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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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Light It Up

Posted by on Aug 20, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

Light It Up

Mysterious Book Report No. 327

by John Dwaine McKenna

As a fifty-plus year resident here in Colorado, the question I’m most often asked by out-of-state friends is: How has the legalization of marijuana affected things there?  The short answer . . . stoners love it and are flocking here in large numbers, as are criminals; government is ecstatic over the windfall from tax revenues; cops, school administrators and the armed forces are apoplectic about it.  But, if you’d like to learn more about this controversial subject, while at the same time having an enjoyable, legal experience . . . and keep all of your clothes on . . .

Light It Up, (Putnam, $26.00, 384 pages, ISBN 978-0-399-57563-1) by Nick Petrie, will introduce you to Peter Ash, an ex-marine warrior who raises bad-assery to such a high-level that even Lee Child—who rose to international fame on the back of Jack Reacher—sat up, took notice and wrote a book blurb.

In this, the third Peter Ash novel, (after Burning Bright and The Drifter,) finds him in Denver, “Just for a few days, doing a favor for a friend ,” named Henry Nygaard, a man  he met while repairing hiking trails up in Oregon’s remote Willamette National Forest.  Ash was supposed to hook up with girlfriend Juna Cassidy back in eastern Oregon, but puts the rendezvous on hold because trouble is brewing in Denver.  That’s where Henry’s daughter, Elle runs a company called Heavy Metal Protection, which performs armed escort duties for the cannabis industry.  Because Federal law prohibits the use and sale of pot, weed, ganja, or whatever else it’s called, banks refuse to deal with the entire industry.  They’re federally chartered and insured, so, all transactions with the cannabis crowd take place in cash.  Cash only.  Cash on the barrelhead.  No checks, Visa, Mastercard, Diners Club, American Express, I.O.U’s or promises of any kind.  Cash means cash . . . and cash means trouble.  Elles husband Randy, her operations manager Leonard and three hundred thousand dollars in cash have gone missing.  And by the end of his first day on the job, three of Peter Ash’s friends, including Henry Nygaard, are dead, and Ash himself has killed four armed hijackers.  And that, dear readers, is only the first few chapters in this explosive thriller that features one of the most compelling and deadly characters to come along since Clint played Dirty Harry. If you crave action, adventure and high drama that just never quits, Peter Ash is your go-to guy!

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Bluff

Posted by on Aug 13, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

Bluff

Mysterious Book Report No. 346

by John Dwaine McKenna

Bluff is a novel about the practice of sleight of hand, or magic, and magic is done by practicing the art of misdirection.  The conjurer talks the audience into looking over there while at the exact same time doing something over here and presto . . . a deck of fifty-two cards thrown against the wall falls to the floor . . . except for one.  That’s the one a volunteer picked from the deck and showed the audience a few moments earlier then inserted back in the deck.  That particular card is thumb tacked to the wall.  Face out.  The mind won’t accept—can’t believe—what the eyes have seen.  That’s magic.  It’s fun and entertaining.  It takes tens of thousands of repetitions to become an adept . . . before the hand can fool the eye and the brain.  But magic has a sinister side too, an evil twin called card manipulation.  It’s used to cheat at games of chance.

Bluff, (Mysterious Press/Grove Atlantic, $26.00, 272 pages, ISBN 978-0-8021-2804-1) by Michael Kardos features a down on her luck, broke magician named Natalie Webb.  She’s twenty-seven years old, a card-trick prodigy, and a has-been who was used and thrown away by an unscrupulous older magician.  He slept with her, stole her best trick and claimed it as his own . . . then revealed to her: “It’s common knowledge that I’m married.”  Natalie was just eighteen at the time, attending her first World of Magic Convention . . . and she’s been shunned by the community of professional magicians ever since.  As she struggles to make a subsistence living at her craft, a card trick ends in disaster, injuring and possibly blinding an aggressive personal injury lawyer.  He’s described as a “Professional A–hole,” nicknamed Lucifer by his peers because of his willingness to resort to any tactic, no matter how low or vile, in order to win his case.  Faced with thousands of dollars in legal fees, and the potential of many more in settlement costs, the beleaguered young woman takes on a writing project for a national magazine in which she will reveal some magic tricks, (A serious infraction amongst the fraternity of magicians), and compare them to an adept card cheat at the poker table.   First however,  Natalie has to find a poker-playing cheater . . . which leads her to Atlantic City . . . which in turn introduces her . . . Sorry folks.  You’ll have to read this killer of a thriller to get the answer to that, and other questions, such as what is a classic pass, a Greek deal, or a Charlie Miller table pass. Bluff combines the elements of revenge, street justice, and gut-wrenching suspense to create a racy spellbinder of a novel that you can’t put down, can’t stop reading, and just can’t figure out until the very twisted end.  And hey!  Don’t forget that the art of magic is the practice of misdirection!

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False Flag

Posted by on Aug 6, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

False Flag

Mysterious Book Report No. 322

by John Dwaine McKenna

In the world of espionage, The business of spies is lies, which makes it impossible at times, to distinguish between friend and foe . . . because all covert operations are designed to advance the interests and objectives of the spying country.  Put it another way and the axiom becomes: TRUST NO ONE.  They all lie all the time.  And nowhere is this illustrated better than in a thrilling new spy yarn in which a trusted ally and friend becomes a deadly enemy.  False Flag (Blackstone Publishing, $26.99, 320 pages, ISBN 978-1-5047-9772-6) by John Altman, posits a scenario in which a rogue Israeli Mossad agent attempts to mount the deadliest terrorist attack the world has ever seen against the United States, while leaving behind a set of clues that implicate Iran.  In spy jargon it’s known as a false flag, and the hope of the renegade agency is to create an incident which will lead one’s ally and friend—the USA—to go to war in retaliation against the enemy state.  Which, in this case is Iran, where crowds routinely chant: Death to America and Death to Israel, with depressing regularity.  The plot is accidentally uncovered by an elderly Israeli-born woman named Dalia Artzi, who’s a lecturer at Princeton University in the art, tactics and history of warfare.  And although she’s considered a genius in her field, Dalia’s life experiences have left her a pacifist, and her only son a prisoner in the hands of Islamic fanatics.  She’s reluctant at first, to get involved.  But her strong Jewish faith, which has instilled in her a desire to try and make the world a better place, compel her to do otherwise.  And so, Dalia is pitted against another Israeli citizen, a young Mossad agent known only as Jana, who’s as deadly as she is dedicated and beautiful.  Thus begins a game of hide-and-seek-to-destroy that begins in Washington state and culminates in Washington, D.C., with stakes that are impossibly high, to prevent an act that’s unspeakably evil.  False Flag is so eerily prescient and electrifying that readers of all ages and sizes will find it hard to put down.  It’s a thriller of thrillers because it’s so entirely possible, and utterly plausible in today’s raucous, unstable, uncivil, unpeaceful and war-torn world.  False Flag is bound to become a classic among spy novels!

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Rip Crew

Posted by on Jul 30, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

Rip Crew

Mysterious Book Report No. 345

by John Dwaine McKenna

With all the rama-lamadingdonging that’s been going on over, under, through, around and about the southern border of our nation this MBR couldn’t be more timely.

Rip Crew, (Mulholland Books/Little, Brown and Company, $27.00, 322 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-50553-6) by Sebastian Rotella, begins in Guatemala where protagonist Valentine Pescatore, an undercover agent for a private security firm, is looking for a human smuggler named Chiclet.  Chiclet, along with a group of tattooed, machete-wielding MS13-bangers, controls access to a rusty, ancient steam train called La Bestia: The Beast.  Chiclet and his gang are there for the sole purpose of fleecing the illegal refugees and migrants headed north through Mexico, hoping to cling to the tops, sides and platforms of the wheezing old steamer long enough to cross into El Norte . . .  the promised land . . . The United States of America.  But in the first of many stunning plot twists, that’s where Chiclet just came from.  He’s a witness to the massacre of several women in San Diego, California, where he and a pair of young girls are the only survivors in a case that’s drawn the entire worlds attention.  It’s caught the eye of a high-ranking member of Homeland Security, and it’s she who’s hired Pescatores firm to investigate, using back channels to avoid publicity.

At the same time, Leo Méndez, a Mexican journalist forced into exile by death threats from the drug cartels and the crooked cops and politicians in league with them, is hot on a story of corporate corruption and malfeasance that stretches across several countries and multiple governments.

The two cases coverage, and the volatile American investigator teams up with the wary Mexican journalist to track down a massacre survivor and witness with an explosive secret that conceals a conspiracy reaching around the world.  The hunt leads from the barrio to the boardroom, where the intrepid pair find the lines between mobsters and moguls has blurred, as the unlikely partners fight forces that can easily crush them.  Rip Crew is one of the most intense thrillers of the year.  It’s timely, it’s fast-paced, it’s propulsive . . . and it’s going to keep you reading late late late into the night!

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Blood Standard

Posted by on Jul 23, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

Blood Standard

Mysterious Book Report No. 344

by John Dwaine McKenna

The MBR has always had a soft spot for the antihero type: those individuals who’re capable of most anything, but who also possess the same purity of heart as a knight errant on a quest.  They’re the kind of characters who struggle with the world, and themselves, in an idealistic representation of the human condition.  Simply put: we all have our own inner demons, and each of us decides every day whether to be good or bad.  The antiheros are, in the MBRs opinion, the most dramatic, and therefore the most interesting of all literary characters.  This week brings us one of the absolute best baddies with a good streak the MBR has ever seen.  His name is Isaiah Coleridge.  He’s half-Maori and half-Irish, witty and well-read . . . and an enforcer for organized crime up in Alaska, who takes bad-assery to a whole new dimension in an alternate universe.

Blood Standard, (Putnam/Penguin Random House, $26.00, 321 pages, ISBN 978-07352-1287-9) by Laird Barron, begins in Anchorage, Alaska, where “Mr. Apollo,” the Boss of Bosses up there, sends his number one hitter to Nome—considered a Mafia penal colony, by the suits in the lower forty-eight—for a “couple a month working vacation to snoop around a little bit, see if things are copacetic up there, capice?”  Mr. Apollo’s heard rumors about some goings-on in the area that he wants proved, or disproved.  But Isaiah barely gets unpacked before running afoul of Vitale Knight, a made member of The Chicago Outfit, and therefore untouchable without permission from all the Dons.  Isaiah has dynamited a big money-making scheme of Knights, in order to save some wild critters from being slaughtered, and put the  Mafioso in the hospital with  serious injuries . . . for which Coleridge is beaten, tortured and within seconds of being killed . . . when a last minute phone call spares him.  After a short hospital stay, a still recuperating Isaiah Coleridge is hustled away in secrecy, to a farm just outside of Kingston, New York, high up in the Hudson River Valley, and within easy reach of the New York City Mob.  There, he tries to reinvent himself, and leave his past in the past, but just as in real life, it’s never that simple.  After a troubled young woman disappears from the farm, Isaiah’s shoved neck deep into the murky, dangerous, shark-infested waters of organized crime, where his survival is iffy at best in this explosive and finely-crafted novel.  Isaiah Coleridge, “I’m merely a man with less exacting scruples than most . . .” is a character all crime fiction readers should get to know.  He’s gonna be a monster in the genre!

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Flight of the Fox

Posted by on Jul 16, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

Flight of the Fox

Mysterious Book Report No 343

by John Dwaine McKenna

An electrifying, propulsive and timely thriller was just released that, by all rights, should shoot to the top of every bestseller list in the country.  If ever an author stepped up to the plate, took a swing, hit it right on the sweet spot and out of the park . . . this is it.

Flight of the Fox, (Down & Out Books, PB, $18.95, 381 pages, ISBN 978-1-946502-61-2) by Gray Basnight is a tour de force of a government agency that’s so out of control it will do anything to protect itself and its secrets.  It’s a story that could have been ripped right out of yesterdays, todays, or tomorrows headlines . . . and no matter which side of the political divide you’re currently on . . . this gripping yarn about a black-ops unit within the Federal Bureau of Investigation will keep you enthralled to the very last page.

The novel begins in Bethel, New York.  It’s the fiftieth anniversary of Woodstock, and near the world-class Bethel Performing Arts Center—which is on the old Yasgur Farm where the now-legendary festival took place, Professor of Advanced Mathematics Samuel Teagarden, is resting his once-broken—and still mending—knees on the deck of his vacation home.  He’s in mourning over the death of his wife, who was killed in the same accident that damaged his legs.  As he watches the hummingbirds at their feeder and reminisces, a strange, baseball-sized mini-drone flies up and tries to kill him.  It’s followed by a cluster of three more, each one programmed for assassinating him.  All of this happens because a government archivist—the son of another math professor who’s a personal friend—sent Teagarden an old, handwritten file that’s in code, along with a notation explaining, This has been kicking around the archives, apparently lost and ignored, for decades.  Perhaps you could have some fun decoding it . . .

And so begins the innocent math professors terrifying run for his life, as teams of FBI hitmen try to stop any publication of the explosive file that their superiors have been hunting for more than fifty years.  From Bethel to New York City, Washington D.C. to the Florida Keys, the chase, the dead bodies, and the near-misses just keep on coming in this dark and realistic thriller that will keep you nailed to every word on every page from start to finish.  Simply put, if you like Robert Ludlum, you don’t want to miss this novel. Flight of the Fox  is  one for the ages and bound to become a cult classic!

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Spirits of the Heart

Posted by on Jul 9, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

Spirits of the Heart

Mysterious Book Report No. 342

by John Dwaine McKenna and June Lynn McKenna

As the by-line shows, this will be a different—and special—MBR.  It’s not within our usual purview of crime and punishment, or murder and mayhem, nor even an exploration of the dark side of human nature.  Instead, it’s a goose-pimple inducing paranormal ghost and romance story which takes place at an addiction treatment center in Middletown, New York.  It’s a place that was once an institution for the criminally insane.  And because it’s for all of the ladies in the audience who aren’t hard-boiled crime enthusiasts, June Lynn McKenna has gallantly offered a woman’s perspective . . . so-you-know-who doesn’t screw-it-up.

Spirits of the Heart, (Erato Publishing, PB, $13.95, 312 pages, ISBN 978-0-9974326-4-0) by Frances Brown writing as Claire Gem, is part of her ongoing Haunted Voices series, and is, in our opinion, the best one so far.  It begins when Laura Horton returns from grad school in North Carolina to Middletown, New York; the place where she was born and raised.  Laura’s got a new degree, a new job as an addiction counselor, and not a dollar to her name.  She does have a plan though, to move into a spare room at her high school friend Angie’s house, where she lives with her boyfriend, Miller Stanford.  Then, after Laura gets a paycheck or two, she’ll find her own apartment and move out.  But . . . as every writer of fiction knows . . . the easiest way to make God laugh, is to make plans.  When Laura rolls into town flat broke, her car coasting on fumes, expecting a warm reunion with her gal-pal, she’s met at the door by a grumpy, half naked and towel wrapped hunk of manhood.  Angie, Miller tells Laura, has moved out, and relocated to Tampa, Florida.  Laura is devastated, out of options and stuck in a “puke green, two-story house” that sits right beside the cemetery of the old insane asylum, with a man who doesn’t want her there.  Miller and Laura come to an agreement of sorts, she can stay . . . but . . . it’s his house, his rules.  Laura tries her best to comply, but their relationship gets more and more strained, as strange, weird and unexplainable events start to happen on a regular basis.  Then, Miller see the ghost of a little girl and thinks he’s losing it.  But Laura sees her too, in this vivid, suspenseful and romance-filled novel from the award-winning pen of one of the hottest romance and supernatural fiction writers in the country.  Claire Gem’s Spirits of the Heart will keep you glued to each and every page, until your glasses get too steamed to read!

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Under Water

Posted by on Jul 2, 2018 in Mysterious Book Report, TV Townsman Articles | 0 comments

Under Water

Mysterious Book Report No. 341

by John Dwaine McKenna

The MBR is ever on the lookout for debut authors with arresting characters, compelling plots and above-average wordsmithing talent.  When we find one, we do our best to alert all of you, so that together, we can read and enjoy the writer and character as they grow.  Those types of people are hard to find, and when we do, it’s cause to celebrate . . . so put your party hat on, turn the TV off and fire-up the La-Z-Boy.  It’s time to read.

Under Water, (Kensington Publishing Corp., $25.00, 309 pages, ISBN 978-1-4697-0968-4) by Casey Barrett, is a great summer read.  It’s a dynamic first novel featuring a wise-cracking, tough and young, ex-competitive swimmer who was destined for Olympics Gold.  Then, his father disgraced the family by committing financial fraud and going to prison.  In a riches-to-rags story, his son Lawrence known as “Duck” Darley—destitute now—begins drinking, dealing drugs and quits the team, then watches as one of his teammates goes on to win four Olympic gold medals.  Duck, meanwhile, goes on, to deal a little dope that somehow became a lot of dope when I wasn’t looking.  At age twenty, Duck gets busted with a couple of pounds of weed and goes away for a couple years for possession with intent to distribute.  Once he gets paroled, he becomes a high-functioning alcoholic and pill-popper, who makes his living by finding things.  He’s not a PI.  That’s passé.  Instead, sort of like a superhero for hire, he’ll find out if your spouse is cheating, for example, with whom, where and how . . . and take pictures.  Now, more than a decade later, the mother of his old teammate contacts Duck to hire him to find her missing daughter, Madeline.  She’s eighteen, rich, a talented swimmer . . . and self-destructive.  She’s been missing for a week and Duck thinks it’s just another case of a spoiled, bratty runaway.  Then her roommate turns up savagely murdered and Maddie, as she’s known, becomes the primary suspect in the media.  The search soon turns deadly.  Duck is attacked and nearly beaten to death as the case sucks him ever-deeper into the morass of Olympic swimming, where lies and violence lie just below the surface, and every one of the competitors will do whatever it takes to gain the edge.  Duck didn’t win any medals, but he’ll win you over with his actions and flat-out bad-assivness.  He’s a winner!

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