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TENDERLOIN: A Sleeper Hayes Novel ~Court Haslett

Monday, May 29th, 2017

TENDERLOIN is set in 1978 in San Francisco and is a fictional story that tells an actual crime story of that era.  Felt like I was reading ‘Dick Tracy’ books as it has a deft style that conveys a crime story with edginess and noir tendencies.  I could almost hear Garrison Keillor on the PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION reading this story as the P.I. ‘Guy Noir’, Although, it is not funny.  Great Tension!

The TENDERLOIN is a section of San Francisco and the buildings and bars mentioned in the story actually exist.  “Court Haslett has lived in SF for twenty years and conducted meticulous research in order to bring to life not only the gritty details and atmosphere of the TENDERLOIN, but all of 1970s SF.  He interviewed historians, former SF cops, the head of vice in the TENDERLIOIN during the 70s, and residents from that era.  The end result is a spot-on depiction of the iconic skid row culture of that time.” (Promotion material)

Do you remember the People’s Temple organized by the Reverend Jim Jones, who moved 900 of his followers to Guyana and plotted the Jonestown Massacre?  The group was founded in SF and had a building there.  Jim Jones had his fingers in a number of pots and added to the tumultuous, unruly, lawless time in the city’s history.  Lots of corruption going on and the mayor and the police departments were deeply involved.  A number of officials were murdered during this period.

Sleeper Hayes is the protagonist of the story and after the murder of a hooker and friend, whose sister was transported to Guyana, Hayes begins to unravel the mystery and the conspiracies taking place.  Boxing, music, poverty, and politics are a vital part of the story.  The pace is fast and the glimpses into SF’s history are captivating.

Meryl Zegarek Public Relations, INC. sent me a copy of this book for review: info@mzpr.com

“What a book TENDERLOIN is. This is a startling debut and surely the dawning of what is going to be a major writer. Just flat out delightful.” – Ken Bruen

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Court Haslett On Amazon

“…his work has been short-listed for the Faulkner-Wisdom Award.”

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DUPLICITY: A Novel of Suspense, A Julia Gooden Mystery ~Jane Haseldine

Monday, April 10th, 2017

DUPLICITY is a suspenseful tale about a journalist who writes about crime in Detroit.  Julia has to balance many parts of her life and has not totally come to terms with her 9-year-old brother’s disappearance years ago.  Her attorney husband is just starting to come home after straying to another’s bed and her young sons are anxious for a full reconciliation.  Husband is starting a trial against the biggest crime boss in the area and is trying to balance all the pieces to get a conviction.  Julia is covering the story and yet has to avoid talking about anything with her husband.  Her surprise witness story is scooped from her byline and this is adding stress.

We are part of the unfolding of a complicated truth that will make a profound difference to everyone’s future.  The tensions run high as Julia pieces together the various aspects of the story step by step and with the assistance of several police officers.   Her 2 sons end up in harms way and thus Julia must find safety for them in the process.  Thank goodness for her feisty nanny.

Other than a bombing blast for tension rather the story builds and builds with Julia’s discoveries and with her risking herself into the fray.  I believe Haseldine’s experiences as a crime reporter adds to the authenticity of the story and the details of the investigation.

Lots of readers will like this book.  DUPLICITY also has some strong relationship connections to interpret and those influence the outcomes.  Those who want big action will find it here at a steady pace.   Those who want to read about corruption and drug related crimes would be well satisfied.  It is a good second novel.  The book has merit and was a good read.  I enjoyed that is was not so gory as several books have been lately and it did not overwhelm my thinking or cause sleep deprivation.  I was worried about how Julia put her children so secondary on the list particularly with her past problems of abduction in her family.

A TLC Book Tours book

Jane Haseldine is a journalist, former crime reporter, columnist, newspaper editor, magazine writer, and deputy director of communications for a governor.  Jane graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a degree in journalism. She resides in Southern California with her husband and two sons, but previously lived in Boston, San Francisco, New York, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana. You can find her at janehaseldine.com, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.

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MISSISSIPPI BLOOD: A Novel – #3 of the NATCHEZ BURNING Trilogy ~Greg Iles

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

“Adrenaline-fueled excitement…A very American epic.”  (Washington Post)

“The endgame is at hand for Penn Cage, his family and the enemies working to destroy them in this exhilarating final volume in the epic Natchez Burning trilogy set in modern Natchez, Mississippi – Greg Iles’s bold and ambitious story of blood and honor, violence and revenge that explores how profoundly the sins of the past haunt the present.” (Book cover)

MISSISSIPPI BLOOD is another book I could not put down.  I read it cover to cover in two sittings during a rainy, windy weekend and then took a deep breath.  The writing is intense and does not let up right to the very last couple of pages – there is no relief in the speed in this whole series. One is compelled to find out who killed Viola Turner, the young black nurse who was raped twice by a gang of KKK men and her brother was skinned alive.  Turner has come home to die but someone has sent her off before she could tell her tale and Dr. Cage is being blamed.  Penn Cage, the mayor, is trying to save his father and find the truth as he loses more of the people he loves.

After I reviewed NATCHEZ BURNING, I persuaded 10 friends to read the book.  After I reviewed #2, THE BONE TREE, I persuaded another 10 friends to read book one and then two and wait with me for book #3. There is so much in these stories that I found to be true in my younger years living in the South.  I found that there was an ingrained mythology about events and history that I had no evidence for or could I achieve some foothold in making change.  Such as so many Southern folks did not believe that the Civil War was about Slavery – nope it was about State’s Rights!!!  I found myself teaching a psychology seminar to most of my peers because the psychology that the Professor was expounding was not true or reasonable. This trilogy was about what I believed was going on and actually happening.

It is truly difficult to believe that these things happened when wrapped up in a contemporary suspense story.  It is hard to image that a writer from Natchez, Mississippi could have figured things out and been open to exposing such ideas.  Then again maybe it is the local boy who can render change in his neighborhood with stories better than outsiders.  Just maybe we need him to restructure thoughts about government in general and our last election.  Iles is a master storyteller.

TLC Book Tours  sent me an advanced copy of MISSISSIPPI BLOOD for review – It is definitely 5 Stars.

“Greg Iles spend his youth in Natchez, Mississippi.  His first novel, SPANDAU PHOENIX, was the first of fifteen NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers, including THE QUIET GAME, TURNING ANGEL, THE DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL, which hit number one, NATCHEZ BURNING, and THE BONE TREE.  Iles’s novels have been made into films and published in more than thirty-five countries.  He is a member of the lit-rock group the ROCK BOTTOM Remainders, lives in Natchez, Mississippi, with his wife, and has two children.” (Cover)

Greg Iles Website
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THE FIFTH PETAL: A Novel ~Brunonia Barry

Monday, February 20th, 2017

THE FIFTH PETAL takes place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, 1989, and 2014.  In 1692, a number of women were hung from an oak tree and then their bodies were dumped into a mass grave.   In 1989, 3 young women had their throats cut while they were blessing their ancestors with one survivor and one 4-year-old daughter left.  In 2014, a young ancestor teenager dies at the same spot and the one previous survivor believes she became a Banshee and killed the boy.  The young girl from the 1989 kills is searching for just who she is and returns to Salem in her discovery journey.

The stage has been set for a revealing tale that is nearly impossible to put down.  Lots of secrets emerge through out the story and we travel the sights of the area and hear the poetry that was written about historic events.  We have bootlegging and pirates and smuggling stories that hold the story on a time line while the Police Detective and several current witches assist with solving the puzzle of the deaths.

Oh! And no witches were killed in 1692 though it was widely thought that that was what started it all as the first victims were all declared to be witches.

One would be wrong if they thought the story was just about witch trials and victims or if one thought it would turn into a Zombie tale – after all the new killer struck on Halloween.    The story is also about the history of the area and the Puritan standards being promoted.  The prejudicial thoughts of the tiny rules being imposed and which underline current understandings.  It is also a story about politics and mystery and even a bit of magic.  There are some thrilling moments and some amazing disguises being promoted, for the tourists and to keep the town sharing their bad feelings and perpetuating the myths.

The story too is about the mental health of the survivor and her beliefs, and a great deal about Domestic Violence and how women were cared for, hidden, and found new lives free from the violence they had experienced.  What violence is happening to women today in small towns of rumor, gossip, and old stories?  How do we change those perceptions and change the story.

TLC Book Tours  sent me an uncorrected proof for review and I was delighted to have the opportunity to read THE FIFTH PETAL

The writing was very good and captivating.  It had good police drama, investigation and resolution.  Having the focus on the women of the city and their actions and thoughts was quite wonderful and the counselor was very good at her role in the story. How does one find themselves when they have been disappeared to protect them from the “bad vibes” of a city that is suspicious of you at age four?  How in a city (a country) that distrusts women?

About the Author:

“Brunonia Barry is the New York Times and international best selling author of The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. She was the first American author to win the International Women’s Fiction Festival’s Baccante Award and was a past recipient of Ragdale Artists’ Colony’s Strnad Fellowship as well as the winner of New England Book Festival’s award for Best Fiction and Amazon’s Best of the Month. Her reviews and articles on writing have appeared in The London Times and The Washington Post. Brunonia co-chairs the Salem Athenaeum’s Writers’ Committee. She lives in Salem with her husband Gary Ward and their dog, Angel. Her new novel, The Fifth Petal will be released in January 2017.”

Brunonia Berry Twitter
Brunonia Berry Facebook
Brunonia Berry Web

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