Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Book Review: Storm Surge

Storm Surge by J.D. Rhoades has a strong plot, but with one unbelievable twist - timing a burglary to occur during a hurricane. I'm sure that point won't bother many thriller readers. Go ahead and read this during hurricane season down at the beach, but it bothered this weather geek who knows you can't predict the path of even a category 5 hurricane two days in advance, and this burglary must have been planned long before that based on what happens in the story.

This story does have going for it Max Chase, if that's your real name, and a mother/daughter team that has enough backstory to make them interesting. The story hook is solid and should draw in any thriller reader. But I must confess I had some difficulty keeping the bad guys straight during the start of their misadventure.

Living near the North Carolina coast, I enjoyed the realistic portrayal of events during the storm's rampage, though for the life of me, I'm not sure why the various characters in their run-a-bouts weren't piercing by flying debris to the point at which they were fully imbedded pincushions. This is a solid read, but the next time I meet J.D., I'm going to scold him for the minor spelling and grammar errors. A solid 4 that can blow some people away--if you deserve it.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Book Review: The Castlegate Club

I confess I critiqued a tiny portion of The CastlegateClub a long time ago. I detect a hint of a Russian tragedy in this story where everyone suffers and no one wins, but the story is without the uplifting and powerful writing of a Russian master to capture and fire our imagination. The intricate plot is solid material. The rising tension is evident with some nice twists. However, I found some of the mechanics to propel the story forward not fully engaging.

Mike McGrath, the protagonist, doesn't grow. He's the same bull-headed, 40-year-old winner-takes-all adult despite the damage to those around him as he was as a star athlete in high school. His lack of insight to his own issues and alternative actions to achieve his goals are sometimes hard to swallow. He's a one man wrecking machine, and the person he wrecks most often is himself. His main antagonist is slightly better developed, spiraling downward into the criminal world by birthright, desire, and situation to which the reader is witness.

While the author has some of the interrelationships between characters spot on, the reader is at the mercy of some repetitive and dragged out dialogue and memes to get the point. And then when you want to be at the climax of the story, most of it takes place off page. We are left with a dénouement of sorts that I truly don't understand, but then again, I'm not drawn to Russian tragedies. It's a 3.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Book Review: Claws of the Griffin

When rich northerner, Peter Reynolds, heads to North Carolina for the funeral of an old girlfriend, he gets more than he expected including murder. Claws of the Griffin is a must read for anyone who likes their mysteries served with a southern flavor. The author does a could job of keep us guessing the outcome with well-played twists until the very end. It's got the big toe firmly planted in the 5-star rating arena. A good read for a hot southern night. Full disclosure: I read the ARC of this story.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Two short story reviews for the price of one blog view

The Player is another very good short story by Linda Johnson that puts you in arms reach of a psychopathic killer and his modis operandi. This could have easily been extended with more interplay with the cops and the victim's family to heighten the tension and make the ending sharper. It was a bit too straight on and in need of a few more curves. The last sentence confused me for a while, but any story that makes me remember it long after reading it (and I read it over a month ago), makes me bump this up a notch. The Player slips into the low "5" range for a short story. Job well done.

Delightfully Departed is a nice, short read, about a 'justifiable' rant and its consequences, but there's really not much to make a reader sit up and take notice even with an epilogue. And I'm not sure a story that is probably no more than 2,000 words long needs an epilogue. A story of this length needs more, a cruel twist of fate, more counter-punching, something even more ironic in the ending than what was dished out. This is average fare--a "3".