Ruth Rendell Dead at 85 Another English Literary Treasure Gone

George Baker as Inspector Wexford with Louie Ramsey as Dora Wexford
Ruth Rendell, creator of the popular Inspector Wexford Mysteries, has died aged 85 and England has lost another literary treasure just months after P D James, who brought poet and police commander Adam Dalgleish to life passed on. Both ladies of crime had strong Suffolk links and Rendell, who suffered a stroke in January 2015, adored her adopted home in the country county. Both authors created “detectives” who became popular on the small screen as well.

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Dead Room by Chris Mooney Marvellous McCormick

 

dead-room_175This CSI Darby McCormick’s third outing, the first two being The Missing and Secret Friend. I am thrilled to make her acquaintance as I think she is a marvellous protagonist and one of the best female role models I’ve met in fiction today.

Darby McCormick is tough, gritty, uncomplaining, extremely smart and very good at what she does. In her world it is a case of “like father, like daughter” as she followed her father’s footsteps to be an upholder of the law.

At the beginning of the book, she is the last woman left in SWAT training and her male colleagues have dwindled to just a handful. While she is finishing her last practical exam, a woman and her son are being tortured and killed. When Darby leaves the training ground, she gets the call to attend the crime scene.

Once at the crime scene, it turns out that the boy isn’t dead, it appears that someone shot their way into the house to save him. Now Darby has a wild card to wonder about as she tries to track down the killers.

This story will dredge up old skeletons for the Boston Police Department as well as the FBI and Darby’s favourite lab partner Cooper ‘Coop’ Jackson. Bad men thought long dead will come back to life and threaten everything that Darby cares about. It will bring her face to face with her father’s and Coop’s past and it won’t be pretty.

Besides loving this book from the very first sentence, I fell in love with the protagonists. Especially McCormick the Irish Colleen cop who is almost the Dirty Harriet of her world. When you meet this incredible cop, you’ll wish all police were this capable.

Mooney writes a mean story. It is crisp, succinct, fast paced and hard to put down. While I didn’t read this in a single sitting, I came damned close. As I read it on the ibook reader, I didn’t have the problem of not turning the pages quick enough, but it was close. This mystery/cop/thriller has introduced me to a new hero and a new writer; one which will be taking a spot in my new stable of ebook writers.

This was a real corker of a read and it earns a full 5 out of 5 stars for me, for having a fantastically twisting plot, high octane action and a backstory that will make you shudder at the way a man can “rule” a township.

An instant classic, this is available from booksellers and is on the Kindle and iBooks.

Author Chris Mooney
Author Chris Mooney

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lust, Money & Murder by Mike Wells

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I was introduced to this book by the author Mike Wells via Twitter. After presenting me with a link to a free reading of his first of a new series, I eagerly jumped at the chance to meet a new author and his work.

I was not disappointed.

The book’s prologue sets the pace of the entire story. We are privy to the machinations of a suave older man who appears to like younger women and the finer things of life. He also likes counterfeit money and after he uses his young female pigeon to pass the fake money on, he removes her. Permanently.

We then meet the books protagonist Elaine Brogan, as her name implies, she’s of Irish lineage and her doting father does everything in his power to provide for her and her mother. This includes some things that are not “above-board.” When she goes off to a private school her father Patrick pays the schools exorbitant fees. He also works hard at the school to ensure that Elaine is accepted.

When Elaine graduates, she meets someone who entices her to join a modelling agency. It’s a scam and it costs her more money than she can afford. After storming into the agency’s office and demanding her money back, she gets paid in counterfeit bills. When Patrick goes to deposit the money, he is accused and sentenced for passing “funny” money.

Elaine swears that what ever it takes she will avenge her father and ultimately she joins the Secret Service with this goal in mind. While training to become an agent she focusses on the man who caused her father to be imprisoned.

I liked Elaine and her “single-minded” goals. She comes across as an overachiever but one that is personable and real. This first book in the series introduces the reader to an immediate back story and sets the stage for further tales of Elaine in her counterfeiting world. Wells has a knack for making his characters feel real; including the naughty boy Secret Service agent, Nick LaGrange, that Elaine falls for in Sofia, Bulgaria. He is charismatic and personable; it’s easy to see why Elaine falls so hard.

The book moves at a cracking pace and does not lag at any point. I was able to read it in a single sitting and enjoyed every minute. I’m looking forward to reading more of Mr Wells’ work.

A real 5 stars out of 5 for action and pace.

Author Mike Wells.
Author Mike Wells.

Hollywood Hills by Joseph Wambaugh: They’re Back

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Former cop turned author Joseph Wambaugh is one of my favourite writers. His books and the characters who reside in them are brilliant. They are full of black humour, pathos, tragedy, and fun. Each and every participant in one of his books breathe. You find your self becoming attached to them all, even the villains.

He writes pretty impressive non-fiction books as well. Check out his Lines and Shadows for an in-depth and amazing look at how one San Diego policeman tried to help the problems faced by immigrants crossing the border. Innocents being slaughtered and raped by the gangs that prowled the empty desert canyons for victims.

But I digress.

Hollywood Hills is the fourth in a series of books about the cops that make up the Hollywood division in LA. Most of the familiar cast are back. “Hollywood Nate” Weiss the Screen Actors Guild card carrying cop, Flotsam and Jetsam the two surfer cops, and ex-basketball player Div Taylor and her partner ex-marine “The Gypsy” all feature heavily in this tale of Hollywood homicide and hokum.

There is a crime ring that is hitting all celebrity homes and robbing them blind. They use social networking to plan their robberies. Butler Raleigh Dibble works for Julius Hampton, a miserly skinflint that keeps Raleigh on a short leash. While at lunch the two men run into gay Art Gallery owner Nigel Wickland. Wickland tells Raleigh of an employment opportunity with widowed Leona Brueger, a member of the Hollywood elite and voracious cougar who has an interest in Hollywood Nate.

Soon Raleigh has jumped the Hamilton ship and set sail with Leona looking after her ill brother. Wickland now has Raleigh where he wants him and the two men plan to steal two very expensive pieces of art from the widow.

Twenty-two year old druggie Jonas Claymore and his equally drugged out girl friend Megan Burke decide to emulate the celebrity crime ring, dubbed the Bling Ring by the local media, and improve their chances of keeping supplied with the drug of their choice OxyContin. It is their entry into the world of crime that causes a serendipitous intermingling of their crime wave with Dibble’s and Wickland’s.

Meanwhile Hollywood Nate thinks he’s going to finally get the big break he’s been waiting for and the rest of the gang at the Hollywood division carry on dealing with the “not-so-normal” dealings with the nuts that make up the local citizenry that they are pledged to protect.

Like the other three books in this series, Hollywood Hills is damned entertaining. Wambaugh continues to treat us to our favourite characters everyday dilemma’s and introduces a few new ones. The pages of his books exude a poetic irony and delicious amount of crazy.

I do have to say that the “secondary” criminals in this book do seem to shadow some characters in his other books. But dealing with criminals on a daily basis for 10 years myself, I can say with pretty firm conviction, there isn’t a whole lot of variation between the folks who populate the world of the law-breaker.

A real 5 star addition to Wambaugh’s series about the Hollywood precinct.

Author Joseph Wambaugh. (courtesy of nndb)
Author Joseph Wambaugh. (courtesy of nndb)

Family Legacy by Jack O’Halloran Memories of a Mafioso’s Son

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Just in case you didn’t know, author Jack O’Halloran has been many things in his lifetime. He was a professional Heavyweight Boxer from 1966 to 1974. He’s been an actor and worked in ten feature films (most notably Superman I and II) and done a fair share of television. He manages Long Beach Studios and he is an author. (Information courtesy of Wikipedia)

This man has been busy.

His first book is Family Legacy. A story about a young man who, after being told that his father died in the second world war, finds out that he is alive and well. Not only did he not die, he’s Albert Anastasia, aka Umberto Anastasio, aka the head of Murder Inc. One of the most notorious men in the history of organised crime.

This young man’s name is Jack Pagano. A “normal” high school student who is a star football player and who has a friend called Rip who teaches him about self-defence and other useful things.

When Jack comes home to find Albert Anastasia sitting  in his kitchen drinking coffee with his mother, he’s surprised. He’s even further surprised when he finds out that Albert is his “dead” father.

Jack doesn’t have very long to let this new information sink in before Anastasia is murdered while getting his hair cut. Jack is immediately thrust into the world of organised crime and he begins the long road toward his destiny.

This was an entertaining first book. Based on real characters who were active in the world of crime and politics back in the 1950’s and 60’s. Using this “real world” base for his starting block, the book feels almost like a “true crime” novel instead of a work of fiction. We follow Jack as he learns who he can trust and who he cannot.

We also feel his confusion when the lines between friend and foe become blurred putting his life and those he loves in danger. Events in the book run up to the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas on the 22nd of November 1963 and the after effects of this obscene act. The book ends in a way that leads me to believe that there are more stories about Jack and his new cronies in the secret world of the Mafia.

The canvas of the book includes the Kefauver hearings and the machinations of Joe Kennedy and others behind the scenes who insured that JFK would win the election. It also shows the tensions of the Cuba crisis from the personal level of Jack’s new girlfriend as well as the publicised paranoia.

I enjoyed the book and gave it a 4 out of 5 stars because the book, to me, lagged in places. I was not expecting a breakneck pace, but, in order to give all the background it tends to slow down and distract from the overall action. It does not happen often and certainly not enough to hurt the book. But it did cause me to drop that fifth star.

Great book and one wonders if it is somewhat autobiographical in nature as O’Halloran himself revealed that he is the son of the infamous Anastasia. I don’t know about that, but I do know that he’s lead an interesting and varied life and it shows in his first book.

Bravo Jack. I want to read more about Jack Pagano and his “rise” in the organisation.

The author Jack O'Halloran.
The author Jack O’Halloran.