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Some Die Nameless

Posted by on Nov 12, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

Some Die Nameless

Mysterious Book Report No. 351

by John Dwaine McKenna

Every single human being on the planet has a past; the deeds, events and situations that have shaped us and made us into the persons we are today.  Some of those experiences were happy and good . . . others, not so great . . . and a few of them we do our absolute best to put out of our minds forever.  But sometimes, no matter how honest an effort, the past just won’t stay in the rear-view mirror.  Instead, it drives up, cruises on through, then cuts in front and runs you off of the big highway of life.  (What a metaphor!)  That’s what happens to an ex-airborne army ranger named Ray Devlin in a propulsive new thriller that’ll keep you nailed to the page long after you were supposed to be off somewhere, doing something else.

Some Die Nameless, (Mulholland Books/ Little Brown/ Hachette, $26.00, 337 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-44020-2) by Wallace Stroby, begins in Florida, where fifty-four year old Ray Devlin is semi-retired, living on his boat and off the grid.  He takes odd jobs in construction to make ends meet, keeps to himself and does his best to put his past as a mercenary soldier behind him.  He’s seen action all over the world as a sergeant in a tight-knit group of commandos, working for a governmental contracting company run by an elusive man named Kemper.  But after Rays last job in South America left him severely wounded, he recuperated, then walked away from life as a soldier of fortune and hasn’t seen, or been in touch with any of his old comrades-in-arms for twenty years.  He’s surprised then, when one of the handful of men who went with him on that last fateful mission, a trooper under Devlins command named Bell, turns up at the south Florida marina where Ray’s docked, looking to reconnect.  In less time than it takes to drink a bottle of beer however, the two men are locked in a fight to the death.

At the same time, up in Philadelphia, the discovery of a decomposing corpse in an abandoned house triggers a young, ambitious reporters instincts for a major story, even though the failing newspaper she’s working for doesn’t want her to pursue it.  She and Devlin are forced to team up as the two cases unfold, becoming evermore intertwined, sinister and deadly, with hitman and killers lurking on every page.  If thrillers are your thing, you don’t want to miss Some Die Nameless, because Wallace Stroby is one of the hottest crime fiction writers working today.  He’s fast becoming a national treasure, as well as one of the MBRs personal favorites!

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Black and White Ball

Posted by on Nov 5, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

Black and White Ball

Mysterious Book Report No. 353

by John Dwaine McKenna

There must be something in the air, water . . . or maybe an unknown isotope emanating out of the ground at night, that germinates world class crime writers in, around and about Detroit, Michigan.  From the late great Elmore Leonard, to the much-lauded Steve Hamilton, to the indefatigable, prolific and much admired Loren D. Estleman, they’re all masters of the hard-boiled crime fiction universe, who never let their readers down.

Black and White Ball, (Forge/ Tom Doherty Associates, $25.99, 240 pages, ISBN 978-0-7653-88476) by Loren D. Estleman, is his eighty-first novel and there’s no sign, at this point, of him ever slowing down.  Mr. Estleman is, in fact, as creative, fresh and original as he was three decades ago . . . a rare feat in today’s era of Energizer Bunny-like rapid reproduction novels that are all about the authors name recognition and saleability . . . and  not about plot, character development, or innovation.  Black and White Ball, is by contrast, a breath of fresh air because the author reprises two of his best characters: a tough, wise-cracking private eye named Amos Walker, and a remorseless cold-blooded contract killer named Peter  Macklin,  and puts them together in the same novel for the first time.

When Macklin the hit mans second ex-wife is threatened with death by his own son, he hires Walker the PI to protect her, while Macklin (the father) tracks down Macklin (his son by his first ex-wife) and “Sets things right,” in his own words.  What follows is Walker being forced to do a job he doesn’t want, for a client he’d like to see in jail, protecting a woman who’s unsympathetic, as well as unwilling to accept the mortal danger she’s in.  Stuck in the middle between two vicious killers, Amos Walker is just trying to stay alive in this fast-paced and compelling novel from the pen of a Master Wordsmith at the top of his game.  With old knights, dark deeds, and nefarious villains, crime fiction aficionados will eat this one up and ask, as did young Oliver, “Please sir, may we have some more?”  The sooner the better the MBR says!!

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The Devil’s Half Mile

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

The Devil’s Half Mile

Mysterious Book Report No. 352

by John Dwaine McKenna

Wall Street trickery, corrupt politics, racial strife, gangs, murder . . . that all sounds like the headlines from today’s news, but instead, it’s the lead-in on the cover of a nifty murder mystery which takes place in New York City in the year of our Lord, 1799.  Through the skill of Alexander Hamilton and the formation of a Federal Bank, the new nation has recovered from the depression of 1792, but the financial panic back then ruined a great number of speculators, and many of them are still trying to claw their way back to prosperity in a marketplace with few restrictions, no regulations and zero oversight.

The Devil’s Half Mile, (Forge/Tom Doherty Associates, $24.99, 289 pages, ISBN 978-0-7653-9913-7) by Patrick “Paddy” Hirsch, is an exciting debut murder mystery in the form of historical crime fiction.  The novel begins in New York City in the summer of 1799, where a young man named Justice Flanagan had just returned from Ireland with a brand-new law degree and a burning desire to find out who murdered his father.  Before he can make it down the gangplank of the ship that brought him home however, he’s a spectator to the racial violence that’s happening throughout the city between the increasing numbers of free blacks and poor immigrant Irishmen who’ve been coming into the city in huge numbers, as a fight breaks out on the dock between the two groups over who will get the job of unloading a nearby ship.  The melee breaks up and the work is awarded to the blacks after the body of a murdered young woman of color is pulled from the harbor, right in front of the combatants.  Justy realizes that the city has changed substantially while he’s been away . . . the ghosts of the past seek retribution, while at the same time more bodies keep turning up and the crimes of the present demand attention.  Against the backdrop of the infamous Tontine Coffee House—where more nefarious schemes were hatched than eggs at a Tyson chicken farm—Justy and his friend Kerry struggle to solve the murders, avenge his father, and along the way, uncover a plot that could destroy the young country while at the same time, keep from getting killed themselves.  The action never ceases in this fine-tuned and carefully plotted mystery that’ll educate readers at the same that it entertains them by bringing the last year of the 18th century to colorful, vivid life!

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Some Die Nameless

Posted by on Oct 22, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

Some Die Nameless

Mysterious Book Report No. 351

by John Dwaine McKenna

Every single human being on the planet has a past; the deeds, events and situations that have shaped us and made us into the persons we are today.  Some of those experiences were happy and good . . . others, not so great . . . and a few of them we do our absolute best to put out of our minds forever.  But sometimes, no matter how honest an effort, the past just won’t stay in the rear-view mirror.  Instead, it drives up, cruises on through, then cuts in front and runs you off of the big highway of life.  (What a metaphor!)  That’s what happens to an ex-airborne army ranger named Ray Devlin in a propulsive new thriller that’ll keep you nailed to the page long after you were supposed to be off somewhere, doing something else.

Some Die Nameless, (Mulholland Books/ Little Brown/ Hachette, $26.00, 337 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-44020-2) by Wallace Stroby, begins in Florida, where fifty-four year old Ray Devlin is semi-retired, living on his boat and off the grid.  He takes odd jobs in construction to make ends meet, keeps to himself and does his best to put his past as a mercenary soldier behind him.  He’s seen action all over the world as a sergeant in a tight-knit group of commandos, working for a governmental contracting company run by an elusive man named Kemper.  But after Rays last job in South America left him severely wounded, he recuperated, then walked away from life as a soldier of fortune and hasn’t seen, or been in touch with any of his old comrades-in-arms for twenty years.  He’s surprised then, when one of the handful of men who went with him on that last fateful mission, a trooper under Devlins command named Bell, turns up at the south Florida marina where Ray’s docked, looking to reconnect.  In less time than it takes to drink a bottle of beer however, the two men are locked in a fight to the death.

At the same time, up in Philadelphia, the discovery of a decomposing corpse in an abandoned house triggers a young, ambitious reporters instincts for a major story, even though the failing newspaper she’s working for doesn’t want her to pursue it.  She and Devlin are forced to team up as the two cases unfold, becoming evermore intertwined, sinister and deadly, with hitman and killers lurking on every page.  If thrillers are your thing, you don’t want to miss Some Die Nameless, because Wallace Stroby is one of the hottest crime fiction writers working today.  He’s fast becoming a national treasure, as well as one of the MBRs personal favorites!

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Bearskin

Posted by on Oct 15, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

Bearskin

Mysterious Book Report No. 350

by John Dwaine McKenna

There is a quiet, but ongoing—and growing—conflict in America, in which well-intentioned, ultra-wealthy individuals are buying up huge parcels of undeveloped land and forests, which they then put into Nature Conservancies . . . places where, they hope, all things of and in the earth will flourish as they did before the emergence of mankind.  Human beings, due to their rapacious and destructive nature, are strictly forbidden from any contact with, or entry into, the designated area.  Which puts the absentee owners into immediate conflict with the local, occasionally impoverished folks who’ve always hunted, fished, trapped and timbered on the now closed off property.  It’s a situation people living in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York are painfully aware of.  And, it’s a conflict dripping with drama that’s explored in an electrifying new debut novel that will keep readers bolted in place reading, from the first page until the last.

Bearskin, (Ecco/Harper Collins, $26.99, 340 pages, ISBN 978-0-06-274279-7) by James McLaughlin is the raw, compelling and lyrical story of a man running away from a criminal past in the desert southwest and redeeming himself by escaping into an uncertain future as a caretaker on a remote northern Virginia forest preserve.  Its owned of course, by a rich, aging California woman who’s an ex-hippie and nature lover.

Rice Moore is the caretakers name.  He’s a former mule who carried contraband back and forth across the Arizona-Mexico border, done time in a Mexican prison and is hiding out from the cartel assassins who’ve vowed to kill him.  The Preserve, as it’s referred to, is pristine, untouched for more than a hundred years . . . and it’s full of wild black bears . . . hunted for their meat by locals using hounds, and coveted by poachers who sell the gall bladders and paws to the Chinese.  Rice, a bad-ass who survived a term in one of Mexico’s most notorious prisons, is there to protect all the wildlife in the preserve, document the echosphere and, in his spare time, rebuild a neglected guest cabin.  All-in-all, a typical non-profit job, where the workload far exceeds the pay.  But when Rice discovers the remains of a bear, killed illegally on the Preserve, he takes it personally and becomes obsessed with catching the poachers . . . which brings unwanted attention from the law . . . and blows his carefully constructed false identity.  Teaming up with the woman scientist he replaced, Rice fights to save not only the wildlife, but himself in this evocative and beautifully rendered first novel from an accomplished, and exciting new writer who has with an affinity for all things wild, and many more stories to tell.  We’re looking forward to them!

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Spy Across The Table

Posted by on Oct 8, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

The Spy Across The Table

Mysterious Book Report No. 290

by John Dwaine McKenna

Although prognostication and predicting the future isn’t what we normally do here at the MBR, there’s always exceptions, and this is one.  I’m gonna stick my neck all the way out to the cut-on-the-dotted-line tattoo and forecast the near future.  In about a week and a-half—June 20th to be exact—a new thriller will be released that I think will be the hottest read of the summer season, if not the whole year.  I know, I know, that’s a bold statement, but it’s one helluva bold book.

The Spy Across The Table, (Simon & Schuster, $26.00, 435 pages, ISBN 978-1-4767-9491-4) by Barry Lancet, is the fourth—and most electrifying installment—of his highly acclaimed, widely praised Jim Brodie series of international thriller/mysteries.  Brodie, a San Francisco art dealer specializing in high-end Japanese antiques, just wants to be an ordinary guy, a widower and single parent of a precocious and endearing seven-year old daughter named Jenny . . . but circumstances and a most unique skill-set prevent that from ever happening.  That’s because he grew up in Tokyo, where his father owned an investigative agency.  Brodie’s a martial-arts master, an expert in the art, antiquities, history and culture of Japan . . . and speaks, reads and writes fluent Japanese.  He’s also the half-owner of Brodie Investigative Services in Tokyo and works with the San Francisco Police Department on cases involving Japanese-Americans, or whenever a liaison to their community is needed.

As The Spy Across The Table begins, Jim Brodie is in Washington D.C.  He’s attending a Kabuki play at the Kennedy Center Opera House with Mike Dillman, his college roomie and close friend.  “Mikey,” as Brodie calls him, is a production designer in Hollywood, making sets for the movies.  He’s there to meet Sharon Tanaka, a world-famous designer from Japan, and another Brodie friend and contact.  Brodie himself was there to enjoy the Kabuki art-form and introduce the designers, who’ve never met.  But mere moments after the play begins and the pair are just getting to know each other, an assassin shoots and kills them.  Brodie intercedes, but loses the fight and the gunman—a spanish speaking professional killer—manages his escape, unknown, undetected and unharmed.  Brodie is devastated, vows revenge and is summoned to the White House . . . where he is given a directive he can’t refuse.  The order puts him at odds with the security services of four different nations, puts him in the crosshairs of the most deadly spy in China and puts him physically into a place he probably won’t survive, all while trying to rescue a hostage whose mind contains enough coding secrets to unlock the deepest vaults of American’s NSA super computers.  Her name is Anna . . . and she’s the only daughter of Sharon Tanaka.  The action, and the mystery starts with the first sentence . . . Mikey was shot because he begged me for a favor and I complied . . . then expands, deepens and darkens in every chapter thereafter with a twisted intensity that even Niccolo Machiavelli would appreciate.  The threats, suspense, double crosses and heart-stopping thrills never end in this chilling, and realistic masterpiece that could be tomorrow’s international news.  If you’re a fan of Flynn, Meltzer, or Dan Brown, you’ll be all-in with enthusiasm for Barry Lancet and his good guy PI, Jim Brodie.  He’s tough, unusual, honest and absolutely awesome!

 

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Blood On The Tracks

Posted by on Oct 1, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

Blood on the Tracks

Mysterious Book Report No. 330

by John Dwaine McKenna

It was a lucky day for all of us when my wife June’s book club decided to read this outstanding first novel, written by a Colorado author and published in 2016.  Smart group those dozen-plus ladies, all college or public librarians, administrators and professional women, the core group of which—including June–has been meeting on the first Tuesday of the month for close to thirty years.  So, when my darling spouse said, “I think you’d really like this novel,” I paid attention.  I’m glad I did, and you will be too, because it’s nothing less than epic.  The best first novel I have ever seen.

Blood on the Tracks, ( Thomas & Mercer, PB, $15.95, 372 pages, ISBN 978-1503936867) by Barbara Nickless, will introduce readers to two of the toughest and most endearing characters in all of modern crime fiction.  Their names are Sydney Rose Parnell, and her K9 companion, a Belgian Malinois war dog named Clyde.  They’re a pair of ex-US marines who saw war service in Iraq, both are suffering from  PTSD—Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome—and they each see the ghosts of comrades who died in the war.  Now, they’re back in Denver where Sydney Rose grew up.  It’s where she works as a railroad police Special Agent for the fictional Denver Pacific Continental Railway.  She’s called in to help investigate by the Denver Major Crimes Unit when a savage, inhuman and cruel murder of a young woman takes place near railway property.  She had been an activist amongst the homeless and transients living alongside the train tracks and the only suspect is a disfigured Iraq war veteran known only as the Burned Man because of his facial scars.  The burned man and the murdered woman were about to marry, but he may be the killer . . . he was found with a bloody knife . . . but can’t remember what happened.  He doesn’t think he killed her, but can’t be sure.  The Denver homicide cops are convinced he did, but as Sydney Rose combs through the homeless camps searching for answers, her doubts mount and grow as she discovers a far-reaching conspiracy going all the way back to Iraq, and involving train-riding gangs of skinheads, white supremacists and militants, all of whom want to shut her down . . .  permanently.  The action and the pathos begins on page one and carries through to the final, pulse-pounding confrontation and battle in this thriller of thrillers.  Barbara Nickless is an author we’ll be a fan of from now on.  And hey, here’s great news!  The second installment of the Sydney Rose Parnell and Clyde saga entitled Dead Stop, is already published and available.  Their third adventure, Ambush, will be out early next year.  Stay tuned, it’s gonna be one helluva train ride!

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Broken Windows

Posted by on Sep 24, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

Broken Windows

Mysterious Book Report No. 349

by John Dwaine McKenna

One of the hottest, most emotional and controversial issues facing the nation today is immigration.  Say it once at a cocktail party and a discussion will start.  Say it twice and an argument breaks out.  Dare utter the word for a third time and the fist fight is on . . . metaphorically speaking, of course.  Now, a bold young Shamus Award-winning author has penned a thrilling, private investigator murder mystery that takes the reader all the way back to the dim, dark and unenlightened past of the early ‘90s . . . a time before the world had been brow-beaten and politically corrected into gender-neutered language, thoughts and deeds lest someone, somewhere, get their feelings hurt and have to go to a safe room and snuggle with a teddy bear for a little while . . . because it appeared that the minority opinion, rather than the majority one, would rule.

Broken Windows, (Down & Out Books, PB, $18.95, 334 pages, ISBN 978-1-948235-07-5) by Paul D. Marks, is the second of his Duke Rogers PI series, and it opens in 1994 in Los Angeles: The City of Angels, the city of Hammett, Chandler and James Ellroy, of Marilyn and Sunset Boulevard and the Black Dahlia.  It’s just after the Rodney King riots and a firestorm is raging over Proposition 187, an anti-illegal immigrant ballot initiative that would deny hospital, school and other services to those without US citizenship.  Against that backstory, a despondent young woman climbs to the top of the famous Hollywood sign and leaps to her death.  An undocumented day laborer is murdered, while a disgraced and disbarred lawyer in Venice Beach is so desperate that he puts an ad in the LA Times newspaper that reads: Will do anything for money.

Private Investigator Duke Rogers, and his very un-politically correct associate Jake take on the pro-bono (non-paying) case of Carlos, the murdered day laborer as a favor to his sister Marisol, one of the Duke’s neighbor’s housekeeper.  Somehow, all three tragedies are related, and it’s up to Rogers to wade through a labyrinth of murder, corruption and intrigue between the Catholic Church and the State of California, and it all that has to do with the immigration debate.  This electrifying novel will jolt your sensibilities, stir your conscience and give every reader plenty of ammunition for the next mixed group where the I-word is spoken!

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American History

Posted by on Sep 17, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

American History

Mysterious Book Report No. 347

by John Dwaine McKenna

The twentieth century may go down in history as the most epochal of all time.  It’s already the most fascinating, pivotal and the most consequential of eras because it was without doubt the bloodiest one ever.  Now, in a brand new piece of intricate crime fiction, the twentieth century is encapsulated by following the fortunes of two families, the Agnellos and Leones, who bring a blood feud with them from Sicily to the USA at the turn of the twentieth century.  The Agnello family (lamb, in Italian) stays in New York City and mostly on the side of law and order.  The Leone clan (lion, in Italian), on the other hand, puts down roots in San Francisco where they create a criminal empire.

American History, (Down & Out Books, PB, $18.95, 362 pages, ISBN 978-1-946502-70-4) by J.L. Abramo is a multi-generational saga of loyalty and deceit, law breakers and law enforcers, whose families are torn apart or bound together in a no holds barred battle for survival as neither time, nor distance prevents the families from trying to destroy each other.  As a nation struggles to find its identity in the wake of two World Wars the two families engage in a life and death struggle formed by honor and lies, as tragic circumstances tear one family apart while the other searches for missing members.  With the focus going from coast to coast in the tradition of  The Godfather, East of Eden, or The Given Day, this compelling saga of American crime and crime families will keep you reading far into the night.  Mr. Abramo, an award-winning best-selling author has penned another winner that all fans of crime fiction are going to want to read!

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Potters Field

Posted by on Sep 10, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

Potters Field

Mysterious Book Report No. 348

by John Dwaine McKenna

Three years ago, a new writing talent appeared and lit up the hard-boiled crime scene like machine-gun fire on a moonless night.  The author’s name was Rob Hart, and his character, Ash McKenna, is a tough guy who—like Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe—gives bad-assiveness a good name.  Happily, he’s now back in his fifth adventure.

Potter’s Field, (Polis Books, $25.99, 272 pages, ISBN 978-1-943818-93-8) by Rob Hart, finds Ash coming back to New York’s Staten Island from a year on the road, determined to face the problems that drove him away.  He’s decided to turn his life around . . . less thuggery, more proper behavior . . . and a real career.  Ash wants to keep doing what he’s best at doing, by becoming a licensed private investigator.  But within moments of getting off the plane and clearing customs, Ginny Tonic, the drag queen and crime lord who once employed Ash, but later tried to have him killed, sends one of her thugs to  ask for an interview.  It seems Ginny has a couple of problems.  One of her newest, and most favored, drag queen soldiers has gone missing and is either dead or sucked into the growing heroin scene on Staten Island . . . the city’s fifth borough, the place where Ash grew up, and where his mother still lives.  Ginny’s willing to pay $10,000, enough to get Ash back on his feet.  He’s sympathetic to the idea of finding a lost kid and helping a grieving family appeals to his sense of gallantry.  Ash takes the job, but soon learns he’s betting with his life, and that there’s a lot more in play than he’s been told.

The Ash McKenna series just gets better and better, as he fights his way through the most life-threatening mystery yet . . . and the greatest danger of all may be from his own past!  An edge of the seat thriller from start to finish and a perfect late summer or early fall read!

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