Friday, February 27, 2015

Review: Darkness Under the Sun

Eleven-year-old Howie apparently likes exploring abandoned buildings. Once inside the old emporium, he climbs to the roof and stumbles upon Alton Blackwood. Howie and Alton share one characteristic: disfigurement, and they become fast friends. Howie doesn't understand why the entirety of a grown man's existence consists of moving from shadow to shadow. Youthful innocence prompts Howie to invite Alton to rent a room at his parent's house. That's when Howie runs home to prepare sandwiches and grab a few photos of his family to share, but upon his return to the roof, Alton is absent. Left behind is a backpack containing incriminating evidence. Is it too late? Can Howie return home in time to warn his parents and sister? Can he save others who might fall into Alton's path?

Darkness Under the Sun is short story that set's up Dean Koontz novel entitled "What the Night Knows." I gave "Darkness" 4-stars, but 4.5-Stars is a more accurate rating. It's very good if you like dark suspense.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Reviews

I don't always review the books I read, but recently, for some unexplained reason, I decided to chime-in on a few. These reviews are also posted at Goodreads and Amazon.com.

ODD THOMAS - YOU ARE DESTINED TO BE TOGETHER FOREVER by DEAN KOONTZ  ***** This was my first Kindle Short download. I've read several, though not all, of the Odd Thomas series, so this prequel was a nice reminder of Oddie's paranormal abilities. I especially like the cameo appearances by Elvis Presley. Most of all, I like the way Koontz mixes humor and catastrophe. I've always felt that horror and the paranormal do not have to be all blood and guts. Glad to know that Koontz agrees. 


BLOOD MEMORY By GREG ILES  **** Catherine “Cat” Ferry has a lot on her plate. New Orleans police and the FBI need her special skills to catch a serial killer. Unfortunately, she’s addicted to vodka and suffering mental and emotional breakdowns at the crime scene. But there’s much more to Cat’s problems. Returning home to Natchez, MS (the author’s hometown), a chance discovery puts Cat in touch with excruciating childhood memories. She recounts the murder of her father twenty years ago and the abuse suffered at his hands – or at least that’s what she has been led to believe. Recalling the trauma is as difficult as solving the New Orleans murders.

Over the course of 800 pages, Greg Iles takes us back and forth between the two cities: to murder scenes, repressed dreams, visits with Cat’s Grandpapa (a pillar of the community), an eccentric psychiatrist who knows Cat more intimately than anyone should, and a list of savory and unsavory locals. Is there a connection between Cat’s abuse and the murders? Is Cat involved?

I expected a lot of red herrings, dead ends and filler in these 800 pages. I was pleasantly surprised that the novel held my interest throughout. Greg Iles is a master storyteller. Though Blood Memory is not my favorite book by the author, I give it a solid 4-stars.


THE NEIGHBOR by DEAN KOONTZ  ***** The Neighbor is a short story by Dean Koontz. The house next door sits vacant. Mr. Clockenwall died of a massive heart attack a month earlier. Twelve-year-old, Malcolm, viewed the old man, a retired English teacher, as quiet, one who kept to himself. But one night, an unusual sound drew Malcolm and his older sister, Amalia, into the vacant home. Amalia confides that Mr. Clockenwall gave her the creeps, and for good reason. She admonished Malcolm never to set foot in his home alone. Malcolm can’t resist. Forces working beyond Malcolm’s control draw him into home. He finds scrapbooks, pictures and newspaper clippings. In the basement, he finds more evidence of a man with problems. Will the force overcome him? And his sister?


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Review: Last Second Chance - 5-Stars

Last Second Chance is a novel by my friend and fellow author, Kristi Cramer:

Tim Reardon has paid his debt to society — five years in prison. Now it’s time to pick up the pieces and start a new life, but jobs for ex-cons are scarce. A phone call to his sister, first met with skepticism, lands Tim his Last Second Chance. He’ll have to make the most of it or crash land back in prison. A bus ride later, Tim finds himself learning the ropes as a ranch hand in Kansas, far removed from the only life he’d known: meth runner in Denver for a well-stocked drug lord who just happens to be his ex-girlfriend. Five years removed, she is not ready to let go. And while adjusting to life on the prairie is paying off, a few ranch hands don’t take too kindly to Tim and his new-found love interest, Janie. Jealousy? Revenge? Perhaps, but it cuts a little deeper. Regardless, Tim is up against multiple forces that want to knock him down a few rungs on the ladder to say the least.

Last Second Chance is a cowboy romance that reads like a Louis L’Amour suspense novel. It’s sagebrush, trail dust and hard rides in the saddle set against a modern Kansas wilderness. And if you think you know how the story ends, prepare to be thrown from the saddle. Make no bones about it, author Kristi Cramer’s story meanders and flows like a Rocky Mountain stream. One minute you’re riding the current, the next you’re shooting the rapids, and by the time you catch your breath, you’re turning the pages of the final chapter. Don’t miss out on this one, partner. My recommendation is to take the reins and head on over to Amazon right now. Just try to put this book down. I dare you. No regrets on this 5-star read.

Calvin Dean

Coming in April

The Rookie Umpire is based on a true story. I'll post this 1800-word short story on WattPad, here and possibly other venues. Look for it at the start of the 2015 Major League Baseball season.