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Review: The Detective and the Unicorn by Michael Angel

“To die, to sleep –
To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub,
For in this sleep of death what dreams may come…”
― William Shakespeare, Hamlet

I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. – Maya Angelou
____________
unicornThe photo of a snow-white Pegasus in the company of the President of the United States had made the front page of the Los Angeles Times twice now. Both times this happened, someone close to me has been killed.

Derek Ridder knows about death. About loss, and pain, true. But most of all, he knows about Death. A Los Angeles cop, he sees humanity at it’s very worst; it’s darkest, cruelest moments. Three years ago, he saw that front page photo only moments before his beloved wife, Beth, died – the victim of a suicide who decided to take many with him when he parked in the path of an oncoming train. And the second time.

The second time nearly drove him mad.

Now, Derek Ridder’s life has been turned upside down, his niece and sister-in-law threatened, and the very fate of our world, The Other World as it is called by those who populate the dimension which has paralleled and overlapped our own, may come down to whether or not Derek, and those who help him, can find the key to destroying a man – a man who is also a Monster.

It is called The Morning Land. A land of pegasi and unicorn, of dryads and wizards and all manner of things that go bump in the night. And in this land, a wizard has gone mad, threatening our world, and his, with total annihilation at the teeth and claws of a demon horde.

He had dead, doll’s eyes, like a sharks.

Stuck in the middle of a war, Derek must do all he can to save the worlds, to take out the wizard who will use both technology and magic to become the mighty foot on the throat of our world.

There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater. – Veronica Roth, Allegiant

Much like Hamlet, Derek’s life had lost all meaning. But will he reach beyond, into what and who he was before, and use his pain to save his world? And possibly, his own soul?

Much like others of his work, such as Centaur of the Crime or The Deer Prince’s Murder, there is a strong fantasy theme throughout, which harkens back to the original Grimm, were fairies weren’t cute little winged creatures, and Red Riding Hood’s story was filled with blood. Angel’s works cross the boundaries of reality and magic, of this world and the next, and for all of their vast readability and notes of humour, there is lying underneath a dark pool of pain – and an immeasurable depth of hope.
____
If you follow my reviews you will know that Mr. Angel and I have a working relationship, and yes, the author gave the book to me. What must be taken into account is that we have that relationship because I truly enjoy his work. If he were to blow it, well, I would let you know. However, as always, Michael charmed me with his wit and wisdom, his humor and understanding. This book is highly recommended for lovers of Urban Fantasy and Fairy Tales. And anyone else who simply loves a well-crafted tale. Enjoy!

 amazonBigamazon.ca  amazonUKgoodreads_icon

About the Author

michael

Michael Angel’s worlds of fiction range from the unicorn-ruled realm of the Morning Land to the gritty ‘Fringe Space’ of the western Galactic Frontier. He’s the author of the bestselling Centaur of the Crime – where C.S. Lewis meets CSI. His books populate shelves in languages from Russian to Portuguese.

Michael currently resides in Southern California. Alas, despite keeping a keen eye out for griffins, centaurs, or galactic marshals, none have yet put in an appearance on Hollywood Boulevard.

 

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UPDATE!!! CHECK OUT STAR TREK: RENEGADES!!!

Socialjazzdude over at Amazon posted the following information, which had me jumping up and down and giggling like a six-year-old:

While disregarding the abomination of JJ Abram’s films, Star Trek’s Walter Koenig (Chekov, TOS), as well as Star Trek Voyager’s Tim Russ (Tuvok, ST Voyager) and Robert Picardo (The doctor,ST Voyager) , are currently in the process of creating a pilot for a new soon to released Star Trek television pilot, ST Renegades. It takes place in the original timeline/universe and is set several years after Voyager’s return to the Alpha quadrant. It also will introduce new characters including a descendant of Khan. Please take a moment to check out their website, official Facebook page, and both trailers on Youtube. Unlike Abrams and Orci; Koenig, Picardo, and Russ are people who know and get Star Trek. This pilot is currently on schedule to be pitched to CBS in the fall 2014. Check it out and LLAP! “

Of course, as a huge Star Trek fan, I checked it out, and so should you!

boldly
Click to check out the new Star Trek franchise!

 

 And take a look at all the WOMEN who star in Renegades! Just a small sample:

aw1
Adrienne Wilkinson as Captain Lexxa Singh
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Sean Young as Dr. Lucien

 

tp1
Tarah Paige as Commander Petrona
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Chasty Ballesteros as Ronara
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Larissa Gomes as T’Leah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And for all you MYTHBUSTERS FANS out there (of which I am DEFINITELY ONE!)

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Grant Imahara as Lt. Masaru!!!!

 

 

Review: Albatross: Birds of Flight – Book One

albatross
This is some scary, edge-of-your-seat stuff! Click to order! Can’t wait for Book Two!

“Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur”
“The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived”
~ Attributed to Petronius ~ First Century AD

“Inter arma silent leges”
In time of war, laws are silent”~
Attributed to Cicero in his published oration Pro Milone, although Cicero’s actual wording was “Silent enim leges inter arma.”

Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty. ~ George Washington

Two women, one child, a blind man, and a former good guy. Not exactly an elite task force. ~ Lieutenant Anderson, Albatross

What do you do, who do you turn to, when your government and your military are out of control? When, in the name of anti-terrorism, your country becomes the terrorist itself, slaughtering, imprisoning and torturing the innocent? When your military turns on its own citizens, slaughtering at will, in order to cover up their own atrocities?

Alexander Burns is a soldier to his bones. Deployed to the nastiest, most violent locations on the planet, he is handled by his superiors as an attack dog- cold, emotionless, and completely and utterly heartless in his drive to reach his goal, no matter what the collateral damage. Go in. Kill. Get out. Do it again.

Now, Burns has been given a goal – kill Oman Sharif Sudani. The president has given the OK, the Chief of Staff is on-board, and all lights are green for the takeout of one of “the key architects of domestic and foreign terrorist attacks.” However, there is a problem. Burns’ superior, Field Agent Anthony Maxwell, has other plans. Capture Sudani, kill all witnesses, innocent women and children, and bring Sudani back as a trophy.

To hide his actions, he arranges for Burns and his pilot to be shot down by friendly fire. The pilot dies on impact. Burns, however, while escapes – and he knows more than Maxwell would like. The only problem is, Burns has holes in his memory. And with him being found by the Red Cross, and treated in military hospitals across the globe, Maxwell can no longer just kill Burns to cover up what he has done. Too much paper, too many witnesses. Innocent American citizens – citizens who find their lives ripped away and their families destroyed as Maxwell and his boss utilize black operatives to protect themselves at all costs.

Thus begins Albatross, Birds of Flight by J.M. Erickson. And let me tell you – this is one scary book. Oh, not scary in the Twilight Zone or Halloween vein. No, this is a real, hard hitting look at a government and military out of control. Erickson displays a deft hand at maneuvering through the maze of governmental and police agencies, tearing at the veil of silence that shrouds the manipulations and murders authorized or committed by the upper echelons. Further, he delves deeply into the complete lack of oversight which allows the influencing and control of the American public to the advancement of the careers of a privileged few.

Broken, and with severe head trauma causing memory loss, Burns is brought to a prominent expert in psychopathology, David Caulfield, by a covert group, led by Maxwell, who are determined to find out what Burns knows about not only the Sudani situation, but also information critical to Maxwell’s own boss – information that could destroy not only Maxwell but others in positions of power. Others, with no moral ambiguity regarding the murder of innocent American civilians.

When Burns regains his memories, and apparently loses the very sociopathy that made him a peerless covert operative, the deaths begin, as his psychologist’s wife is blown up in a car bomb meant for both David and Jenny. As David and Burns flee, others become victims of the shadow group bent on seeing Burns, and anyone who comes in contact with him, dead.

This is definitely a book requiring thought and attention, a true literary hard-hitter of covert operations, governmental cover-ups and senseless slaughter in the name of a shadowy concept of what constitutes national security. I truly enjoyed the fact that Erickson is educated and practices in the field of psychopathology, counseling & ethics and as a critical incident specialist for police and firefighters. The man knows of which he speaks, which was enormously refreshing! His military and police characters are believable, alternating between sympathetic and horrifying.

His main characters are immensely likable and understandable. Samantha, a nurse who cared enough to realize that Burns’ medications were being skewed and to try to obtain help for him – and who also has worked as a prostitute for many years, dealing with the trauma of abuse and torture in multiple foster homes. Becky, her frightened, anxious sister who deals with obsessive eating disorder and anxiety after she is forced to murder her cousin to protect Samantha, and now has rescued her brother’s baby daughter, Emma, from his murderer’s hands and is on the run with the child. And David, of course, blinded in the explosion that killed his beloved Jenny. Not much of a strike team – but with care, training, and dedication, they will do what they must to protect themselves, and see some small amount of justice.

As an aside, I see a lot of Erickson in the portrayal of David. Write what you know, right? I feel that Erickson and David truly know one another, and it adds a whole other layer to my understanding and enjoyment of the character.

This is a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat suspense/espionage/thriller that will take your breath away and leave you reeling. If this is your genre, please don’t overlook this fast-paced thrill ride. It makes the whole “Bourne” series look like a pale imitation of reality.

Highly recommended! I wanted to finish it last night, but I just couldn’t keep my eyes open – but darn, I sure wanted to!

Review: Stray Ally By Troy Lambert – Suspense, Thrills, and the Love of an Amazing Dog

Stray Ally
Please see the previous post for more information about “Stray Ally”

We must maximize our efforts to counter violent extremism, radicalization and recruitment in the United States and stop using xenophobia and ethnic stereotyping. – Bennie Thompson

Time and again we see leaders and members of religions incite aggression, fanaticism, hate, and xenophobia – even inspire and legitimate violent and bloody conflicts.
– Hans Kung

Humans never grow up. – Me

It starts innocently, though horribly. A teenager, one of those most careless of creatures, so certain of their own immortality. A skateboard, a bridge over a highway, and a long, long fall. And a specially trained soldier, drummed out of the corps for reasons unsure and unknown, a victim of circumstance – a victim whose world will now start to spiral out of control.

What happens when a military commander goes out of control? When the good join the evil, and death and destruction are the outcome? And what if what seems simply a tragic accident is actually something more? Something horrific beyond thought or comprehension?

Lambert has written a military-based tale of murder and hatred, sociopathy and convoluted planning that would make the Gorgon weep. Set in Idaho, the poster child state for domestic terrorism and religious fanaticism, as well as fanatical racism, this could have been your standard tale of psychotic racial hatred and military misanthropy. However, this is more than that. For, within an outstanding story of suspense and terror, Lambert introduces a nearly paranormal aspect – the dogs.

Todd Clarke has escaped custody. When a teenager fell to his death onto the hood of his wife’s Mercedes, and the state police officer, seeing the child and recognizing him as his own, attacks Clarke, threatening him with his gun, Clarke’s training kicks in under the shock of the child’s death, and Clarke disarms and kills the officer. In hiding in the mountains, Clarke runs across a supposed hiker and his dog, Sparky, and the outcome is the death of the hiker – and the friendship of the dog. Chased by agents, both known and unknown, Clarke begins a race for his life, with the nearly supernatural assistance of Sparky – an assistance that comes with the help of many other dogs, mutts mostly, lured to Sparky by a force which Clarke does not understand, but which saves his life again and again.

I adored the part the dogs play in the story line. As the author states in his statement regarding his book: So I read this book the other day, about a man in some real trouble, at an uncertain and dark point in his life. He meets a dog, and that changes everything. The dog is no ordinary dog, but I ask you: what dog is ordinary? With the help of this amazing dog and some of his canine friends, the man finds the strength to keep going.

Much like Todd, I have my own story of a dog who saved my life, who drew me back from suicide and self loathing, who taught me what love truly was. I wouldn’t have made it with him, just like Clarke needs Sparky and his friends.

Another thing that truly dug into me was the story of military personnel gone rogue – men of power who convoluted and destroyed the very essence of what is good about the military, turning it into a twisted and evil power used for the worst possible reasons. Hatred and domination, and all that is wrong and disgusting about the sort of mentality that hates others in the name of their concept of a hateful and brutal god. I have always found it interesting – those who preach Gods goodness and power and mercy, and that all things “great and small” are created by this god – but will, in his name, murder and torture and terrorize all those whose skin colour is not the same as their own.

But my favorite part of the whole book? The dogs, those loving, loyal, and tremendously brave creatures who will lay down their lives for the right and the true. If for no other reason, if you love dogs, you must read this book. You will never be sorry you did so.

Whatever the evolutionary basis of religion, the xenophobia it now generates is clearly maladaptive. – Lawrence M. Krauss

I received this book from Lucy Felthouse at Writer Marketing Services. I have received no compensation for any postings which I have undertaken, or any reviews written. All thoughts and comments regarding Stray Ally or any other books reviewed for Writer Marketing Services are my own.

Review: Nothing Is Negotiable by Mark Bentsen -Stunning Debut!

The lust of avarice as so totally seized upon mankind that their wealth seems rather to possess them than they possess their wealth.- Pliny the Elder

 Never underestimate the power of jealousy and the power of envy to destroy. Never underestimate that. Oliver Stone

bentsen
Mystery, suspense and terror in Montana and Southern Alberta!
Click to order the book, you won’t be sorry.

I had to double check. Really. It was absolutely imperative for me to find out if Mark Bentsen was really a first time author or if he was a well-known author writing under another name. Nope. First one. Well, will you look at that?

Bentsen has written a novel of suspense and mystery that can proudly stand amongst the works of the great suspense writers of today. His grasp of the written word is exceptional, drawing you into the story and refusing to let you go from the first line until the last page is turned.

To begin my paean to all things Bentsen, I must first point out the beauty of the language, as he takes you from the mountains and plains of Montana and up into the Southern Alberta plains. What first drew me to the book when it showed up as one of the daily selections offered by one of my “meet this new author” e-mails was the setting. Montana, and especially Glacier National Park, is breathtaking, allowing amazing vistas around every turn, whether it be rolling prairies or the stunning escarpments of the Rocky Mountains. I was hoping to drop myself into the landscape, and Bentsen does not disappoint, drawing mind pictures of great beauty. That, in itself, deserves a good book rating. I love books that offer me this short of “mental video” of what the characters are seeing.

The characters themselves are deeply real. Bonnie and Luke have had a hard time over the last year, as the droughts damaged their grasslands, forcing the sell off of their cattle and putting a severe strain on their marriage. But now, as financial stresses come off, they are thrilled to have Bonnie, a well-known wildlife photographer, asked to speak at a conference in the amazing Glacier National Park. A chance to grow Bonnie’s business as well as take a well deserved vacation to one of the most beautiful spots on the Earth.

What happens to Bonnie and Luke is an intense roller coaster ride of terror, as Bonnie is taken during a visit to Cardston, Alberta, and no one at the RCMP, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, believes Luke when he reports her missing. What happens next is shocking, terrifying, and kept me reading straight through. I literally couldn’t put the book down.

There is a great deal of evil in the book, the kind of evil that one person will commit against another for reasons of greed, envy, and pure heartlessness. There are also a couple of people who are truly warm and helpful, going out of their way to do the right thing. There is one storyline that runs amongst the many in the book that was somewhat of a stretch for me, but it was completely necessary to the story, and actually made me give a mean little chuckle as the main character is pulled up short by his own petard for doing what all men of a certain age are bound to do – or to at least contemplate.

The denouement is intense, and kept me flipping pages at an astonishing rate, spinning along to the end while barely breathing. Overall? This is a highly recommended thriller/mystery novel. Just remember to start it only when you have the time to block out the rest of the world until you reach the end!

P.S. – LOVE the cover!!!!

Review: Married to Madness – Devin Shane

married
If you have watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith, you will like that better.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith were spies. The specialized in wet work, and so do the characters in Married to Madness. However, this is a bit more twisted than Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Instead of spies, Zack and Brandon are vigilantes – vigilantes who keep their vigilantism from one another much like their predecessors, but not in as loving a manner. Both are stone cold killers, working with their own groups – Zack with a secret group of men, Brandon with an equally secret group of women. I found their own relationship to be violent and twisted, as they physically fight, injuring one another physically, live separately, and then come back together as if nothing happened. Great for the kids sense of security, right? To me, that is defiantly not a healthy relationship no matter if they supposedly love one another or not. Or what they do in their off time.

 Neither of them knows about the others vigilante extracurricular activities and keeping secrets is hurting their relationship. Zack begins to suspect that Brandon is a killer and wonders when she will trust him enough to let him know. Of course, he also disappears at all hours of the day and night and she has no clue what he is up to either. Pot. Kettle.

There is violence, madness, murder, and lies upon lies in the book. This I didn’t mind – it is the kind of book it is. What really put me off of the book was the fact that, for all they were supposed to be a family, they didn’t love one another enough to be honest about who, and what, they were. And for all that the story is supposedly about people loving one another no matter the circumstances, I found their violence toward one another to be completely off-putting, though the vigilante thing? Well, good for them for taking out the trash.

Overall, I had problems with the book, but still enjoyed most of it. It is one of those books that I will not, however, place on my “to be read again” shelf.

This book was provided by Netgalley.com for a realistic review. The opinions stated within are mine and mine alone.

Reviews Needed! Savage Roads (Where Griffons Feed) (Volume 1) (The Savage Series)

I still need reviewers for Erich’s book, Savage Roads (Where Griffons Feed) (Volume 1). This a great book – thrilling, suspenseful and powerful. Email me if you are willing to get a review in to Amazon and other sites in the next ten (10) days! It will be going to “Freebie Status” from the 10th to the 15th, so I would love to have it reviewed before then in order to get some action going on it!

SAVAGE ROADS KINDLE NEW COVER
Click to learn more!

Thanks!

 

Review: Plague by Buzz Bernard

plague
The idea was good.
The outcome, not so much.
Click for Goodreads reviews.

“We produce about 100 metric tons per year of weaponized variola virus. Smallpox.” Uri Sherbokov – designated escort, minder, keeper – Plague

“I studied at Emory University in America.” – Alnour Barashi – Terrorist – Plague

“We had begun working on the biological warfare issue in 1993, after the World Trade Center bombing made it clear that terrorism could strike at home, and a defector from Russia had told us that his country had huge stocks of anthrax, smallpox, Ebola, and other pathogens, and had continued to produce them even after the demise of the Soviet Union.”– Bill Clinton

Plague
[pleyg] noun
1. an epidemic disease that causes high mortality; pestilence.
2. an infectious, epidemic disease caused by a bacterium, Yersinia pestis,  characterized by fever, chills, and prostration, transmitted to humans from rats by means of the bites of fleas. Compare bubonic plague, pneumonic plague, septicemic plague.
3. any widespread affliction, calamity, or evil, especially one regarded as a direct punishment by God: a plague of war and desolation. -Websters Merriam Dictionary 2013

I am very much of two minds about this book, and for two very different reasons. I put a great deal of thought into my review after reading, and still am torn.

To get this out of the way, I am not fond of the writing style. The exposition is thin, the characters are more ‘caricatures’ and it could stand a good editor who can help the writer more fully realize his plotting and characterizations.

With that out of the way, let’s talk terrorism, level-4 containment, and the ease of foreign terrorists gaining use of facilities. We know other countries are creating biological weapons, as are we. “An offensive biological program was begun in 1942 under the direction of a civilian agency, the War Reserve Service (WRS). The Army Chemical Warfare Service was given responsibility and oversight for the effort. The mounting threat of the German buzz bombs that were raining on England from launching sites on the Continent during 1943 spurred the urgency of BW (biological warfare) defense because it was thought that these high-explosive rockets might easily be converted into efficient weapons for massive BW attacks.”(Weapons of Mass Destruction: http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/systems/bw.htm)

Things haven’t slowed down since 1942, and in some countries, especially Middle Eastern and the former Soviet states, it has increase dramatically. Given the state of world terrorism, it is not if, but when we will have to face yet another bioterror attack, such as the anthrax attacks of 2001. How it happens, and what the outcome is up in the air, but it will happen, and it will be horrific.

Bernard’s “Plague” addresses this issue, given a situation where the terrorist is an employee of a level-4 laboratory. The scenario is plausible, though some don’t seem to agree with me. Employees have the run of their labs, and can come and go at need, making it simple for them to hide what they are doing. As another reviewer said (paraphrased) “just like at Wendy’s.” There are thousands of foreigners working at highly secure facilities all around the United States, making it easy for a foreign terrorist to gain access if their cover is deep enough. Besides, we have own own, “home grown” terrorists as well who are just as dangerous, though usually on a par with high school educations rather than high-level virologists. I had no problem believing that part of the story. I could even see a foreign government being involved in the ownership of one of these facilities. Apparently, American corporations are more about the money than they are the safety of the people. But be that neither here nor there.

The writing simply wasn’t believable. Like many, I am a huge fan of the nonfiction work “The Hot Zone” and others in the vein. I adore heavily scientific works based around this theme, whether they be fiction or non-fiction. However, this one didn’t reach the level of excellence I had hoped for. If Bernard had spent more time on exposition, I might possibly have found the work more interesting. However, the characters just didn’t feel realistic. They were stilted and in at least one case, cartoonish.

While the overall idea was good, in the end, the book was simply a disappointment for me.

Review: Savage Roads:Where Griffons Feed by Erich Penhoff

SAVAGE ROADS KINDLE NEW COVER
Click to purchase Savage Roads!

He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice. Albert Einstein

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. Dwight D. Eisenhower

To understand Savage Roads, one must first understand the author. Erich Penhoff has been many things. Many things he won’t, or can’t talk about.  For instance, he list under “School” on Facebook: The black market, after the war. And we aren’t talking the Vietnam War.

Erich has seen many things, from jungles to deserts, to the wastelands of Antarctica. And it shows in this first novel of suspense, intrigue and the horrors of savagery and war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the DRC).

There are a lot of suspense books out there, and some of them are very good. But they aren’t like this book. Erich has been there, done that, and has the scars to prove it. And so does his hero, Marco Resnick . Marco is unlike any other “action hero” I have ever read about. He isn’t a 6’6” superhero, muscleman who hasn’t seen his 30th birthday. Marco is a real guy. He, along with his friends Karl and Michel have worked together for 30 years, traveling the world, doing what needs to be done. No matter how dirty, or how bloody, things become.

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West Africa’s super market for Voodoo witchdoctors…there may be one or two human heads in there too. – Erich

The DRC, Rwanda, many of the hellholes of Africa come into play in Savage Roads.  The scenes in the book aren’t for the weak of heart for, as Jean-Paul Sartre says; When the rich wage war, it’s the poor who die. There is blood and death aplenty as Marco and Michel travel the savage roads of a country drowning in violence. Unlike many heroes, Marco isn’t there for the killing, or the glory. He simply does what needs to be done. When what needs to be done is rescuing children from members of a savage paramilitary gang, he does it. Even if that does mean that many of that gang have to die.

Karl, a financial investor for many small and retired investors, has invested in gold mines in the DRC. Now, the gold has been stolen. Not only that, but Marco has received word that a huge cargo of munitions is set to leave Africa, destined for a group of ‘mafia types’ and warlords. In order to stop this, and to regain the gold, Marco and Michel will defy the odds to right these wrongs, and return the monies to Karl’s investors.

If you love action, adventure, suspense, and intrigue, you MUST have this book. You won’t regret the purchase, and you will be talking about it with your friends for a long time to come.

Highly Recommended.

Disclosure: I was the editor for this book, and Erich’s second, “Savage Death:Not Forgotten”. This in no way influences my review. It just gives me better insight into the novel.

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