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Category: mystery (Page 1 of 3)

The Voynich Gambit – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Quintin Peterson

In Quintin Peterson’s The Voynich Gambit, Special Police Officer Lt. Norman Blalock is caught amid a dangerous situation. On the heels of another botched heist, notorious artifact dealer Rupert Whyte plots to steal a mysterious treasure from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. As the double-crossed “inside man,” Norman must do everything he can to stop Whyte from doing so. Meanwhile, his only ally is the beautiful Kavitha Netram, but even she has secret intentions. They both want to be free from Whyte’s demanding orders, but that is much easier said than done.

From the very beginning, it is obvious that The Voynich Gambit is a sequel to another book. It jumps right back into the action, which is certainly exciting, but also confusing for new readers who happen to read this book before its predecessor. It is difficult to determine who the characters are, how they relate to one another, and what is generally going on without having read the first book (Guarding Shakespeare); for that reason, The Voynich Gambit is not a good standalone novel. Also, The Voynich Gambit’s plot tends to seem complicated and oddly paced, making it difficult to follow for much of the book.

Despite the occasional confusion, The Voynich Gambit is a fascinating novel. Written in a noir style and with an equal representation of modern culture and historical references, The Voynich Gambit is a well-balanced and intriguing mystery novel. Quintin Peterson is an excellent writer with a flair for gripping mysteries, which is clearly evident in this book. The Voynich Gambit is a great noir mystery, but prospective readers should certainly consider reading Guarding Shakespeare first, if they should have any hope of following along with this installment.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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[Author Interview] – Stephen Murray | Murder Aboard the Queen Elizabeth II

Featured Authors Talk About It

Author Interview

Stephen Murray

Stephen Murray

ATAI: Tell us a little about you.

Stephen Murray: My name is Stephen Murray. The Nevada desert is a far cry from my birthplace of England and that of the countries in Southern Africa where I was raised. I am currently a partner of a small computer software company that was started in California in 1982, but was moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2003.

Besides writing, I enjoy traveling, and have been fortunate to enough to explore the world extensively, having traveled to all continents. Bhutan, Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands are just a few of my favorite trips. When I am not writing, I enjoy live theater, concerts, most kinds of music, and current affairs.

I am the author of the three fictional novels, The Chapel of Eternal Love – Wedding Stories from Las Vegas, the sequel Return to the Chapel of Eternal Love – Marriage Stories from Las Vegas, and for a change of tempo, Murder Aboard the Queen Elizabeth II.

ATAI: How long have you been writing?

Stephen Murray: I came to writing relatively late in life. I always enjoyed writing as a child, and as an adult I’ve written several articles focused on current affairs which have been published in assorted newsletters and online blogs. It has only been in the last ten years, that I actually discovered the joy of writing complete novels – and what a joy it has been!

ATAI: What was your most recent release?

Stephen Murray: Murder Aboard the Queen Elizabeth II.

Click here to get your copy!

ATAI: What do you love most about writing?

Stephen Murray: The creativity and imagination, no question about it. Conjuring up the story lines and the characters. It is wonderful when it all comes together.

ATAI: What do you find most challenging?

Stephen Murray: Creating the characters. My books rely on very diverse cast of characters. When the characters have attributes or personality traits that are alien to me, it is interesting digging deep inside myself to see if I can create a realistic portrayal of whom I am trying to create.

ATAI: Where do your ideas come from?

Stephen Murray: My imagination. None of my characters are based people I know or have read about – at least not consciously. Of course, who knows what tricks the subconscious plays?

ATAI: What is your writing process?

Stephen Murray: Very disciplined. I do not write just when the spirit moves me. I try and set aside a certain time each week when I can have complete quiet. When I am not writing, I am formulating the development of the novels – this can be while driving to the supermarket, during commercial breaks of a TV show, while I am eating my lunch or even dozing off to sleep at night.

ATAI: Do your characters (or message) ever seem to have a life of their own or an agenda of their own?

Stephen Murray: Most certainly the characters take on a life of their own. Especially when I am typing dialogue, and the angry voice of the character inside of me snaps “I would never say/behave like that.” I have to remove and replace the dialogue and replace with what ‘the voice’ tells me to write. I find this extremely gratifying. It signifies the character is well developed – well hopefully so, anyway. With non-fiction – when I initially wrote my biography, I was amazed at how many times the direction changed. Discovering what was important enough to include – and what to exclude – was incredible. The book shifted directions more times than I cared to count.

ATAI: What’s your favorite part of your book (or one of your books)?

Stephen Murray: In both of the Chapel books, it’s definitely the last chapters, when the novels have come ‘full circle.’ At least, I hope they have.

ATAI: What are you working on next?

Stephen Murray: Another fictional murder. This one set in Las Vegas.

ATAI: Where can people find you online?

Stephen Murray: www.authorstephenmurray.com

ATAI: Thank you for sharing with us and our audience.

Stephen Murray: It has been a real pleasure. It is always a joy with Authors Talk About It. Good luck with this new venture of yours, and my grateful thanks for all you do to promote the literary community.

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Chameleons: A Novel Based Upon Actual Events – Entered in the 2017 Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Marcus A. Nannini

In Marcus A. Nannini’s Chameleons, a human skeleton is discovered in Kailua, Hawaii. It is identified as belonging to the engineer of a Japanese midget submarine involved in the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. His logbook contains a dark secret: he and the commander of the submarine came ashore afterwards and assimilated themselves into the local Japanese-American population. Navy investigators must race to find the “chameleon” commander, and finally uncover the truth behind a haunting historical mystery.

In some ways, Chameleons feels a bit unbalanced. While the descriptive passages were excellent, much of the dialogue seemed lacking. In some areas, certain characters’ speech was so full of slang and jargon that it was difficult to follow. At other times, the dialogue between characters seemed stiff and unnatural. Considering how interesting other components of this novel are, the awkward dialogue was rather disappointing.

Aside from that, Chameleons was a rather entertaining read. Marcus A. Nannini included a little bit of everything in this well-rounded novel, from history and culture to mystery and drama.  It’s a fascinating and fully immersive recipe that’s full of intricate details and surprising twists. Fans of historical fiction or thrilling mysteries will surely be captivated by Chameleons from its very first page.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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Feathers in the Wind – Entered in 2017 Book Award Contest

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Lynn Case

In Lynn Case’s Feathers in the Wind, Catherine is left heartbroken and widowed after the sudden death of her beloved husband, S.J. She does the best she can to move on, ultimately deciding to pursue her dream of owning a ranch in Wyoming. Soon after she moves to Wyoming, however, mysterious events begin to unfold. Cattle are being horrifically slaughtered, and a shadowy stranger is seen lurking around the perimeters of her land. She enlists the help of her ranch hands and a Native American chief to get to the bottom of this mystery, but she soon discovers that there might be more to these events- including S.J.’s death- than meets the eye.

Feathers in the Wind is a bit of a difficult book to read, largely because of its dire need of thorough editing. There was hardly a single sentence in the entire novel that didn’t contain some sort of error. Aside from that, the general narrative was also grossly inconsistent. Painfully slow in some areas and rushing through others, the pacing needs work. Also, the constant shifts in perspective and time frame grew to be confusing rather quickly.

These drawbacks are truly quite a shame, because it’s clear that Lynn Case had an interesting idea in her mind. The bare plot of Feathers in the Wind was intriguing and certainly holds a great deal of potential. It features a unique blend of mystery, drama, and western literature that seems rather promising. The story is there, but it’s not executed nearly as well as it could be. With some comprehensive editing and a bit of fine-tuning, Feathers in the Wind could be an excellent novel. It just needs a bit of help to get there.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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Ghosts and Shadows – Entered in 2017 Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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H. Max Hiller

Ghosts and Shadows is the third installment of H. Max Hiller’s series about the adventurous Detective Cooter “Cadillac” Holland. An Iraq war veteran now working for the New Orleans Police Department, Detective Holland has seen his fair share of crime. Now, he’s suddenly caught in a whirlwind of mysterious cases that may end up threatening all that he holds dear. Using his trademark combination of unique work experience, bold intuition, and snarky wit, Detective Holland must do everything in his power to rid New Orleans of the seedy criminals running rampant through its streets.

At times, Ghosts and Shadows tended to be a bit slow and tedious. Especially in the beginning, much of the narrative revolved around explaining Detective Holland’s extensive professional background and web of connections. While these bits of exposition were certainly interesting in their own way, it felt a lot like one long “Previously on…” segment. A more subtle presentation of these factors would have made for a more immediately engaging novel. 

Aside from that, Ghosts and Shadows was a truly enjoyable book. It functions well enough as a standalone, too; the lengthy exposition certainly ensures that new readers can get on board quickly without having read the other books in the series. The plot itself was unique and fresh, which serves it well. Also, H. Max Hiller’s use of witty social commentary was especially fascinating, especially in Detective Holland’s comparison between post-Katrina New Orleans and a war-torn Baghdad. All in all, Ghosts and Shadows was a great read; it combines a profoundly different narrative with the page-turning, immersive mystery and action that die-hard fans of detective novels know and love.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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When Morning Comes Entered in 2017 Book Award Contest

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SW Frontz

In S. W. Frontz’s When the Morning Comes, Samantha Patrick is being hunted by the monsters in her past. In 1978, her father was involved in a feud with a group of Mexican drug runners. After he staged a surprise attack and shot them, including the son of infamous drug lord Manny Ruiz, the Ruiz family declared war. They kidnapped Samantha and brutalized her, leaving her traumatized and haunted for the rest of her days. Now, she’s moved on and married to Andy, the police officer who saved her, but the Ruiz family hasn’t forgotten them. They still want revenge, and they won’t stop until Samantha and Andy are dead. 

The concept behind When the Morning Comes is interesting enough, but truth be told, its execution leaves a lot to be desired. Its narrative is jumpy and inconsistent, as if it can’t seem to focus on any one thing at once. The pacing of the “big reveals” is sudden, almost to the point of being entirely unbelievable. It just gives everything away, and doesn’t allow much room for suspense to build. Also, the scene and character descriptions were rather lacking; instead, the novel focused on a “she did this, then she did this” narrative, which made When the Morning Comes read more like a spoken story than a well-developed written novel. 

Aside from that, When the Morning Comes was quite enjoyable. Its plot was deep and complex, with many interwoven story lines and character arcs that kept the story fresh and interesting. There were countless twists and turns; although some of them were quite predictable, it kept adding excitement and intrigue to an already impressive plot. S. W. Frontz clearly had a great story in mind here; although the fact remains that it could be better developed, When the Morning Comes is still a fine debut novel and a good read.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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Seldom Traveled

Today’s Featured Author and Book

Seldom Traveled

(Tempe Crabtree Mystery Series Book 15)

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Book Description:

The tranquility of the mountain community of Bear Creek is disrupted by a runaway fugitive, a vicious murderer, and a raging forest fire. Deputy Tempe Crabtree is threatened by all three.


Marylin Meredith

new-photo-of-marilyn

Marilyn Meredith, aka F. M. Meredith, is the author of over 30 published books. Writing has been a part of her life since she was 10 years old.

She married the cute sailor she met on a blind date and they raised five children and now have 18 grandchildren and 12 great-grands. Doing things with family is one of her favorite pasttimes. 

She’s had many jobs through the years: telephone operator, day care and nursery school teacher, teacher in a pre-school for developmentally disabled children, owner-operator of a licensed care home for developmentally disabled adults, and administrator and teacher for CEU classes for Administrators of licensed facilities.

She’s also taught many writing classes, been an instructor at writers’ conferences, appeared at mystery conventions, libraries and service and social groups.

She’s the Program Chair for the Public Safety Writers Association’s annual conference, the editor of the PSWA newsletter and also the newsletter editor for the California Residential Services Association.

She’s a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of American, PSWA and Epicauthors, 

Reading mysteries, going to movies and playing wild games with my great and grandkids are what she likes to do for fun.

http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com

 


If you enjoy these author interviews be sure you subscribe to Authors Talk About It via iTunes or follow on Podbean and get your copy of Seldom Traveled.

Peace and Love,

Rob and Janelle

 


Doors are open for the 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest! Deadline is 9/30/17

Book awards give you clout and credibility!

2016-grand-prize-winner-jpeg

You get more than just an entry into a contest!  All entries that earn at least 3 Stars get promotion, too!

Are you ready for the chance to be an award-winning author?  

Yes!  Excellent!

Click here to learn more and enter!


Authors join our Creative Author Marketing Facebook group

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 11.30.22 AM

A place to share tips, advice and wisdom about marketing your book. Ask for advice. We’re here for you!

Traveling entrepreneurs, Drs. Rob + Janelle Alex, Ph.D. share a wealth of knowledge and info with authors all over the world.  

We help you develop 3 key things you MUST have to gain success with your book.

Your Mindset
Your Tool Set
Your Skill Set

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The Inside Passage

Today’s Featured Author and Book

The Inside Passage

Click to get your copy!

Book Description:

Murder, Mystery and adventure on the restless ocean waters off the rugged coast of British Columbia. Seattle PR executive Michael Tanner sails to Desolation Sound with his wife and their close friend. It’s a relaxing, shakedown cruise for three amateur sailors. On a foggy morning disaster strikes and Tanner stands accused of negligence. With no help from the authorities, Tanner sets out to find the people who murdered his wife and her friend.


Notes: 

Previous interviews with Carl: The Case of the Yellow Diamond & The Case of the Purloined Painting.


 

Carl Brookins

2009Carl Brookins

Before he became a mystery writer and reviewer, Carl Brookins was a counselor and faculty member at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Brookins and his wife are avid recreational sailors. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Private Eye Writers of America. He can frequently be found touring bookstores and libraries with his companions-in-crime, The Minnesota Crime Wave.
 
He writes the sailing adventure series featuring Michael Tanner and Mary Whitney. The third novel is Old Silver. His new private investigator series features Sean NMI Sean, a short P.I. The first is titled The Case of the Greedy Lawyers. Brookins received a liberal arts degree from the University of Minnesota and studied for a MA in Communications at Michigan State University.

http://www.carlbrookins.com

 


If you enjoy these author interviews be sure you subscribe to Authors Talk About It via iTunes or follow on Podbean and get your copy of The Inside Passage.


Peace and Love,

Rob and Janelle

 


Authors join our Creative Author Marketing Facebook group

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 11.30.22 AM

A place to share tips, advice and wisdom about marketing your book. Ask for advice. We’re here for you!

Traveling entrepreneurs, Drs. Rob + Janelle Alex, Ph.D. share a wealth of knowledge and info with authors all over the world.  

We help you develop 3 key things you MUST have to gain success with your book.

Your Mindset
Your Tool Set
Your Skill Set


Have you checked out the 2017 Romance Novel Contest yet? Deadline is 1/15/17

Book awards give you clout and credibility!

2017 Romance Novel Contest

Are you ready for the chance to be an award-winning author?  

Yes!  Excellent!

Click here to learn more and enter!

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Target in the Sun – Entered in Romance Novel Contest


4 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Lynda Filler

Target in the Sun, written by Lynda Filler, is a very unusual approach to a romance novel.  Embedded with a wealth of suspense, heartbreak, hope and love, this story focuses on a romance between Carlos and Mia.  The story explores the Mexican drug cartel and trafficking between Mexico and numerous cities in the United States while it takes a deep dive into Carlos’ life.  He was orphaned at a young age and fought hard to overcome his tragic situation.  Eventually, he fell in love with Mia and together they find love and compassion again.  Lynda Filler shares this love story from the perspective of a decorated FBI agent, Lucia, who risks her entire career to help these two lovers escape the ultimate dangers they face from the Mexican drug cartel.  

Writing Target in the Sun in a journal entry style, Filler gives the reader a unique look into the characters.  This does lead to over 100 chapters, but many are only a few paragraphs in length.  The format is quite a different take and may not be to the liking of some tried and true romance novel fans.  However, this particular way of experiencing the story can be quite refreshing, and  when it comes to refreshing, the author does a fabulous job of painting a picture of the Puerto Vallarta area.  Wrapping readers up in the story goes well beyond descriptive imagery of Mexican locations though.  Expressing the intensity of Carlos and Mia’s experiences is something Filler does easily while she takes readers along for the ride.  This could be a great book for readers looking for a suspense-filled romance with a unique twist in writing style.

Originally reviewed by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com.

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Finding Fizz – Entered in Romance Novel Contest


5 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Julie Hodgson

In Julie Hodgson’s Finding Fizz, Sam has found himself in a beautiful, mystical land halfway between Heaven and everlasting purgatory. His guardian angel, Athena, explains that he is dead now, killed right around his twentieth birthday. However, Sam hasn’t just left his life behind; he also lost the love of his life, Fizz. Riddled with guilt, Athena offers to reincarnate him so he can return to Fizz- but there’s a catch. She can’t stop his eventual death, so each time she brings him back, he’s on a time crunch to finish his mission before that fateful day. There’s a chance that Sam could conquer his unfortunate demise, but only if he solves the mystery of his first death, the one that tore him away from Fizz in the first place.

Finding Fizz is a highly unusual book, but in the best way. It combines several genres- most notably romance, mystery, and fantasy- together into one melting pot of literary greatness. The concept might seem a bit odd, but it is executed wonderfully. The imagery that Julie Hodgson used in her novel was phenomenal; it was almost as if Finding Fizz was a masterpiece painting concocted only of words.

Its only downfalls were so minimal that they did not take away from its magic at all. First, it seemed to have a plethora of winding, run-on sentences that were sometimes hard to follow. The other is its dialogue; often when characters were speaking to one another, their dialogue seemed wooden or awkward. Beyond that, Finding Fizz was almost faultless. It was an enchanting read, unexpectedly unique and charming. Julie Hodgson’s fictional world was a pleasure to experience, and one that most readers would surely fall in love with.

Originally reviewed by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com.

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