of my small statue on my piano of the famous statue I visited years ago which has become a symbol of both the trip and Our Redeemer...

I found it ironic that the baltos played such a significant part in the story... both real ones and fake.

For there was a rush for more and more baltos to be created for sale or shipped out that drew attention of our main characters... Adrian Duhe, from Interpol, had received three different reports that the long-lost bulto, the Zuni San Gabriel, which had not been seen for 150 years, had been listed in Sotheby's and the last one of the three had sold for $75,500! His own investigation proved enough that he was soon on the telephone to the FBI Arts Crime Team in Washington... where he brought the issue to Jacques Pearce...

While J. J. Jaynes was on his way--to Santa Fe, NM.

And almost immediately, he met Alejandro...and his first balto. A santo of Saint Jude—the patrón of lost causes.” But this lady of the night would not sell the statue for any amount of money, letting him know that she'd had the balto for over 40 years and would keep it close always. She had sold her body to him, but not the statue...interesting... But he did "buy" where he could find another one...

And Alejandro Ramirez was dead before midnight... 

While Jacques Pearce began investigating with experts about the lost Zuni San Gabriel which had mysteriously reappeared and sold...and sold, and sold again...

And everything seemed to ultimately lead to Santa Fe, where Jacques Pearce had just sent Micki Jaynes. Yes, J. J. Jaynes' wife... which promised to get interesting...

This is one of those novels where I find I want to keep talking about it. I was learning fascinating new things, while thoroughly enjoying a murder mystery, and valuable art treasure hunt. I recommend you meet there in Santa Fe to discover exactly what type of treasure can be found! The story is intriguing, humorous, as well as an interesting look at the historical legends created within artistic endeavors--and how they can lead to danger and murder!

I normally am attracted by treasure hunt novels featuring relics or some other type of treasure, relishing the research that goes into such a book, so I was certainly happy to be attracted by the cover. Do check it out and let me know what you think...and we'll talk more...


Works at  Author, Fiction Author, and Writer
Past:  Children's Book Illustrator

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Awakening! Another Great Jake Vincent Mystery by Terry S. McGhee

..."Are you ready for a morning run, Jake? What say we get the kinks out about six?"
"Little early, but I'm game. It'll be dark."
"There are so many lights in this town because of the tourists. I bet DC has one of the highest electrical power consumptions of any city of comparable size. I have a one hour route I like to take. We'll run west over to Fifteenth Street, south past the Monument, Jefferson Memorial, then out onto Hains Point."
"Great," I said. "The Tidal Basin-Hains Point was a common running route for me when I worked the district. I'll never forget the eeriness of The Awakening sculpture out on the point--the terrorized face, arms, and feet sticking out of the ground."
Sam and I greeted each other in the lobby of the Lex the next morning...
We started the jog out to Hains Point on Ohio Drive with the
"Shit, Jake, that's a real human body
laid out just like Steward Johnson's
original sculpture...
Washington Channel and Fort McNair on our left and the Potomac on our right. The sun was just peeking over the eastern horizon, giving some early daylight to our nation's capital. A peek back over our shoulder showed the top of the Washington Monument just turning pink to pale yellow as the sun rose. As we approached the end of the island, Sam pointed and said, "Right over there, Jake, is where the original Awakening sculpture used to be. Now--what the hell?" Sam grabbed my arm and froze in place just as I saw what he was looking at. I thought that they might have installed a new statue

but of a smaller size. We both slow walked to the very spot. "Shit, Jake, that's a real human body laid out just like Seward Johnson's original sculpture. Stay put while I go check."
Sam finally motioned to me, and I walked over to view our grisly discovery. The yellowish, low-sodium part lights made the body look more grotesque. Sam had a small pocket flashlight and was kneeling and examining what was clearly a dead male human body buried with his face, right arm, left hand, left knee, partial left leg, and right foot protruding out of the ground. The body's posture mimicked the original sculpture. A small three-by-four cardboard sign was hanging by a string from the victim's right hand. The letters in the message had been cut and pasted out of a local newspaper. It read, "WAKE UP AMERICA. You're watching the grave of America being dug."

It's early 2017 and America is gearing up for a new president, to be elected in November. But the rumblings, the concern of many Americans has been building for many, many years. People are beginning to question the political atmosphere in Washington and early campaigning has already become rougher than usual... 

For Jake and Murphee, they were happy to be up and heading for their first walk in the morning. His wife of 50 years wanted nothing to do with either of them and promptly banned them from returning to the bedroom for at least a couple of hours... Breakfast...everything was wonderful, away from the world, far in the mountains...Until Breaking News interrupted...

Even after so many years working with the government related to security issues, Jake was still caught off guard by hearing about a released report by one of America's leading research centers, Just the Facts, regarding the growing negative view and diminished respect for America by world leaders...and that a significant political polarization existed among the American public...our country was becoming divided... Jake realized that being off from the center of activity allows people to become separated from the reality of the world situation. He was concerned more than shocked, given all that had happened during past years...

Nothing, however, prepared him for what was happening under the surface...what actions were being taken to ensure things happened as certain people wanted them to... Jake had already been scheduled to do a security consultancy for the FBI related to their physical facilities. He had worked with the agent, Sam, for many years and was looking forward to a little time, and extra money coming in during their retirement.

What he wasn't prepared for was the murders and disappearances that were happening there in Washington. There was no way he wouldn't become involved, much to his wife's disappointment and concern. As various investigations were pulled together, everybody soon realized that the victims were deeply involved in politics and their murders likely to have been politically motivated!

The conceptual storyline for those who were pulling the strings and acting as executors, was unique, yet very possible. This made for an intriguing and dangerous hunt--and Jake wound up right in the middle, even if he was really there to evaluate and recommend security improvements!

On a personal level, I truly appreciate seeing older writers, writing about older individuals who continue to be involved and interested in what is happening in the world. While the story has little to do with the actual events of that November election, it is a timely book, fringing on the reality of today's ever-increasing divide in America. I found it intriguing that many of the political thoughts of the characters could easily have been those of one party versus another...I think that attracted me more to the book than anything else... That is, are we really so different? And what is causing the great divide? 

One final comment on the fascinating book cover! I loved it...turn it upside down and see the location in Washington where "The Awakening" occurred! I enjoyed this exploration and finished the book in one setting!  Highly recommended!


Thursday, August 9, 2018

WOW! In our Blood By William J. Goyette

They’ll never see it coming. A lazy finger brushed across a blurred photo of an attractive couple hurrying across a hectic urban street. Not in a million years. He studied their eyes, imagined himself peeling back the eyelids, crawling through. Really digging inside their heads. Not even after the last drop of blood has drained from their bodies. The man in the photo was attentive, purpose in his frozen stride. The woman appeared distant, oblivious to the traffic buzzing around her. She gripped her companion’s arm more out of necessity than affection. 
His eyes flicked across more images of the couple. Split-second glimpses of their lives–together, alone, or with a young boy and girl. His attention shifted to a narrow slit of a window, the only source of light in an otherwise bleak space. Rain slammed the weathered panes at an impossible angle, painting an angry ripple effect on the bed beneath. 
The woman sprawled across it stared blankly at him. “What are you looking at?” His gaze slid back to the photographs, to the woman frozen in time, His Fair Maiden, each snapshot an open window to her soul. 
She was a doting yet ferociously protective mother. As a wife she was efficient, dutiful, if somewhat apathetic. She was kind and respectful as a rule, but had no patience for fools, and made little effort to hide it. She took painstaking care of herself. Not, he sensed, for her husband or anyone else, but out of a selfish need to preserve the beauty she’d always known, yet also knew was on temporary loan. 
He riffled through the photos. Ah, there you are. His favorite. Caught in close-up. Apprehension, bordering on fear, chiseled into the subtle lines book-ending her mouth that only made her more real, more potent.
What are you thinking, My Fair Maiden? A leisurely finger massaged the contours of the face, circled the full lips, caressed the silken hair. He stood abruptly, moved to the bedside, shoved the photo into the face of the woman twisted among the covers. “Why don’t you take care of yourself like this?” he said. He got no response. Not that he expected one. After all, she was dead. He was lulled by the tap-tap on the window above the ghastly corpse, the diminishing rain the only witness to his crime. Tears slid down the slick panes, mourning the woman because nobody else would. But they’ll all care about you, won’t they? He positioned the photo of His Fair Maiden so it shielded the blanched face of the woman on the bed. I’ve got a big surprise in store for you. You’ll never see it coming.

From the Prologue until the last climatic pages of William Goyette's novel, In Our Blood, I was hooked! In many ways, the suspense is subtle--the author has grabbed the reader, but has not told us anything that can help us know what will be happening--no, what IS happening!
Carla Mendez was a wilted flower that has hung on long past its season. White-with-specks-of-gray hair was pulled back so severely, her eyes seemed to stretch halfway around her head. A neatly pressed housecoat worked overtime to fill out the skeletal frame it dripped from. 
“Mrs. Mendez,” Jake said, “you said that Miss Thomas had a guest staying with her. A man. Can you remember what he looked like?” 
The tiny woman let out a puff of air, deflating her fragile body even more. “I’m sorry I haven’t been much help. It’s just, after seeing Donna that way…” 
“It’s okay, Mrs. Mendez,” Henderson said. “Take your time.” Women melted when Kyle flashed those pearly whites. Even old coots in housecoats. Carla Mendez returned the smile, smoothed her dress. “Thank you, Detective.” 
Jake stifled a groan. Carla turned to Jake. “Yes, I think I can remember what he looked like.” 
Jake nodded. “Great. If you wouldn’t mind coming down to the station…” “Beg your pardon?” Carla crowed. “What for?” Her wrinkled face wrinkled up even more, if that were possible. Thin parched lips folded into one another. 
“It would be a tremendous help, Mrs. Mendez,” Jake’s partner said. “If you’d feel more comfortable, I can accompany you.” The wrinkles smoothed, her lips unfolded and curled up. “Then I’d be delighted,” she said. “Shall I get my purse?”

And, of course, in order to learn, we will need to become acquainted with our main character, Jake Hawksworth. It is Jake who describes himself to readers, and I kept coming back to "Columbo" as I learned more about our main investigator. In fact, I enjoyed the POV coming from him as he worked to discover what was going on...but also as he worked and thought about his partner, enjoying, his sense of humor...or lack thereof.  For me, it lightened up a somewhat gruesome murder mystery/thriller...

The murder in the Prologue set the tone for what was to come, but, interesting, one clue came out of it as Jack and Kyle surveyed the room... In the midst of a variety of books on a shelf, a complete set of those written by a well-known author... Jake surveyed a snap-together wall unit that housed a jumble of tattered books. Tawdry romance novels. Obscure detective pulp. A perfectly aligned row of shiny hardcovers caught his eye. The same author’s name ran up each of their glossy spines. Every book written by the guy. Jake knew this because he had the same collection on a shelf in his house. 
“She must’ve been a fan of McCauley’s,” an ID officer said. “How about you,” he added. “A fan, I mean?” 
“Who isn’t?” Jake said. He winked at his partner. “Let’s go meet your girl Sally.”

It begins around the third chapter when readers meet Drew McCauley on a plane heading home, as he is working on his latest book... And we meet Chance...Is he just a character? An  intriguing overlay of activities within the book begins...Is McCauley writing a book...or is what is happening only concepts for McCauley's story... Close attention is mandatory for readers at this point! My only warning...

While Jack and Kyle are working on the murder of the woman who had been found dead in her bed, readers move on to meet new characters in the book... Chance and Lynette are meeting with Bud to consider having Bud help kidnapping the son of author, Drew McCauley... Bud is hesitant, very hesitant, but needs money badly, and asks why Chance thinks he can get to the kid... Chance answered, but Bud didn't understand, when the answer was, "Because I know him better than he (McCauley) knows himself..."

And, indeed, when Drew arrived home, he was surprised, and then concerned that Paige and his children had not met him at the door, as usual when he returned. Though Chance and Bud thought they were not observed, they had been, so the family had prior warning that somebody was watching their home... But they still succeeded in taking Ben...

Jake was having one of his nightmares, which had become routine since his wife had been murdered, and Nikki, his daughter was having a tough time awaking him...They were planning to go out and eat and she was going to share about her new boyfriend... Even then, Jake had a hunch about the young man he had not yet met....

But that had to wait, because Jake, who had worked for them before, was called in by the McCauley family to find their son!

Intense, provocative, and somewhat spellbinding, this book is well worth reading if you are a suspense thriller fan. This first in series is a must-read if you enjoy a main character and series that grabs you right from the beginning and leaves you wanting more. The climax is well worth waiting for and surprising enough to leave you a bit stunned... wondering what Jake is going to get into in his next case.... Highly recommended.


I've been a "word nerd" for as long as I can remember. My mind is always in the "on" position, with new stories and characters constantly brewing. Right now, I have about a half dozen ideas for future novels banging around in my head.

In Our Blood is the first in a series of detective thrillers featuring Detective Jake Hawksworth. Jake isn't superhuman. He can't take on five guys at once, can't scale buildings, can't save the world from weapons of mass destruction. Jake is every man. 

I'm currently immersed in the second Jake installment, a murder mystery set at a remote writers' retreat, called Little Red Herrings.

When I'm not lost in my fictional world, I'm traveling the real world with my wife, spending quality time with my two daughters, or rolling around on the ground with my dogs.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

William Manchee Presents Deadly Dining...

Chopin's Nocturne is the theme song for the Stan Turner Mystery Series - Cool!

..."This is Nikki Lane at Emilio's Italian Restaurant in Dallas where four patrons apparently have become violently sick from food eaten at the popular north Dallas restaurant. Police and ambulances are on the scene where witnesses say four customers eating a variety of entrees all got sick at about the same time. Three of the four customers have been rushed to Medical City Hospital and the fourth is being loaded into an ambulance as we speak.
"Now if you have a young child watching you will probably want them to leave the room before we show this video taken by a customer at a nearby table. It's quite graphic."
The restaurant's interior appears where a man at a table is holding his throat and coughing uncontrollably. Then the woman across from him turns pale and starts to throw up. The man next to her stands up, grabs his throat and then collapses to the ground. The final woman at the table screams and then begins to convulse. Two waiters come over to try to help but there is little they can do. The woman's convulsions finally stop and her head falls forward onto the table, her eyes wide-open. There are screams and general panic then as people flee the restaurant. Sirens can be heard in the background and then the video ends.
"Well, that image will probably keep many of us awake tonight. We apologize for showing it but it's our commitment to bring you the latest news no matter how unsettling it might be," Nikki Lane said. She hesitated, listening to something being said to her in her earpiece. "We just got word that two of the victims were DOA at Medical City Hospital. No word on the other two victims. The police on the scene have advised us that many customers at Emilio's Italian Restaurant fled the scene shortly after the fur victims got sick. Police are requesting that anyone who ate at the restaurant tonight go to the local emergency room to be checked out. No one knows right now what caused these terrible reactions, so it's imperative that anyone who ate at the restaurant see a doctor immediately.
"To summarize: two people have died tonight while eating at Emilio's Italian Restaurant and two others have been admitted to Medical City Hospital in Dallas. We'll keep you updated as new information is learned about this terrible tragedy. This is Nikki Lane for Channel 4 News."
"Oh, my God!" Rebekah said. "We've eaten at that restaurant haven't we?"
Stan nodded, Yes, we have. I did some estate planning for Emilio Bellucci and his wife. I took you to lunch there about a year ago. He's a really nice guy and everybody loves his restaurant."

Deadly Dining:
A Stan Turner Mystery

By William Manchee

This is the 11th in the series and I must say that I was impressed by the quality of the book. Although my first reading of this author. I enjoyed the novel immensely. When we read legal fiction, most of the time we are learning about a major case. However, Manchee takes readers into his legal office, where he works with two additional lawyers as well as their administrative assistant.  And with three lawyers, you get three cases! Wow!

The setting is wonderful as most of the time we are in the office, as cases are discussed, planned for, and individuals are interviewed. Stan has Paula as a partner, and a new associate, who proves herself as she takes on her first live trial... I loved each of the characters and how they worked to help each other even though one individual was responsible...But, really, when they decided on an intervention for Stan...LOL...I knew exactly what they were going to find... Not so, with the legal cases...

Paula thought about the victims.
She needed information on them
in case one of them was a target
of the killer. A smart murderer
might kill several people so it
would be difficult to determine a
motive for the crime.
The major case is related to four individuals in Emilio's Italian Restaurant becoming sick and then three of them dying...It was determined that rat poison had been placed in the Parmesan cheese which each of the individuals had accepted to be added by the waiter... Of course, the waiter was accused! Although Stan had worked for Emilio before, he turned the case over to Paula who was the only lawyer with criminal defense experience. Emilio had agreed to pay the legal fees for Ricardo, not believing his long-time employee was guilty.

A compelling case was being built up for a local mobster and this men. They were known and already under investigation by the FBI so everybody hoped that the murders would be the final action they needed to finally put them in jail.

And then there was the Pakistani couple who had gathered up $250,000 to buy into a store in America...Then the part owner stopped working but still demanded half of the income...Stan suggested several legal options to him, including bankruptcy...but while he was getting things back in order, the owner started to harass him...and burned down the store!

In the meantime, the really incongruous case began, when Jodie Marshall's first trial case was to defend a young ex-MP who had stopped a robbery at a jewelry store and during the struggle, the gun accidentally went off and hit the store owner in his leg... He was suing "the hero" for damages, medical expenses and stress...

One of the things I hadn't thought about in small legal offices, was that the lawyers themselves might have to do the investigations and actually get into dangerous situations... And in all three cases, no matter which one, there was the involved criminal(s) who didn't care about the people they were hurting...only that they wanted what they wanted and aimed to get it! The level of legal expertise for each of these cases was high and the writing of the story was well-done since readers are watching, yet seeing the results of each case during the trials.

I do wish I had the time to go back and start right at the beginning of this legal series. It is different enough, by the setting being in a law office, that, after reading this one, I can just imagine the kind of cases that Stan and his group would potentially handle. Though serious cases, the read was fun, moving from one issue to another, making sure I was remembering which case I was now working on... Fun, yes, but in not one case did I successfully project what the ending would ultimately be.  That's my kind of book! If you are a legal fiction need to check out this series! Highly recommended...


Manchee was born in the small Southern California coastal town of Ventura in the late 40's. Bicycling, hiking, camping, fishing, traveling, baseball and tennis occupied the bulk of his time when he wasn't attending school. He attended Buena High School, graduating with honors in 1965. During this time he became an Eagle Scout, earned the God and Country Award and was a Congressional Intern for Congressman Charles M. Teague.

Determined to become a lawyer and go into politics, Manchee attended UCLA majoring in political science. It was a tumultuous time with the Vietnam War raging and anti-war protestors running rampant on most U.S. campuses. During the California primary elections in 1968, Manchee went to the Ambassador Hotel to see Bobby Kennedy. Although a Republican, he was intrigued by the Kennedy mystique and wanted to see it first hand. Instead, he witnessed the aftermath of Kennedy's assassination, watching Sirhan Sirhan's arrest and seeing Kennedy loaded into an ambulance.
After marrying his high school sweetheart, Janet Mello, in 1969 he moved to San Diego for one year while he attended the University of San Diego School of Law. After a brief duty in the United States Marine Corps which was the inspiration for his novel, Undaunted, he moved to Plano where his wife and two children were staying with his in-laws. He immediately transferred to SMU Law School to complete his legal training.

While in law school he and Janet both worked full time to support their family that had grown by then to six. In his spare time, Manchee was active in the Republican Party becoming Collin County Chairman in 1974-1976. This was the era where the Texas Republican Party was a small but growing minority party. During his tenure, the party elected its first county officials including the Sheriff, a JP and county commissioner. Disillusioned by political backstabbing and opportunism he withdrew from politics in 1976, deciding instead to concentrate on starting his new law practice and raising his children.

After graduating from SMU Law School and receiving his Juris Doctor degree in 1976, Manchee worked for an insurance company for about six months before starting his law practice in Carillon Towers in North Dallas in 1977. His practice started out primarily in estate planning and business but soon bloomed into a general practice catering to the needs of the small business owner. After practicing in North Dallas' Park Central area for 40 years, he moved his offices to Plano, Texas where he now practices consumer law with his son, Jim. 

Manchee's literary career began in 1995 when he started writing as a diversion from his stressful law practice. It wasn't long before he realized writing was his true passion in life. Since then he has written twenty-two books. At first, he wrote mysteries and legal thrillers inspired by some of his own cases, but after writing a dozen or so, he branched out into science fiction as well. He enjoys both genres and plans to continue writing in each. Shortly after moving to Plano, Janet died after a long illness. Manchee has no plans to retire from either practicing law or writing novels, but he does make time to be with his four children and five grandchldren.