Friday, June 04, 2021

Short Reviews - Unique Books

For some unknown reason I go through various phases of writing activity that last for a short time, then fade away at the command of the Fates or Casper the Friendly Ghost or whoever it is that controls these kinds of things.  Eventually, these activities roll around again, disappear, come back around.  Time is just a coiled snake swallowing its own tail. 

Recently, I was asked by some very different writers if I would read their upcoming books and, if I were so inclined, to write about my reactions to the books.  Of course, I am always surprised and honored when I get such requests, although I always caution whoever is asking me that I am a slow reader and I need a hard copy to read, no digital drafts.  In any event, I realize that the blurbs I come up with are in the nature of reviews.  That being so, here are four mini reviews of a collection of books that have very little in common but that are all excellent.  


All That Is Secret
Patricia Raybon

Tyndale House - October 5, 2021

Patricia Raybon’s All That Is Secret is a fast-paced, intriguing mystery that grabs and holds the reader from the opening Prologue.  Set in 1923 Denver, at the height of KKK power and influence in Colorado, the story of a young theologian’s search for the truth about her father’s murder is more than only the gathering of clues by the amateur detective. Annalee Spain confronts questions and doubts about the meaning of justice, love in times of social and political crises, racism, and, eventually, her own beleaguered but resilient faith.  All That Is Secret may take place in the Roaring Twenties, but there is no doubt that it is timely and relevant, and that it speaks directly to today’s world in turmoil.


Gone Missing in Harlem
Karla FC Holloway
Northwestern University Press - April, 2021

Karla FC Holloway’s incandescent characters and lyrical imagery inhabit a mystery story that probes one of life’s greatest puzzles – the secrets of the human heart. From the time-locked deep south to the vibrant streets of Harlem, Holloway’s intimate portrayal of African American life during the Great Depression transports readers to a time and place that may be all too recognizable for some, and unknown and hidden to others. Gone Missing in Harlem is brilliant: unforgettable, troubling, surprising, and, ultimately, completely satisfying.


Tomas Alamilla, Mario Acevedo
Five Star Publishing - April, 2021

The frontier town of Luther, Wyoming is a hardscrabble dot on the prairie map where the bad guys are clearly and always bad, and the good guys are sometimes good, sometimes bad.

Tomas Alamilla and Mario Acevedo have created realistic characters for an action-packed story filled with tense gunfights, barroom brawls, explosive jail breaks, and deadly ambushes. Adam Sanchez is the lone stranger who rides into town with a broken heart from a love destroyed by bigotry. He teams up with an old friend, Sheriff Cook, who served with Sanchez in the War Between the States. Together the men take on a gang of outlaws terrorizing the town. Sanchez risks his life for his friend and his love, and he must test not only his sharpshooting skills but also his courage.

Before the final bullet has been fired, Sanchez struggles with the meaning of friendship and loyalty, the temptation of honest men and their guilt for succumbing to that temptation, and the uneasy balance between justice and vengeance.


Beneath Cruel Waters
Jon Bassoff

Blackstone - 2022

Jon Bassoff’s writing is as gritty as a bloodstained baby blanket. His latest, Beneath Cruel Waters, is a disturbing tale of secrets and sins that challenges the myths at the heart of a most dangerous institution – the family. This relentless exposure of one man’s destructive re-creation of his forgotten past rejects and then recasts assumptions about the redemptive power of forgiveness and the saving grace of the truth. Readers beware. Buckle up for a nightmarish trip through more than one level of American hell.



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