Monday, September 26, 2016

Patrick Kelly Presents A Joe Robbins Financial Thriller - Hill Country Siren

I loved Sophie Tyler (Played by Stevie Nicks) long before she hired me. She was a hometown hero, a musician who grew up in Austin and made the big time. Sophie got her start in the mid-seventies working live venues with a band called the Texas Strangers. She worked the southwest circuit until she got her break as a solo artist in the early eighties.
In high school I couldn't afford the ticket for a live performance, but I bought her albums and played them over and over, studying the covers and the liner notes, mesmerized by her voice. I would put her album on the record player in my upstairs bedroom and climb onto the roof to look at the stars. 

When an incident affects me profoundly enough to invade my dreams, I write about it. The setting down of words on paper helps me think through the events, the role I played, the gains and losses, and the lessons learned, if any. I've been writing this story for weeks now, typing away in solitude, earbuds in, listening to Sophie's music. 

Though my journey began with a simple investigation it eventually meandered, step by avoidable step, onto a path both replete with wonders and laden with perils. To the wonders I contributed nothing but as for the perils...I don't know. Perhaps you should be the judge.

Hill Country Siren:
A Joe Robbins Financial Thriller

By Patrick Kelly

I have two confessions about this book. First, I didn't see how the issue of finances could be a thriller. I was waaaay wrong! Two, I totally missed the first clue the author gave readers... Wow, did that make the story that much more exciting! This is a novel you can sit back and enjoy, even though it does have exciting moments... Here's Why...

Joe Robbins, a freelance CFO, who has been asked to conduct a financial investigation of a possible scam for Sophia Tyler, a major music star, had been Joe's teen idol for years. His special love for her had stayed in a part of his heart for years and, so, when he's called upon to work with her, well, he finds himself acting just like the shy, star-struck boy he was when he fell in love with her... Such Fun to see him in action--or lack of it because he's just staring at her, not listening to the conversation, etc... You know what I mean, what's two plus two? Ahhh, Five?!! The guy can hardly stand still so that he doesn't go to touch and see if she's real and really right there talking to him, LOL!

" believe someone has scammed Sophie Tyler," I said, my voice rough, dry, and to my ears at least, a tad giddy. I sipped coffee, hoping the liquid would allow my next words to emerge normally. Ever since Rico mentioned the gig to me I'd had trouble relaxing, my blood pressure elevated...
"I thought we'd bring you on as part of my security team," said Adrian. "You could help out with security at the festival and look into this investment at the same time. That would camouflage yor investigation. I suggested the idea to Sophie. She loved it."
My pulse jumped. "You already talked to her about me?" The words about me came out wrong, almost a squeak...
Meet Sophie Tyler?
I would have done the job for free.

 Tyler. You're going to meet Sophie
Tyler?" Chandler's voice climbed
into a shriek with her second
mention of the name.
"Actually, it looks like I'll be working
with her."
...Who's Sophie Tyler? Callie asked.
"You dummy," said Chandler. "She's
the most famous rock star to ever
come from Austin."
Chandler sang a couple lines from
one of Sophie Tyler;s tunes. She
monitored the celebrity scene
closely, whereas Callie, only ten
was more into sports...
Joe's friend from the local Homicide unit, Rico Carrillo, had recommended Joe to Adrian Williams, the Security lead for Sophie Tyler. And, because she wanted the
investigation to be kept quiet, Joe was going to work on the regular security team... Joe was going to meet Sophie Tyler and be near her! Well, you know what happened, without my telling you, right? 

But, thankfully, when he was not right there with her, he was able to become the professional financial officer that he was. And, of course, Sophie had an entire staff entourage surrounding her that would be the first to check out! 

And there was one other perk to the job. Joe's daughter, Chandler, was a great fan and he was winning points to get to see his daughter more and to hopefully provide a chance to meet Sophie...

Joe was not happy with Rose, his ex-wife being remarried. He missed all of them, but at least was able to often spend time with his children. His short-term romances seemed to be just that...short-term, and he had just broken off his latest. Good thing, because nothing could have stopped what happened with least that's my opinion, reading what was written! LOL!

The financial activities were like a puzzle that Joe was solving and turned out to be quite fascinating. Before I started reading, I'd had a flashback when I spent a year of my life in a bookkeeping activity following the trail of capital money, spent by multiple staff, creating a new accounting system and losing my personal secretary to handle the job, after which I documented we were short over a million dollars--and got it! But, no way was that fun for me. Here Joe Robbins makes it seem like a mystery to be solved and just like on TV, he had to follow the money...

But what he found was that, in addition to the possible $2M scam for a new movie, it was clear that there were other times that appeared to also have been some kind of money manipulation... 

Some of the really exciting activities came while Joe was assisting in the security events at the concerts! With at least one murder that almost stopped the show from going on...

When Sophie walked onstage the crowd greeted her with whoops and whistles and applause. I stared at her for long seconds, the noise around me subsiding. She wore jeans and a light pink top, her hair combed straight and parted in the middle. The cheering continued as she bowed and waves. When the noise subsided she stepped to the microphone to thank the crowd and then quickly turned serious.
"A terrible thing happened two nights ago...My close friend Bryan Slater was murdered." Her voice cracked as she shared the news. A loud gasp came from the audience. I wanted to help but could think of nothing to do. She carried on.
"No matter how hard we try to make the world a better place, bad things still happen. One of the saddest parts of life is saying goodbye to the ones we love. The band talked about canceling today, but honestly, we knew that Bryan would want us to play. He was a we will go on with the show."

As you can probably tell, I loved this book...Merging a financial thriller within the world of music where large sums of money come in and go out was a brilliant decision. Notice I've said very little about the potential financial scams... What happened when Joe started following the money resulted in pieces of information being found almost continuously, but completely embedded into the overall activities that it would give too much away to talk about anything found. Still, though I understood what was being found...I would never have guessed the ending! You know what that means! Bravo to the author for providing a story that kept me guessing almost to the very end!

I highly recommend you check this one out!


Patrick Kelly conducted extensive research for the financial thriller genre by working as Chief Financial Officer for six different companies. Patrick lives and works in Austin, Texas.

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