Friday, December 23, 2022

 Shining A Light On. . .

The Darkest Event

Walsh Ritter. A name synonymous with death and suffering. You’d think that – just for once – fate would deal this gunslinger a better hand. In that, you’d be wrong. . .

As the blurb highlights only too well:


Gun hand and tragic figure Walsh Ritter is tired. Tired of life, tired of all the killing, tired of being Walsh Ritter. So when fate lands him in New Orleans, he is content with the fact that no one knows him, wants to kill or torture him, or wants to bother him. Then one day he meets a woman who is looked upon by society much the same as he is. With this woman in his life, Walsh believes he can finally put away his gun for good and live the life he's always dreamed of living.

He comes home from work to find a crowd gathered outside his home. There has been what the police are calling "an unfortunate accident,” and his wife has been taken to the hospital. At the strenuous request of the local constabulary, Walsh goes to be beside his wife and allows the law to take care of those who have caused his wife harm. Walsh's wife passes away, and the Walsh Ritter that he had hoped was gone for good returns with a vengeance. 

Through Louisiana and Texas, Walsh does what he does better than anyone—he hunts and he survives. Walsh uses all of the skills he has learned to make the final hours of the culprits of his wife’s demise worse than they could have ever imagined, but not so bad as they truly deserved. They learn only too well why you do not take away that which Walsh Ritter cares about. All that we ever suspected might be bottled up inside of Walsh is finally released, and we see just what he is capable of.



Yes, there’s only so much a man can take. And when that man is Walsh Ritter; a man with a broken, tar-black heart, you can bet that vengeance comes on flaming wings.

I really – really – enjoyed this book. Jeff Crawford encapsulates Ritter’s descent back into the pit of death and destruction with a skilled malevolence that is as focused as it is a long trail of sparking gunpowder winding its way off into the dark toward an explosive climax. It’s painful; it’s personal; it’s profoundly moving. So much so that you can empathize with what he’s going through.

But Ritter doesn’t want your sympathy.

There’s no room for remorse; for regrets or mercy. It’s retribution, plain and simple. And while Ritter does distract himself with gentle reminiscent diversions along the way, it’s obvious that he’s accepted the inevitable. Men are going to die by his hand. And because of the nature of their crimes, he’ll make their passing as slow and agonizing as possible. After all, he’s learned a thing or two about endurance and pain over the past five years. Now it’s time to put those lessons into practice.

The Darkest Event, a gloriously satisfying tale that will keep you thinking long after you’ve turned the last page.

Friday, December 16, 2022

 See My Review Of. . .

Dark Scar

Marcus Abshire’s Ways of the Warlock Series goes from strength to strength in this latest outing. And as you can imagine, it involves a concentrated spate of nonstop action.

I’ll let the blurb speak for itself:


I don’t go looking for trouble. Honestly, I don’t. Not that it cares. Trouble still has a way of finding me.

I’ve escaped from the Deep, killed beings of immense power, given up using dark magic, and stopped being a murderous jerk.

Now, I just want to keep things quiet, run my bar, and try to limit the number of horrible monsters trying to kill me. But when do we ever get what we want?

In Las Vegas, the city of sin and land of opportunity or ruin, my old friend Finds has disappeared, and it’s up to me to help. He didn’t give me much to go on before he vanished, just a mysterious message about finding Kressa, whatever the hell that means.

All I need to do is locate my friend, fight off deadly packs of deep hounds and avoid being annihilated by an orcish war party. There’s not too much at stake; just my life, my friend’s life, and the future of the entire orc nation.

When you come to Vegas, you have to be prepared to gamble. You have to believe you can win… and be willing to lose, even if it costs you everything.


Yes, Jakobus Shaw is forced to take on a most frustrating case. One where he must assume the debt of a friend – and a lethal one at that – in order to stand a better chance of rescuing that same friend, who, it transpires, has gone missing under mysterious circumstances.

As usual, I won’t give anything about the plot away.  But what I will say is that every step forward Jakobus manages to take is a waste of time, for he ends up sliding back twice as far. He’s attacked, relentlessly, from all sides, putting those who have chosen to assist him in his quest in mortal danger. As you can imagine, that leads to a relentless cat and mouse chase through the streets of Las Vegas, where it’s never quite clear who is friend and foe.

What I particularly liked about this story is that despite the frantic pace, you don’t get tired out. Abshire manages to keep things fresh and upbeat with great imagination and skill; with down-to-earth wit and dialogue; and with plenty of gritty action. I really enjoyed it, and am sure the rest of the series will progress in a similar five-star manner.

Friday, December 9, 2022

 See What I Thought Of. . .

The Quantum War

I’ve followed Derek Künsken’s Quantum Evolution series ever since reading a review about it on Blackgate Fantasy last year. And needless to say, I haven’t been disappointed one bit, as Künsken’s first to offerings, The Quantum Magician and The Quantum Garden transported me back to the days of my youth, when I regularly emptied the library of every pure science fiction book on the shelves.

And here, in this third book of the series, I was glad to find myself time travelling again,


The war rages onward and the Union’s premier fighter pilots, the Homo Eridanus, start encountering deadly resistance from strange pilots on the Congregate side. Among wreckage, they find that new Congregate pilots are, in fact, Homo quantus, with strange wiring and AI connections.

At the same time, the Puppets come to the Union with offers of an alliance for a dangerous price: the rescue of the geneticist Antonio Del Casal who is a captive on Venus, with over a hundred Homo quantus.

Only one person might be able to break through the Congregate defenses at Venus, and he’s a con man.


So, what do we get?


A hard splash of reality. That’s what!

In a sci-fi novel? Oh yes.

The previous novels cleverly sowed the seeds for what we read in The Quantum War:

And it’s a profound truth. That for all their expansive lebensraum, humanity is a petty, divisive little speck in the cosmic scheme of things. Instead of embracing change and those opportunities that offer a massive leap forward in their evolutionary and technological development, they prefer to hang on to what they’ve got. And not only jealously guard it, but systematically eradicate anything that might threaten their fragile sense of self.

As far as the Congregate are concerned, the Homo quantus are a clear and present threat. One that must be dealt with at all costs.


Now, I’ll leave it to Künsken to reveal how THAT particular conundrum will be dealt with.


But what I can say is that his story grabs you by the throat and punches so hard it’ll leave a hole in your throat. It’s fast; it’s furious; and is as frustrating as it is fulfilling. But you never lose your place. Instead, you’re swept along by a delightfully brutal portrayal of the reality of war, especially those conflicts instigated by bigger, coldhearted bullies seeking to impose their will on those about them.

War isn’t clean, and it certainly isn’t pretty. And there are always casualties that you wish could have been spared.


I really enjoyed it, and tipped my cap to the manner in which Künsken brought things to a fitting conclusion.