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Me Again by Keith Cronin

October 13, 2011 by  •

Me Again by Keith Cronin“At some point we’ve got to stop trying to restore our lives, and start actually living them.” – Jonathan Hooper

When thirty four year old Jonathan Hooper wakes up after six years in a coma following a stroke the world is a blank slate to him. He doesn’t remember who he is or how he ended up in the hospital, he can’t talk, his muscles have atrophied, and he has no concept of numbers or time.

Not having expected him to ever recover, his family and girlfriend have moved on with their lives, a situation which may bother Jonathan more if he actually remembered any of them. The fact is, however, there’s very little Jonathan does remember. And so begins the arduous task of relearning how to live.

During the course of physical therapy Jonathan meets Rebecca Chase, who’s also in the process of recovering from a stroke suffered at an unusually young age. Unlike Jonathan, Rebecca didn’t lose her memory after her stroke. Not her memory of people and events anyway, she just doesn’t remember why she ever found any of it appealing…including her husband.

Together the two of them help each other rediscover who they were, and who they want to be.

Okay, I know. On the surface it sounds like Lifetime Movie of the Week material, but there’s more to it than that.

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Bad Moon by Todd Ritter

October 11, 2011 by  •
Bad Moon by Todd Ritter“It was believed that only the death of someone young and without sin could appease the bad moon.” – Professor Reid

Along with the rest of the world, on July 20, 1969, the residents of Perry Hollow, Pennsylvania were transfixed by the images of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. One in particular, young Charlie Olmstead, was so overcome with excitement he begged his dad to let him go outside to look at the moon, convinced he’d be able to see Armstrong up there.

His father relented and young Charlie peddled off into the night on his bike, never to be seen again. A subsequent search turned up Charlie’s badly battered bike at the base of a local waterfall, and it was concluded by the police that Charlie had suffered a similar fate, his body washed away. A tragedy, but just an accident.

Forty years later Eric Olmstead, just an infant at the time his older brother disappeared, returns to Perry Hollow to tend to his mother in her dying days. Her final request of Eric: Find him. Find your brother. Apparently his mother always believed Charlie was kidnapped, and feeling the obligation to at least make a token effort to fulfill her request, Eric hires private investigator Nick Donnelly, whose foundation is dedicated to solving cold-cases.

In addition to being a former Pennsylvania State Police investigator, Donnelly is also specifically familiar with Perry Hollow, having previously worked with Perry Hollow Police Chief Kat Campbell on a serial killing investigation (Death Notice). Nick looks Kat up when he gets to town, and together they meet with Eric, who has discovered something interesting while cleaning out his mother’s house – a board containing a map of the state with six locations marked in red, each accompanied by a clipping from a newspaper detailing a missing child.

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Lost Boy by Todd Ritter

October 10, 2011 by  •
Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing Bad Moon, the second novel from author Todd Ritter, which is being released this week by St. Martin’s/Minotaur. Today, I am very excited to welcome Todd for a guest post about part of the inspiration behind Bad Moon, and how the country lost a little bit of its innocence because of one little boy.

Todd RitterIt happens far too often now. A child — sometimes a baby, often an adolescent — suddenly disappears. It hits the local news. Then goes national. Then Nancy Grace is spouting theories and pointing fingers. Overnight, everyone knows the child’s name. They see the same family-selected photo printed in their newspapers and flashed on their TV screens. Time passes — be it days, weeks or months — and the child is found. Sometimes the news is happy. Usually, it isn’t. And then the names, the photographs, the incident itself fade from memory.

Some of these missing children, though, stay lodged in our collective memories, for one reason or another. We remember their names, if not their pictures. Adam Walsh, for spurring his father’s continuing crusade for justice. Caylee Anthony, for the questions that still surround her death. Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard, for being two rare happy endings.

A select few end up making history. The kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby — Charles Jr., although he hasn’t been called that since 1932 — riveted the nation and set the gold standard for media circuses. The case fascinates still today. I should know. I live a mere eight miles from where Charles Jr. was abducted. Until recently, the courthouse where the trial was held did annual reenactments.

And then there’s Etan Patz.

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The White Room by John Tomaino

October 7, 2011 by  •
The White Room by John TomainoIt’s only for a couple of days, she told herself. Just a few days. Keep it together. I can do this. – Jodie Sykes

Newly minted PhD in Psychology in-hand, Jodie Sykes is thrilled when she’s offered a chance to participate in research with Professor David Byrne, a man whose psychology textbook she used during the process of obtaining her postgraduate degrees.

Her enthusiasm is quickly tempered, however, when she learns that Byrne wants her to gather research on the treatment of institutionalized mental patients… by going undercover in an institution as a patient.

Despite her misgivings, she convinces herself that it’s not as dangerous as it sounds. After all, since she’ll be signing in as a voluntary patient if things get too intense she’ll just sign herself out.

Professor Byrne, of course, has other plans. Unbeknownst to Jodie, it’s Byrne’s intention to use her as the test subject in a study of near total sensory deprivation.

With the help of a few complicit staff members Byrne manipulates Jodie’s behavior to the point she is acting out and able to be classified as a threat to herself and others. For the “safety” of everyone involved Jodie is placed in lockdown. Except this isn’t any ordinary solitary confinement, it’s the White Room.

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Sue Grafton Blog Tour – R is for Ricochet

October 4, 2011 by  •

Welcome to the third stop on Sue Grafton’s Blog Tour. In order to celebrate the forthcoming November 14th release of V is for Vengeance, ten bloggers are reviewing the five most recent entries in the Kinsey Millhone series to refresh your memory and help you hit the ground running. There’s also information about a great contest from Penguin as well as an excerpt from V is for Vengeance below today’s review.

R is for Ricochet by Sue GraftonIn the passing drama of life, I’m usually the heroine, but occasionally I’m simply a minor character in someone else’s play. – Kinsey Millhone

The 18th entry in Sue Grafton’s alphabet series, R is for Ricochet, finds Santa Teresa, California-based private investigator Kinsey Millhone summoned to the mansion of multi-millionaire Nord Lafferty to discuss a job offer. Lafferty’s daughter, Reba, is set to be paroled from prison after serving nearly two years for embezzlement and Lafferty wants Kinsey to pick Reba up and keep an eye on her “until she’s reestablished herself.”

Sounds easy enough, a glorified babysitting job really, right? Wrong.

Things get complicated quickly when Reba meets up with real estate developer Alan “Beck” Beckwith, her former lover and employer – the same one she embezzled from. Turns out Beck is being investigated for money-laundering by numerous law enforcement agencies, a fact that is brought to Kinsey’s attention by Lieutenant Cheney Phillips, Santa Teresa’s local liaison to the federal investigation.

The Feds want Reba to help them nail Beck, and as incentive to get her to do so they provide Kinsey with photos to show Reba of Beck two-timing her with her best friend…who also happens to hold Reba’s old job. Sufficiently incensed, Reba agrees to help take Beck down. Unfortunately, Reba has her own ideas about the best way to do that, leaving Kinsey scrambling to keep up as things spiral out of control.

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Dead Wood by Dani Amore

October 4, 2011 by  •
Dead Wood by Dani AmoreYou know, I’ve made so many fucking mistakes in my lifetime that one more wouldn’t hurt. – John Rockne

John Rockne may have made many mistakes in his lifetime – haven’t we all – but it’s one in particular that sticks with him. While a young cop on the Grosse Pointe, Michigan police force he made a judgment call one bitter New Year’s evening, one that ended up costing a young man his life. Unable to face his fellow officers again Rockne walked away from the job, choosing to make his administrative leave permanent.

He didn’t leave Grosse Pointe entirely, however, instead setting up shop as a private investigator. And despite the seriousness of that past mistake Rockne has, for the most part, put it behind him. He has a beautiful wife, two young daughters he worships, and makes a modest living carrying a Nikon instead of a gun.

When a local artist is murdered in her guitar workshop the police write it off as a burglary gone bad. The young woman’s father doesn’t buy it. He’s convinced his daughter’s ex-boyfriend killed her, and hires Rockne to investigate the case further.

Before he knows it Rockne is in the crosshairs of an ex-con, a shadowy assassin, a high profile musician and her P.R. team in full damage control mode, and the Grosse Pointe Chief of Police to boot. Maybe that one more mistake is gonna hurt after all.

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Mystics Predicts Future Accurately! by Graham Parke

October 3, 2011 by  •
Hey, guess who’s back? Graham Parke. Yep, the No Hope for Gomez! author has been a frequent visitor here, and I’m happy to welcome him and his off the wall ramblings back. Today, boys and girls, Graham is going to tell us about the ancient Chinese art of Goki Feng Ho.

No Hope For Gomez! by Graham ParkeI’ve recently become a master in Goki Feng Ho, the ancient Chinese art of decoding license plates. It has, you can imagine, changed my life dramatically and for the better.

Like most practitioners, I’ve always had this suspicion that there’s more to life. That we can’t be mere random collections of molecules with no higher purpose than figuring out how not to soil ourselves while we keep our bodies running as long as possible. Such a view has always seemed too arbitrary to me. So, ever since I was a child, whenever I saw my initials – or part of my date of birth – pop up on a car license plate, I’d get that uneasy feeling. As if there was something I needed to do, or that I was supposed to realize. As if someone was sending me coded messages. Even at a very young age, I understood that something like Goki Feng Ho must exist, and that I was drawn to it like a moth to a particularly nice lady moth.

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Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs

September 30, 2011 by  •
Southern Gods by John Hornor JacobsDo not call up what you cannot put down. – The Little Book of Night

Things would have gone so much easier for Bull Ingram if only someone long ago had heeded that warning. Instead, when the WWII vet is hired to find a missing man in rural Arkansas things get really weird, really fast.

Turns out it’s not only a missing music scout that his employer, a Memphis DJ, wants Ingram to find. He’s also charged with tracking down a pirate radio station that plays the haunting music of a mysterious blues man known as Ramblin’ John Hastur.

Whispers and rumors hold that Hastur’s music is evil, the result of him selling his soul to the devil in exchange for his gift. A hard man and former Marine, Ingram isn’t daunted in the slightest by such mumbo jumbo and sets off to earn his pay.

Meanwhile, a woman, Sarah, and her young daughter have fled an abusive situation and found their way back to Sarah’s childhood home, a sprawling plantation in rural Gethsemane, Arkansas. It slowly becomes clear that something is very wrong in Gethsemane, and that the darkness shrouding the old plantation goes far beyond family secrets thought long hidden and buried.

Exactly how the darkness Ingram is following and the darkness following Sarah and her ancestral home are connected is expertly woven together by debut author John Hornor Jacobs in one of the most intense and enjoyable books I have read this year.

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Storming Heaven by John Hornor Jacobs

September 29, 2011 by  •
Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing Southern Gods, the powerful debut novel from author John Hornor Jacobs, but am very excited to welcome him today for an amazingly frank guest post about the creeping ambition that begins with the desire to write “a simple tale, well told.”

Storming Heaven by John Hornor JacobsAudacity.

It’s funny, for a guy who claims to think no one can teach another person how to write, I sure do write about the act of writing a lot, like a snake devouring its own tail. What’s the point? Go write a manuscript and then we’ll talk.

But still. There are subjects that niggle, that pester. There are half-formed thoughts immaterialized in my haunted house of a noggin. And I feel like I should explore them, head up into that ghostly attic with a flashlight and poke around. And so I shall, at Elizabeth A. White’s expense.

Audacity.

When I first began writing, I was happy to just finish my first manuscript, SOUTHERN GODS. All I wanted to do was to see if I could complete a novel. And once I do, hey, I’ll be totally happy. That will be enough. That’s all I want. But, then, once the book was complete, something twisted in me, and the worm of ambition shifted and burrowed into my liver and I thought, I just want to SEE if I can get it published, because that’s how the worm of ambition works, it adjusts our goals only slightly as it seats itself firmly in the flesh, tugging at the fibers and sinew, sinking into the organs. All I want is to be published. It’s fine, even, if it’s a small press. I’ll be totally happy with that. Once that happens, I can die happy. But just having a stack of papers with a novel printed on them isn’t enough. And then, when the first publisher accepted my book, and my friend John Rector asked if I’d signed anything and I said no and he replied, “Let me introduce you to this agent I met and I think you’d be a good match,” the worm twisted in me again and suddenly new vistas opened before me to plunder. I wanted more, then, than just a small press deal. I wanted an agent. I wanted to my books to be in stores.

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Apostle Rising by Richard Godwin

September 27, 2011 by  •
Apostle Rising by Richard Godwin“Listen as if your life depended on it because you’ve entered a very strange and murky world, and things won’t be the same for you again…” – Frank Castle

Detective Chief Inspector Frank Castle knows what he’s talking about, having descended deep down into a strange and murky world 28 long years ago. When he was still a young officer Castle was involved in the hunt for the “Woodlands Killer,” so named because of the location the horribly mutilated victims were found.

Though Castle was convinced the killer was a man named Karl Black, not only could Castle not gather enough evidence to have Black arrested, but Black was able to play mind games with Castle that had devastating consequences. Determined to prove Black was the killer, Castle spiraled into an obsession that cost him his marriage, a great deal of respect among his colleagues, and very nearly his sanity.

The “Woodlands Killer” was never caught.

Now, 28 years later, a new series of killings are occurring that mimic those from long ago. His colleagues think it the work of a copycat, but Castle isn’t so sure. Especially not with Karl Black still in the area, now running a sinister cult and every bit as willing to jump back into playing mind games with Castle. This time, however, Castle isn’t alone in his pursuit of Black. His young partner, DI Jackie Stone, is ready and willing to help Castle tackle the case. But as Castle sees Stone starting to fall into the same pattern of obsession and self-destruction he went through Castle is forced to make a tough choice: pursue Black at all costs, or save Stone – and himself – from a descent into the depths of madness?

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The Lonely Mile by Allan Leverone

September 26, 2011 by  •
The Lonely Mile by Allan LeveroneHe had been at it so long and taken so many girls that the details of all but the most recent kidnappings had begun to merge together into a kind of delicious, nostalgic stew.
– Martin Krall

If you had a chance to save someone’s life, to be a hero, would you do it even if you knew your actions would have disastrous consequences for your own family? Or could you knowingly allow a horrific fate to befall a young woman without doing anything to intervene?

Bill Ferguson didn’t have time to consider the answer to that question before his hand was forced and he made a decision that drastically altered the lives of two young women, one of them his own daughter.

While sitting in a rest stop along I-90 on one of his runs between the hardware shops he owns, Ferguson notices an abduction in process. Unfortunately, he’s the only one who appears to realize what’s happening. Acting on adrenaline and instinct, Ferguson pulls the gun he’s licensed to carry on the would-be kidnapper, forcing him to abandon the abduction.

The young woman is saved, Ferguson’s a hero, and all’s right with the world. Right? Wrong.