Thursday, August 25, 2022

 This Week, I lost Myself In. . .

The Girls Who Were Found
Just when you thought it was safe to turn the light off, we get a rather macabre twist of fate that reminds us, life – however many times it comes around – just isn’t fair.

Take a peek at what to expect.


Kate Sullivan’s back from the dead, back from the Beyond, and ready to just be a normal girl again. She, Caro, and Darcy agree not to use their powers and to forget about the Beyond with the whispering ocean. Problem is, one of them is lying. She doesn’t want to move on, and she doesn’t want to be normal. The more she dreams of the Beyond, the more it feels like home. Will the others figure it out and save her before it’s too late?

Kerry Sullivan wants to leave the girls alone, leave the Beyond alone, but her boss isn’t so keen on that idea. She’s got a new lab, new subjects, and one chance to change all of their lives forever. But her brand new sacrifice has ideas of her own—she’s not going to die to go Beyond without taking someone with her.

Luke has moved on himself, even though he hasn’t quite given up on Kerry forever, but a knock at his door will turn his world upside down in a split second. When he answers Kerry’s call, Hannah heads out on a rescue mission, ready to face the Beyond once again.

As worlds collide and battles unfold, who will stay and who will go? Who can be saved and who is lost forever? Will any of them ever be free of the Beyond again?



The accelerated pace of the last story continues in, The Girls Who Were Found, the fourth book of L’Erin Ogle’s Beyond series. And as the blurb so clearly indicates, times running out, for rescuers and resurrected alike. The Beyond wants to reclaim its own, and concepts like keeping a low profile or working quietly behind the scenes simply don’t enter the equation. Smash n’ grab brutality and action does, snaring all of the main players in an ever tightening noose that leaves little room for maneuvering.

Yes, lives are about to be changed forever. . .

The trouble is, all these spooky goings-on are becoming increasingly public. So, how to keep a secret when more and more people are witnessing things that simply shouldn’t exist?

One thing’s for sure, Detective Claire Wlazniak and her partner don’t like secrets. Especially the ones that seem to swarm around Kate, her family, her friends, and just about anyone remotely associated with the institute that ‘mysteriously’ burned down. And with all the upheaval, they’re drawing ever closer to finding out the truth. And that can’t be good!

So, let the chaos continue! As you may comprehend, Ogle manages to keep a check on the pace, and steers the story arc along in a madcap, helter-skelter ride of mayhem, fun, and vicious action that keeps you turning the page. Needless to say, I really enjoyed it.

Amazon Review

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

 There's Nothing Cold about This Story

The Darkest Vengeance

Walsh Ritter has had a lot of time to reflect over the circumstances that led to his current predicament, first at the hands of a mad hermit, and later, at the behest of megalomaniac William Victorrio. You’d be forgiven for thinking that things couldn’t possibly get worse?

But you would be wrong. . .


Five years after the events that had left Walsh Ritter imprisoned in the ancient mountain fortress known as Agua Rocosa, William Victorrio’s daughter Angelina was now in full control of the family empire. All that she will require had been packed for her annual journey to the fortress where she would meet once again with the infamous gun hand Walsh Ritter. The fortress had its qualities, but it did not offer what she had in mind. To get Walsh Ritter to the Victorrio vacation home in the mountains, she would have to earn his trust and perhaps even his affections.

After three days of travel an accident occurred during a river crossing. Angelina’s life was completely in Walsh’s hands. It was up to him whether she lived or died. Unbelievable to her, Walsh chose to help her. Tending her wounds and caring for her as diligently as he could until he finally delivered her safely to the mountain cottage. Finally, she decided that she could wait no longer to start enacting her plan of vengeance. Walsh had to pay for the death of her mother. Painfully and methodically, she ushers him into a state of confinement that was as equally brutal as anything he had been subjected to back at the mountain fortress.


So, that’s an idea of what you’re going to get. And while the blurb does provide a bit of a spoiler, it doesn’t sour the impact of what’s to come. As we saw in The Darkest Sin, Jeff Crawford’s The Gun Hand Series is a bit of a dark horse when it comes delivering. And deliver it does, in a stylish, confident manner that makes no apologies for the brutality involved.
This is one of the few offerings I’ve read recently where the second book of the series is a marked step up. It’s terse. It’s edgy. It involves you, allowing you to experience what Ritter is going through. You empathize with his plight. Feel the abject misery he’s enduring. Spit and curse over those moments where he’s cruelly taken advantage of.

But the slow build is there. Oh yes. The pressure gradually increases toward a climax you just know HAS to come. And when that climax hits, it’s delivered in the cold, clinical fashion you’d expect of. . .

Ah, no spoilers from me.

If you want to find out what happens, I suggest you delve into the The Gun Hand Series yourself. Believe me; you’ll be glad you did. It’s one of the finest, morbidly intense, compelling examples of a dark psychological thriller you’ll ever read.

Amazon Review

Friday, August 12, 2022

There Are No Idle Hands In This Tale

The Devil’s Work

In The Devil’s Work, we find loner Jim Colton looking for a change of pace and scenery. Unfortunately for him, his plans are shunted onto the sidelines almost from the word go; as the blurb highlights:


Jim Colton has had enough of the Eastern U.S. with its big cities and bigger buildings. He longs for the quiet, untouched beauty of the West where a man like him can make it on his own. When his old friend, Alexander Price, offers him a ticket on a train bound for California, he takes it. How can he refuse?

Train life isn't what Colton expects, especially when there's an attempted train robbery by infamous bandit Scratch Maynard. But that's just the start of his strange ride through the United States. When people start dying in ritualistic murders, Colton doesn't know who he can trust except himself and his gun.


Yes, Jim Colton’s hope of finding that simpler life take a turn for the worse when he steps in and kills the leader of a gang out to rob the train he’s travelling on. And it’s not because the marshal or any of the agents on the train are out to cause him trouble. Far from it. The problem stems from the antics of some of the gang members themselves, who are obviously crazy. After all, they hear voices . . . and normal people just don’t do that. Do they?

What follows is a spiraling nightmare of murder, misdirection and deceit, instigated at the behest of a killer who will stop at nothing to get their way. It falls to Colton to do something about it. He’s a loner, don’t forget. A survivor, used to fending for himself. Only this time out, he has to do that within the confines of a train. And with time running out, it’ll take all his skills to survive. You’ll see.

Once again, I really enjoyed Jon Dobbin’s economical writing style. He has a story to tell, and does just that in an easy to understand/easy to follow manner that allows you to immerse yourself in the narrative and follow along as Colton tries to unravel this latest mystery without getting himself killed – by bad guys or the law.

Well worth a ride!

Thursday, August 4, 2022

 Ah, Those Moody Streets of Prague. . .

The Lights of Prague

The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis was another of those novels I caught mentioned on Black Gate Fantasy. Not being able to resist what they said about it, I decided to give it a try. And boy, was I glad I did!

Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite:


In the quiet streets of Prague all manner of mysterious creatures lurk in the shadows. Unbeknownst to its citizens, their only hope against the tide of predators are the dauntless lamplighters – secret elite of monster hunters whose light staves off the darkness each night. Domek Myska leads a life teeming with fraught encounters with the worst kind of evil: pijavice, bloodthirsty and soulless vampiric creatures. Despite this, Domek finds solace in his moments spent in the company of his friend, the clever and beautiful Lady Ora Fischerová - a widow with secrets of her own. 
When Domek finds himself stalked by the spirit of the White Lady - a ghost who haunts the baroque halls of Prague castle – he stumbles across the sentient essence of a will-o’-the-wisp captured in a mysterious container. Now, as its bearer, Domek wields its power, but the wisp, known for leading travellers to their deaths, will not be so easily controlled. 
After discovering a conspiracy amongst the pijavice that could see them unleash terror on the daylight world, Domek finds himself in a race against those who aim to twist alchemical science for their own dangerous gain.


So, how to explain what happens without giving the game away?

The Lights of Prague is a comprehensive blend of mythology, the mystical and mystery, all wrapped up in the noir, moody setting of one of the most ancient, evocative and Bohemian cities in existence. Even better, Jarvis keeps a well established trope interesting by wisely rooting the story in the latter half of the nineteenth century, thereby avoiding the temptation to use – what is to me, at any rate – the overused ‘get-out clause’ allowed by modern-day technology – to even the playing field when there are supernatural foes to battle.

And there’s plenty that’s supernatural about The Lights of Prague.

It’s 1868, and the Lamplighters are a secretive group of men assigned to keep Prague’s many neighborhoods safe at night – ostensibly by extending their duties as caretakers of the city’s gas streetlamps – with that of being alert for paranormal shenanigans. And if they discover such goings-on, they are empowered – and trained – to take instant action to eradicate them.

However – and being careful NOT to spoil a polished and rather clever plot – things are not as they first appear. Yes, there’s been a status-quo of sorts between the forces of good and evil for many years. However, rumors start to circulate of a cure for vampirism. And when I say cure, I mean a remedy that allows such creatures to retain their preternatural strengths, while allowing them to walk in daylight. Something that must be avoided at all costs.

But how to combat such developments when all you have to go on are scant whispers and tidbits of intelligence from too many unrelated sources?

Ah, you’ll find out in a well grounded, cleverly paced little mystery/action/adventure that pits heroes and heroines against dastardly villains; entrenched diehards against open their more open-minded, progressive counterparts; and a stagnating society, more concerned by class and status than the real danger lurking in their midst.

Yes, The Lights of Prague is a rather evocative, gothic little romp through some of the most magical streets in existence, and a superb introduction to what I’m sure will be the first of many books in a new series . . .

You’ll see.