“The mind of man is capable of anything.” ― Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
“And all we feared inside the night
shows true in morning’s biased light.” ― Garth von Buchholz
I give Abby Greenwood kudos for trying. The idea is solid for her book, “Dark Hearts,”and could easily be transformed to any situation where people fight and kill one another simply because they are “different.” Well, and to turn a profit, of course. Native Americans slaughtered by the whites who came to this land. Religious difference, skin color differences, the list goes on and on.
The thing is, there were too many issues with the book to allow me to completely enjoy it. First, I was expecting a tense, suspenseful crime thriller. What is here is a mild police procedural with a romantic bent, based around a serial killer, race tensions in LA, and two officers who are doing their best to track down who is murdering people and stirring up said race tensions, and why. The “bad guys” were easily spotted, however, and their reasoning was fairly blatant early on in the book. The story arc was also damaged by lack of continuity – first one, then the other, and it was irritating that there was no editing for continuity. It shows up very early in the book and threw me off. There is also a ‘dropped’ story line that disappointed me.
Then we come to the ‘police procedural’ backbone of the book, and the lack of procedural and logistical knowledge of the author had me crossing my eyes. If you are going to write about a profession, whether it be police work, firefighting, or computer hacking, you have to research – something that was lacking here.
Overall, if you are just looking for an easy read, this is quick, and as I said the idea is good. I wish I could have enjoyed it more than I did. Great cover though.
“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” – Dante Alighieri – The Comedy
I have found myself a little jewel in an author who has been around for a while, but I hadn’t had the good fortune to come across previously. Casey Hill’s CSI Reilly Steel is an honestly strong female character. No running around with guns or knives, kicking bad-guy’s behinds. Instead, Reilly is smart, dedicated, and determined, willing to work until she finds the solution to the crimes she investigates. And this crime is going to require all her dedication if she is going to be able to help detectives Chris Delaney and Pete Kennedy solve this convoluted crime.
It begins in a rather horrific manner. The body of a well-known, and well-hated, journalist is found drowned in his own septic tank. Then, as more bodies pile up, all murdered in brutal and horrific ways, Dublin goes into a panic. Who will The Punisher, as the papers are calling him, attack next? I what brutal manner will they die? One thing Reilly knows is that the murderer is absolutely meticulous. Absolutely organized. And something is so, so familiar about the scenes he so methodically designs. But what is it?
Reilly is a great character. A former California surfer girl and previous FBI ERT (Evidence Response Team) Team Leader out of the San Francisco office. She has moved to Dublin, Ireland to bring the GFU, the Garda Forensic Unit, in Dublin, up to date on sorely outdated forensic procedures. Of course, being American, and female at that, doesn’t go over well with the previous GFU leader, but be that as it may, she holds her head up and does spectacular work, no matter the idiotic behavior of some of her coworkers. She is the reason I will continue reading these stories – she is multi-layered and strong, and yet kind to everyone around her. Lovely.
The story is fast paced, wickedly clever, and a well-researched police procedural. Reilly is finally getting to know her colleagues, Delaney and Kennedy, and it is interesting to watch them begin to grow their relationships, both professionally and as possible friends. It is a well-rounded tale. This is the second in the series technically, though there is a Volume 0 – Crime Scene: CSI Reilly Steel Prequel so technically it is the third. I hope to find the time (and money, of course) to be able to read them all. My only complaint? The editing is terrible so be prepared.
“Through me you go into a city of weeping; through me you go into eternal pain; through me you go amongst the lost people” ― Dante Alighieri, The Inferno
“He felt his heart, which no longer beat, contract, and he wondered if there was anything in the world as painful as not being able to protect the people you loved.”― Cassandra Clare, City of Fallen Angels
Agony. Such an interesting word, with such an interesting origin. “Late 14c., “mental suffering” (especially that of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane), from Old French agonie, agoine “anguish, terror, death agony” (14c.), and directly from Late Latin agonia, from Greek agonia “a (mental) struggle for victory,” originally “a struggle for victory in the games,” from agon “assembly for a contest,” from agein “to lead.” Now, it simply means, “Extreme and generally prolonged pain; intense physical or mental suffering.” Yes. Interesting.
Matthew Trevor Jones knows all about agony. His father walking out the door. His mother dying of cancer when he was twelve. His father refusing to accept, or even acknowledge his existence when he had no place else to go. A stint in Afghanistan. And now? Now, on this day, the day before his first day with Hollywood Homicide, he knows the agony of losing his friend, his brother in arms in the Sandbox. The man who pulled him away from all that was wrong with his life on his return from that dark and brutal place of guns and death. Away from his memories. The brother who got him started on the path to where he is today. Detective Kevin Hughes is dead, taken down in a blaze of bullets on his way to meet Matt, to celebrate his promotion. A bloody, blasted shell.
“At the end of the day it’ll come down to this: Kevin and I were brothers in arms. We fought the good fight and somehow both of us were lucky enough to come home. He had my back, and now I’ve got his.”
And as the case turns and twists, layers of deceit and lies, hidden meanings and horrific realizations come clear. Nothing is as it seems. Nothing is real, but at the same time too brutally real to be believed.
It all comes down to betrayal. The past and present are melding, and the threads of Matt’s life are starting to unravel.
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.” – W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming
This is the first time I have read Robert Ellis, but it won’t be the last. As much as I loved the book, there are certainly some who won’t. Ellis’s voice is harsh, nearly brutal in its ability to strip off the shiny layers, the bright and distracting gaudy bits, leaving the harsh truth behind, lying like the broken body of a child upon the sand.
“It hung there, all of it, in the candlelight and in the shadows, and on a night in late October when the dry wind howled.”
This is noir style detective thriller writing at its best and most complex. Beneath the shiny surface of Hollywood lies a dark and festering heart – and Ellis writes it like it is.
I received City of Echoes from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. If you like my review, please do me the favour of letting me know by clicking “Like” on GoodReads, and on Amazon after it is published. I really appreciate it!
Publishing September 1, 2015 by Thomas & Mercer
About The Author
Robert Ellis is the international bestselling author of “Access to Power”, “The Dead Room”, and the critically acclaimed L.A. Times bestseller “City of Fire”, “The Lost Witness”, and “Murder Season” – selected as top reads by Booklist, Publishers Weekly, National Public Radio, The Chicago Tribune, The Toronto Sun, The Guardian (UK), The Evening Telegraph (UK), People Magazine, USA Today, and The New York Times. His novels have been translated into more than ten languages, are read in more than thirty-five countries, and are available in audio and all digital formats. Born in Philadelphia, Robert moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a writer, producer, and director in film, television, and advertising. Robert studied writing with Walter Tevis, author of “The Hustler”, “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, and “The Color of Money,” and with his friend, John Truby, screenwriter and author of “The Anatomy of Story.” His books have garnered praise from a diverse group of authors including Janet Evanovich’s wonderful review in People Magazine. But perhaps Michael Connelly said it best: “‘City of Fire’ is my kind of crime novel. Gritty, tight and assured. Riding with Detective Lena Gamble through the hills of Los Angeles is something I could get used to. She’s tough, smart, and most of all, she’s real.”
“Your mission is clear cut and well defined. The set of philosophies you develop in order to achieve that mission will determine whether you make a beneficial contribution to the role police dogs play in modern law enforcement or whether you become a liability which undermines the good work of many men and women before you.” – Bruce Jackson, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Washington
I love stories with animals. A story with a military or police dog? Even more. Humans choose to be police or military. Their dogs do it out of love. Love for their handler first and foremost. Love for their work, pride in what they do. They lay their lives on the line for the handlers they love.
Bogart is just such a dog. A Belgian Malinois, Bogart has been police officer, best friend, and companion to Officer James Cannon in their positions with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. Now, Bogart has been kidnapped, and James will do anything, including going against direct orders, in order to track down and bring back Bogart.
Finally locating Bogart at a small cabin outside of Raleigh, James intends to arrest the woman he believes is his kidnapper. But things aren’t like he thinks – and Bogart, or “Prince” as he is now called – is determined to protect not only James but also Shay, the woman who rescued him from the doggie gas chamber and brought him home with her.
The story is a bit typical, but I identified with Shay. Her history, ongoing terror and hyper-vigilance are well done, and punched me in the heart. Her stalker? Very believable, as was the treatment she went through at the hands of the police as a child. There could have been a well-written literary novel built on these same bones, going further into Shay’s background and what happened to her throughout her life. I would have really enjoyed that very much. James was a good guy, very patient with a deeply damaged Shay. His obsession with getting Bogart back was believable, including his ‘not quite legal’ stalking of Shay, as was Shay’s determination to keep the dog she rescued from the doors of the gas chamber. All in all, I enjoyed the book, though it isn’t one I would call ‘outstanding’. Bogart/Prince was the best part of the story, and the narrator’s pronunciation of the German terminology used in handling Bogart was beautifully done. Jeffrey Kafer is an excellent narrator, and I am always interested to hear what he is narrating next.
To learn more about K-9 heroes, both police officers and military dogs, click on the heading, or the photo. These wonderful dogs have all given their lives to protect their handlers, other officers, soldiers and civilians. They are TRUE heroes. Often, the handlers who die in battle do so saving their partners and best friends – just as their canine companions would do for them.
“Called To Give My All”
I am a deputy in a canine crew. I’ve been trained to see it through.
When danger’s near my ears perk up, they taught me that as a little pup.
I’m often there to protect your rights, my presence sometimes hinders fights. I never attack with thought to kill,
when subduing one, my job I fill.
I never worry a single thought, as to how I’ll fare at a certain spot. The love I have for a handler’s care, is all I need, each day to fare.
And if some day my luck turns bad, I’ll relish all the joys I’ve had.
To be with men who stand for good, in a special kind of brotherhood.
The story’s end by now you know, of how I tried for a better show.
I did my best, though I did fall, when I was called and gave my all.
So near is falsehood to truth that a wise man would do well not to trust himself on the narrow edge. – Cicero
You think you’re the only one who can quote an ancient philosopher? Plato said: ‘He was a wise man who invented beer.’ “Does that mean you’re ready for another?” “Far be it from me to contradict Plato.” –Seth and Gideon – Guardians of the Night
There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare. – Sun Tzu
From secrecy and deception in high places, come home, America. From military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation, come home, America. – George McGovern
Military contractors. Self-serving, obsessive, narcissistic. And often? Well, let’s just say “above the law” often comes with governmental protection – no matter what the contractor does. And sometimes, what the contractors do is beyond horrifying.
Guardians of the Night is an unusual novel – a cutting edge look at cutting edge military technology, to be sure. But it grows well beyond a simple military suspense thriller. That is an amazing story line in itself. But there is a strong literary bent as well. There are literary and movie references galore, music and history and things that go bump in the night. Add in a well-developed, believable character list, convoluted storytelling, and of course, Sirius, a police dog beloved by all who meet him – and you have a police/military thriller that is much more than the genre it nestles within.
Gideon and Sirius are heroes. They ran into a burning building to capture a serial killer, and the public, of course, went wild. There is an undercurrent, a second storyline around the serial killer, Haines, which weaves through the story in a horrifying manner – much like watching the dead eyes of a Black Mamba… you wait for the strike – the strike which will steal your life.
And then there is “The Reluctant Hero” – the man who saved a playground full of children, yet will not identify himself. After a run-in with the Chief, (well, and the Mayor too) (Sirius really shouldn’t write snarky emails, ya know? Well, it was funny . . .) Gideon and Sirius are on the hunt for a man who doesn’t wish to be found and dragged out in front of the public. No one can protect their privacy in today’s world of political one-upmanship.
Can Gideon and Sirius stop a megalomaniac, find a “Reluctant Hero” without destroying his life, solve the murder of a homeless man with an incredible story to tell –and possibly solve the murder of a Angel?
I received this book from Amazon “First To Read” Program. All thoughts are my own – and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a great story with a modern, terrifying message.
The psychotic mind sees the world through its own prism and bends that world to its choosing . . . tell me, was the head close to the body? – Oliver Wilson, Psychiatrist – O’Henry
That’s when he hit her, when he saw how scared she was. He couldn’t bear it that she was frightened and asking for help. Asking for help is wrong. Because there isn’t any such thing as help in this world. ― Ryū Murakami, Piercing
The call comes at the most inopportune time. Well, not really a call so much as the rooster tail of dust that precedes a country Sheriff bringing bad news. And for Josh Ingram, long past his life as an FBI’s Profiling Division, catfish noodling, pulling drafts at his marina bar, and writing his next best selling novel now has to go on hold, as he and FBI Agent Rachael Tanner struggle to find the serial killer known as O’Henry, who has come roaring back after a seven-year absence in a wave of blood and publicity. When Josh’s best friend, a mild mannered bookseller is killed by a retired mafia mechanic, Josh is drawn deep into a story of murder, madness and political intrigue that could cost him more than he ever expected.
This first entry in the Josh Ingram series by Terry Brown shows great potential for this new author. Tight characterizations, deep emotional world building and beautifully developed storylines woven together into a tale of murder, madness and political intrigue makes Terry Brown a new author to watch.
I received the book from Mr. Brown in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.
I need to find a reason to go on with my life; to like what I do, to like who I am and to quietly pass the days until I can finally accept that I am doing the right thing; both for myself and – he supposed – my immortal soul. – DCI Michael Lambert – Abduction: Angel Over Rimini
I truly enjoy European and British novels, especially police procedurals. The turns of phrase, characterizations and procedures are just enough different from American stories that I normally find myself dropping into the story and losing myself. While that is the norm, there are certain books that I simply can’t make myself like, not because the story isn’t good, but because it simply isn’t well written. In this case, though Mr. Brigham may have been a journalist, he is in great need of an editor.
Though there are those who seem to admire his writing style, I find that Mr. Brigham’s over-descriptive, ad nauseum style had me wanting to pound my head against a wall. A good third of the book could have been tossed out and tightened down in order to make the book more readable. For example, I really didn’t need to know which rail lines Lambert took from St Lazar to Gare du Nord, then to Charles de Gaulle, and how he bought socks and ties at the airport. Why not just bring them from home, anyway? And knowing that he bought ten eggs, a jar of honey, a packet of spaghetti, etc. – ugh. Instead of giving us your marketing list, as the book does focus on food in places, I would much rather know what he cooked for himself and let it go at that. It would be much more interesting than a market list! The whole book is weighed down with these types of descriptions – filler material at best – which slows the story and allows the mind to wander until you suddenly realize that you have totally lost track of the narrative.
That is not to say that the book is totally boring or uninteresting. There are sections of the book, focusing on the countries Lambert visits, which are jewels of writing. And yes, there are some “foodie” scenes that are well done. For example, sitting outside a café in Alexandroupolis, Greece, eating baklava and drinking a little sweet Greek coffee reminds me of my own experiences with the same. Moreover, the descriptions of the countryside Lambert visits are often well done.
As for the actual cold case, that Lambert is working for Europol? The story itself is heartrending, pointing out just how “inhuman” humans can actually be. The treatment of migrants, lives lived in squalor, child trafficking, guns, murder and death – all come sharply into focus.
As for the secondary story, of Lambert’s father’s extramarital relationship during the war in Europe and the outcome so many years later when Lambert meets the Duchess of Malfi, well, it rather strains credulity – not in the history, but rather in the extreme level of coincidence inherent in the plotline.
Overall, this isn’t a bad book in-and-of itself, just not one that makes me want to go back and read the first two in the series.
I received this book from Rosie Amber! All comments are my own.
About the Author:
Patrick Brigham was the Editor in Chief of the first English Language news magazine in Bulgaria between 1995 and 2000. As a journalist he witnessed the changes in this once hard core Communist Country and personally knew most of the political players, including the old Dictator Todor Zhivkov and his successors Zhelev and Stoyanov. Traditionally a hotbed of intrigue and the natural home of the conspiracy theory, Bulgaria proved to be quite a challenge and for many the transition into democracy was painful. Despite this, he personally managed to survive these changes and now lives peacefully in Northern Greece. A writer and journalist for many years, he has written a number of short stories and articles which might be better described as light hearted, whilst confirming that the truth is often stranger than fiction.