The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver (a book blurt)

I gave up my workout session to read the final chapters of this book and when I finished, I wanted more. Thankfully, this new book is the beginning of a new series, featuring Colter Shaw, a traveling survivalist whose job is to seek monetary rewards for, among other things, finding lost people. Based on his upbringing and his now-deceased parents’ rich assets, Shaw sounds like he could afford to choose which rewards to collect. The story starts with Shaw tracking a distraught father’s missing teen-aged daughter. The outcome leads to another missing person with the events mirroring a once-popular video game. True to Deaver’s style, this suspense story is one twist after another with subplots that are just as engaging as the main one. Additionally, the reader gets interesting insight about the gaming world and some survivalist know-how. Game on with this one!

Kill the Angel by Sandrone Dazieri (a book blurt)

This is the second of a book series about an emotionally damaged savant, Dante Torre, who is unlike any other hero. The first book, Kill the Father, is when we are introduced to Dante, who as a child was abducted and spent much of his years growing up isolated in a silo. While there, he developed his skills and sharpened his senses, as means to survive and eventually escape. The second book has an antagonist whose years from birth to puberty resemble Dante’s early isolation. Unlike Dante’s, the antagonist’s fate takes an evil turn that results in multiple tragic events. Through Deputy Police Chief Colomba Caselli, a traumatized law enforcer who experienced her own share of violence earlier on, Dante finds himself once again helping solve a crime that begins with a train full of dead bodies. Set in Europe, the story is full of fascinating characters and twists that make you want to skip sleeping.

The list below is in the order I’ve read Dazieri’s books. Expect this to grow as I enjoy more of his work.

Kill the Father
Kill the Angel

Mean Business on North Ganson Street by S. Craig Zahler (a book blurt)

The writer of this book has also written and directed two movies – Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99. His treatment of the book is not much different in how he evokes images of jarring violence and graphic gore. Here, such intensity is combined with snappy writing and colorful characters. The book tells a story about a disgraced detective, Jules Bettinger, who is transferred to the “armpit” of America. This is a place where crime is the mainstay; it’s safe to say the ratio of crime-fighters to criminals is comparable to one person’s chances of winning the lottery. Not wanting to see his family live in the same city where he works, Bettinger suffers daily through an 85-mile one-way commute from home to his “new” police headquarters.  But his work is even worse. He soon finds himself in trying to solve a double homicide that causes a string of events of increasing violent consequences and shocking climax.

Double Entry by Don Sweeney (a book blurt)

The story immediately sets up to what will lead to a murder and a case of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Toward the end, I didn’t want to put the book down because I had to know if the wrongly accused will be vindicated against the odds. This is a debut book by a lawyer who not only writes expertly on courtroom scenes, but in a very compelling way, too.  The main storyline, intriguing subplots, and R-rated sex scenes all come together into a cohesive and smooth read. Weaved in are some interesting facts about pearls, a quirky scientific cellular material, and a way to cheat using technology. Although this is the writer’s first novel, he has published a short story in a literary magazine. What’s even more inspirational to me is that several years back, the author and I were in a writing group together, along with four or five other aspiring scribes.  Today, three in our group have had at least one work published, so I am fortunate to have been in the company of talented writers.

Recommend the book to your local library. To read it immediately, go to Amazon.com:

https://www.amazon.com/Double-Entry-Donald-N-Sweeney/dp/1946731021/ref=sr_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503930272&sr=1-12&keywords=double+entry

The Yellow Handkerchief (a movie blurt)

At once a mystery and a love story, this road trip movie shows how three unlikely people come together to eventually trust and help one another in more ways than one. The three travelers are played by William Hurt, a newly released, middle-aged ex-convict; Kristen Stewart, a lonely young woman with insight beyond her years; and Eddie Redmayne, an awkward but earnest young man wanting to see more of the country in his big old American car. Together they travel the backroads of the southern bayou, unloading their emotional baggage and gradually finding hope. Prepare for a tear or two at the end.

. . . Home for Christmas: Part 2 of 4

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

[Part 1]

“Dec. 22: I’m so mad. I can’t believe I slept through the night. I lost so much good driving time! What the hell?  I set my smartphone’s alarm, but it didn’t go off. Soon after I woke up, I started driving, but I can’t seem to find my bearing. There’s no reception; my radio just spews out static. My smartphone’s good for shite. And my once-trusty compass keeps spinning around in circles as its hand goes round and round. So it’s no good here either. Weird.

I got out of the car to see if I can find anyone. Strange how silent it is out here. No wildlife sounds of any kind, or even the distant drone of a jet airplane. All I see is long stretches of dirt road with odd-looking trees. Never seen the likes of them. I tried to take a picture with my smartphone, but it’s a dud. I’m going to hike around to look for some kind of a bird’s eye view.”

To be continued

. . . Home for Christmas: Part 1 of 4

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

Deep in the woods of Pine Valley somewhere in the northeast part of the new country is where shadows rule the isolated acres of trees. Only a few have ventured there. Among them was a poor soul by the name of Kevin McCue; he took a wrong turn as he drove on the long, winding, mind numbing drive up toward the hills. His destination was supposed to be a cozy cabin in a small town called Spruce, to celebrate Christmas with his young family. Instead, he made a detour that fateful day.

Later on, his journal was found near the Zipcar he drove. The rented Honda Civic was in a ditch. Yet there was no sign of Mr. McCue anywhere. As caretaker and Sheriff of Pine Valley, I pored over the journal to find a clue of his demise. And right now I don’t feel optimistic.

Peruse the journal entries for yourself, Mr. Lang, so you can confirm what you need to with his grieving wife. Please make yourself comfortable and read, while I pour you a cup of tea.

“Dec. 21: I’m excited to see my baby Nicole and my beautiful wife, Penny. I told Penny this is the last long distance trip I’ll take for the next two years. I’m going to be home more often so Nicole will know she’s got a daddy. I’ve been driving for eight solid hours and I’m getting tired. The weather has been surprisingly mild up here in the hills. I’ve decided to stop in Pine Valley to take a quick nap and then resume driving. My head is starting to feel light, so I’m going to stop writing for now and get me some sleep.”

To be continued

The Ugly Sweater Chronicles: Unraveled

[A trilogy of “seamy” stories about the lure of ugly sweaters. 3 of 3; see 2]

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

Detective David LaFoote, along with his new junior partner, Detective Tobias LaFitte, shoulder their way in through the door. They look around the studio apartment, struck by the multitude of paper types pinned to a big bulletin board on the wall. Beneath all the newspaper clippings, invitation cards, and business letterhead is a large map of the metropolis. Different strands of colored yarn, connected by pins, point to specific locations on the map. Suddenly they hear a gasp and see a man cowering in the corner.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” the man whines. He is wearing a green sweater with a big snowman on the front, grinning back at them. “I’m taking what’s been due me for years . . .” He rubs his nose, as he asserts himself.

“Save your breath, buster. When I was growing up I was told to crochet my own sweater. I got a ball of yarn, while my classmates had their ugly sweaters already made.” LaFoote shakes his head, marveling at how his deeply buried memories so readily surface.

“I’m really sorry to hear what happened to you, but at least you were given some colorful material to knit something new. All I ever received when I was growing up was a picture of an ugly sweater from a mail-order catalog.” The man is now raving on and on.

“Spare me any more sob stories. You’re going down.” Detective LaFoote motions to his partner and speaks with authority. “Book him, Danno–for burglary and grand larceny!”

“Um, David. The name’s LaFitte.”

“Can’t you just be Danno for today? I’m really feeling like the 5-0 right now,” says LaFoote, harkening back to his grade school years of adoring the original “Hawaii Five-0” series on Friday nights.  LaFoote strides away, glad but weary from the long hours of finally cracking open the Ugly Sweater Serial Stealer case.

[To see the first story, see 1.]

The Ugly Sweater Chronicles: Pilfered

[A trilogy of “seamy” stories about the lure of ugly sweaters. 2 of 3; See 1 of 3]

sweaters

Christmas music plays through the tinny speakers in the function room of the once popular downtown hotel. In spite of the worn carpet and faded drapes framing the bottle glass windows, the people getting ready for the Annual Ugly Sweater Convention are happily lining up chairs to create a stage. One of the highly anticipated events is the ugly sweater parade around the room and the judging. The grand prize winner receives an original, one-of-a-kind ugly sweater crocheted by one of the judges.

“I can hardly wait until you show us what you’ve crocheted, Henrietta,” Jody says to the petite woman helping her set up the chairs.

“Tell us the story behind what you’ve created.” Linda, another judge pipes in, as she joins them in getting their stage ready.

“Given that I had a whole year to think about it, I feel as if my hands connected well with my brain, because I just let them both go to town,” Henrietta says, smiling about the experience.

By this time, the rest of the judges have joined them. Henrietta beams at the attentiveness of her four colleagues toward her work. “The setting is classical–a wintry scene with a half-created snowman; that’s because Santa was interrupted by Rudolf the Red-nosed reindeer whose nose had fallen off. The elves are crawling about under a Christmas tree, which happens to be topped by Rudolf’s red nose.”

“How clever. It sounds intricate,” Donny, the only male judge says.

“Yes, I used a lot of different colors to make them all stand out.”

“We better get a move on. People are streaming in. Why, look at that ugly sweater.” The other judges look in the direction she’s gazing. Suitably impressed, they conclude all the sweaters are ugly. They disband and mingle with the crowd.

Soon after the end of the ugly sweater story telling event, the parade starts. About a hundred or so people walk around the room, proudly displaying their frontal artwork to the five judges, each absorbed and taking notes, some murmuring among themselves.

At long last, the judges come to their final decision. As the one who crocheted the prize, Henrietta announces the winner. She wheels in a clothes rack, which has a vinyl garment bag hanging from the top. Eagerly, she unzips the opaque casing. As she takes out the sweater, she gapes as she sees a plain red sweater without the swirls, pomp-poms, appliques, ribbons, and yards of yarn she has applied. She sputters, “This is not the sweater I made!”

One of the judges cries out, “Someone has stolen it!”

Never before in the history of the event has this ever happened. Without much experience in such matters, the Ugly Sweater Convention planners promise the good people that day that they will launch a full investigation. Leading the charge will be the famed Detective David LaFoote, well known in their town as the sharpest tool in the shed.