Red Burning Sky: A WWIINovel Inspired by the Greatest Aviation Rescue in History by Tom Young – #BookReview – #HistoricalFiction

Book Blurb:

From the author of Silver Wings, Iron Cross comes a suspenseful and thrilling saga based on the true story of one of World War II’s most daring and successful rescue missions.

Red Burning Sky by Tom YoungSummer 1944: Yugoslavia is locked in a war within a war. In addition to fighting the German occupation, warring factions battle each other. Hundreds of Allied airmen have been shot down over this volatile region, among them American lieutenant Bill Bogdonavich. Though grateful to the locals who are risking their lives to shelter and protect him from German troops, Bogdonavich dreams of the impossible: escape.

With three failed air missions behind him, Lieutenant Drew Carlton is desperate for redemption. From a Texas airbase he volunteers for a secretive and dangerous assignment, codenamed Operation Halyard, that will bring together American special operations officers, airmen, and local guerilla fighters in Yugoslavia’s green hills. This daring plan—to evacuate hundreds of stranded airmen while avoiding detection by the Germans—faces overwhelming odds. What follows is one of the greatest stories of World War II heroism, an elaborate rescue that required astonishing courage, sacrifice, and resilience.

Red Burning Sky is a riveting and ultimately triumphant military thriller based on true events, all the more remarkable for being so little known—until now.

His Review:

Yugoslavia is between Italy and Romania and Romania is the source of oil for fuel for the Nazi’s. The “Miss Carolina’s” mission is to disrupt the oil field and production of fuel for the Nazi’s. The mission is never easy and the flight path is over Yugoslavia where they are in the midst of a civil war between the Partisans led by Marshal Tito and the Chetniks.

Red Burning Sky by Tom YoungThe B-24 has taken heavy fire and many of the crew are dead. The order must be given to bail out as the plane is no longer able to be controlled. Bogdonavich is the gunner in the nose compartment. He sees nearly eight Messerschmitt BF109’s attacking the plane. The plane shudders and reports of burning wings and engines cause the pilot to order the evacuation of the plane.

Bogdonavich leaves the plane and his parachute opens before he gets whipped by the trees approaching the ground. He wonders how many men were able to exit the aircraft. Cutting his parachute cords he approaches a tree-line and sees three people approaching him; a young boy, an old man, and a pretty young lady. They take him to a farmhouse but make no effort to hide him. The young boy is part of the Chetnik group that is aiding downed allied aircrew. A bullet in the head is their reward if they are caught.

Nearly 500 US and allied airmen are rescued by these freedom fighters! The one rescuing Bogdonavich is a 17-year-old named Vasa the Wolf. The people of Yugoslavia are assisting downed pilots from being captured by the Germans. They supply hiding places, food, and medical assistance to the airmen at the peril of instant death.

This saga is about a mission in WWII that was classified top secret during the war. The final reward for the rescue of the pilots was silence and deniability by the war department. No air medals nor ribbons for bravery were ever awarded. This is the first exposure of this small part of the war. That 500 airmen could have been rescued by the Chetniks and never recognized seems unthinkable particularly because the Partisans under Marshall Tito wound up the ruling faction after the war and the Chetniks were considered the enemy.

CE WilliamsI recommend this book as a means of understanding the sacrifices for anyone who is a war buff. The writing will help to understand some of the unsung heroes of WWII. 4.5 stars – CE Williams

We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Historical World War II Fiction, Historical Thrillers
Publisher: Kensington Books
ASIN: B0964FXLFS
Print Length: 300 pages
Publication Date: February 22, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Red Burning Sky [Amazon] 
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Kobo

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The Author: Thomas W. Young has logged nearly 5,000 hours as a flight engineer for the Air National Guard in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, and elsewhere, including Latin America, the Horn of Africa, and the Far East. Military honors include three Air Medals, three Aerial Achievement Medals, and the Air Force Combat Action Medal. He retired from the military as a Senior Master Sergeant.

He holds degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and studied writing there and at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, among other places. He is also the author of the oral history The SpeedFour  of Heat: An Airlift Wing at War in Iraq and Afghanistan, and contributed to the anthology Operation Homecoming, edited by Andrew Carroll.

 More information about Tom Young and his work can be found online at TomYoungBooks.com.

©CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

 

 

 

A Valiant Deceit (An Olive Bright Mystery Book 2) by Stephanie Graves – #BookReview – #historicalmysteries

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

A Valiant Deceit by Stephanie GravesYoung pigeoneer Olive Bright has been conscripted, with her racing birds, to aid the fight against the Nazis. It’s not the daring role she’d envisioned for herself, but her quiet little English village is not nearly as sheltered as she imagined . . .

Returning to Pipley following her FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) training, Olive is eager to step up her involvement in the war effort. Her pigeons are being conscripted to aid the Belgian resistance, and it’s up to Olive to choose the best birds for the mission. To protect the secrecy of their work, she must also continue the ruse of being romantically involved with her superior, Captain Jameson Aldridge, a task made more challenging by the fact that she really does have feelings for the gruff Irish intelligence officer.

But perhaps the greatest challenge of all comes when an instructor at Station XVII, the top-secret training school housed at Brickendonbury Manor, is found dead in Balls Wood by a troop of Girl Guides. The police quickly rule Lieutenant Jeremy Beckett’s death an accident, but based on clues she finds at the scene, Olive begins to suspect he might have been a spy.  Involving the reluctant Jamie, she is determined to solve the murder and possibly stop a threat to their intelligence efforts which could put the Belgians—not to mention her pigeons—in grave danger.

His Review:

Bullets and bombs were not the only weapons in use during WW II. During war, information is extremely valuable. Troop movements, weapons deployment, and stockpiles are viable targets of value. The distance between the British Isles and the European mainland is very small in some locations.

Olive has been using and training pigeons for racing and sport. Small packets of information attached to a pigeon’s legs are usually undetectable. The birds were often dropped into enemy territory with spies. Vital troop movements and concentrations could then be sent back to England via these birds. Olive was very proud of her flock and their accomplishments.

A Valiant Deceit by Stephanie GravesShe became very attached to her aviary friends and gave each of them a name. As they were shuttled into Belgium and France, she would look for them to return to their cages. Attached to their legs were usually a 2 1/2 to 3 inch canister with a coded message inserted. The messages helped to win the war and protect some of the inserted spies and combatants.

Stephanie Graves has added a valuable piece of war history and memorabilia in this entertaining tale. Her character, Olive, is a Nancy Drew want to be who has solved some crimes in her day. Her commanding officer is Jameson Aldridge. He is skeptical of the entire mission and continually questions she and her birds’ abilities to help in the war effort.

CE WilliamsGrudgingly he admits to her accomplishments, but keeps a close rein on her activities, as she tends to get herself into trouble with her constant delving into other people’s affairs. The story is fun and imaginative. I really enjoyed the author and her repartee between the characters. Overall, a very fun and engaging read. 5 stars – CE Williams

We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical World War II Fiction, Historical Mysteries
Publisher: Kensington Books
ASIN: B093XVNDBH
Print Length: 329 pages
Publication Date: January 25, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s): A Valiant Deceit [Amazon] 
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Kobo

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Stephanie Graves - authorThe Author: STEPHANIE GRAVES has recently turned from happily-ever-afters to murder. The author of four published novels under the pseudonym Alyssa Goodnight, she transitioned to writing under her real name with her debut historical mystery, OLIVE BRIGHT, PIGEONEER. Her books have been featured in Entertainment Weekly, First for Women and Woman’s World. She lives with her family and two rescue pups in Houston.

Visit her at msstephgraves.com to subscribe to her newsletter or find her on FB, Twitter, Instagram or BookBub.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Enter a Wizard, Stage Left (A Zodiac Mystery) by Connie di Marco #BlogTour #BookReview – #Giveaway

Enter a Wizard Stage Left by Connie DiMarco
I am delighted to provide a review for you at my blog stop today for Enter a Wizard, Stage Left by Connie di Marco on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Book Details

Enter a Wizard, Stage Left (A Zodiac Mystery)
Traditional Mystery
Prequel Novella
Suspense Publishing (October 26, 2021)
Print length ‏ : ‎ 111 pages
ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09JGV526H

Book Blurb

Julia Bonatti wasn’t always a crime-solving San Francisco astrologer. She was a young woman, engaged to the love of her life, preparing for a teaching career when tragedy struck. Her fiancé was killed in a hit and run accident. As Julia struggles with her loss and attempts to find meaning in her life again, she takes refuge with her grandmother Gloria. But there’s little time for grief or rest because Gloria, a retired seamstress, needs Julia’s help. Gloria’s been hired to create costumes for a production of Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death at the newly opened Theatre Mars in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood.

Theatre Mars is a stunning jewel, the cast is supremely talented and the script is brilliant. What could go wrong? Julia gets the first hint of trouble when her new friend, the owner of The Mystic Eye bookshop, warns that all might not go well. Opening night will take place during the dark of the moon, the last three days before the new moon, a time that bodes disaster for any new project. The dire prediction comes true when the lead actress is murdered before the final curtain, echoing the play itself. Julia discovers a vital clue to the murder, but a clue that puts Gloria’s life in grave danger. Can Julia rescue her grandmother before it’s too late? And will a black cat play a leading role?

My Review

Thank heaven for Grandmother Gloria’s welcoming and understanding home after the sudden fatal accident that killed Julia Bonatti’s fiancé. Julia badly needed a different scene, a waystation to give her the necessary time to push through the grieving process.

Enter a Wizard, Stage Left by Connie di MarcoGloria is a retired seamstress and is involved in the local theatre group facing opening night. They’ve requested Gloria deliver the costumes for a dress rehearsal and to fix any costume problems they may be facing with the various actors and the diva busy making life miserable for all in the cast. She asks for Julia’s help. The production is an Agatha Christie mystery, Appointment with Death. Oops! That title may be prophetic.

Julia takes the opportunity to check out The Mystic Eye Bookshop next door, but the owner promptly warns her that the timing, astrologically-speaking, is asking for disaster. Unfortunately, the prediction comes true when the nasty lead actress is actually murdered before the opening night final curtain.

Ah, I love the subject of astrology and dove into this prequel to the series having previously jumped into the Tale of the Dragon. It’s a fascinating study and Julia begins the research and analysis that leads to her own astrology clinic. There is a lot to the Zodiac and the author imparts a few interesting tidbits along the way.

While Julia is an interesting protagonist, I really enjoy support characters Gloria and Kuan. And let’s not forget the kitty! Fun, fast little mystery, though I was left scratching my head a bit over the search and rescue.

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one of (10) Digital Copies of Enter a Wizard, Stage Left (A Zodiac Mystery) by Connie di Marco on the Rafflecopter giveaway.

Connie di Marco - authorAbout The Author: With the Zodiac Mysteries, featuring Julia Bonatti, a crime-solving San Francisco astrologer, Connie di Marco has combined her fascination with astrology and her love of writing mysteries.  Writing as Connie Archer, she’s the national bestselling author of the Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime.  You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook.  She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime.  She lives in Los Angeles but dreams constantly of the San Francisco fog.

Author Links

Website:  http://www.conniedimarco.com/

Blog:  http://www.conniedimarco.com/blog/

FaceBook:  https://www.facebook.com/zodiacmysteries/  or https://www.facebook.com/zodiacmysteries/

Amazon:  https://amzn.to/3HdGb25

Twitter: @Connie di Marco

GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard?ref=nav_profile_authordash

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/connie_di_marco/

Purchase Link – Amazon

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!

Tour Participants:

January 5 – Maureen’s Musings – REVIEW

January 5 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

January 6 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

January 6 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 7 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, GUEST POST

January 7 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT

January 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

January 8 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

January 9 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 10 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

January 10 – Nadaness In Motion – REVIEW

January 11 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 12 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 13 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 14 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

January 15 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

January 16 – Nellie’s Book Nook – REVIEW, GUEST POST

January 17 – I Read What You Write – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 18 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book -SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this cozy mystery!

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Where There’s a Will (Roland Sinclair WWII Mysteries Book 10) by Sulari Gentill – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

2021 NED KELLY AWARD NOMINEE, BEST CRIME FICTION

Book Blurb:

Hell hath no fury like a family disinherited…

Where There's a Will by Sulari GentillAmerican millionaire Daniel Cartwright has been shot dead: three times in the chest, and once in the head. His body is found in Harvard Yard, dressed in evening attire. No one knows who he planned to meet there, or why the staunch Oxford man would be caught dead at Harvard—literally.

Australian Rowland Sinclair, his mate from Oxford and longtime friend, is named executor of the will, to his great surprise—and that of Danny’s family. Events turn downright ugly when the will all but disinherits Danny’s siblings in favor of one Otis Norcross, whom no one knows or is able to locate. Amidst assault, kidnapping, and threats of slander, Rowly struggles to understand Danny’s motives, find the missing heir, and identify his friend’s killer before the clock—and his luck—run out.

A deft blend of history and mystery, WHERE THERE’S A WILL offers an alternately charming and chilling snapshot of Boston and New York in the 1930s, with cameo appearances by luminaries of the day including Marion Davies, Randolph Hearst, Errol Flynn, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and an arrogantly ardent Joe Kennedy, who proves no match for Rowly’s sculptress friend Edna…

My Review:

I love it when I can get into daily life of the 1930s crowd, although these characters are all so wealthy it was difficult for me to identify.  The background is Boston, New York, and North Carolina and name-dropping throughout the narrative brought some jolting moments. Not that old, but these support or peripheral characters are names even most younger people would recognize.

The protagonist, Rowland Sinclair, and his cronies are Australian called from Singapore to Boston upon notice of the death of a close and dear friend, David Cartwright. Rowland is accompanied by Edna (who he insists on calling Ed), Clyde, and Milton. To Rowland’s horror, he has been named executor of David’s will. Upon reading of the will, however, the family discovers the bulk of David’s wealth is to go to one Otis Norcross—assuming he can be found. The Cartwrights are not happy.

In languid prose, the narrative proceeds with no one breaking out a sweat to find Otis—although that is the declared objective from the beginning as well as the discovery of who killed David. In the meantime, the novel introduces all manner of early to mid-thirties characters, invoking scenes in which Marion Davies, Joseph Kennedy, or William Randolph Hearst might appear. (Followed by Errol Lynn and Orson Wells.)

“Reputation is what you are supposed to be; character is what you are.”

There are gangsters, both Irish and Italian, formal dress codes for dinner, fashions, sights and sounds of the time along with delightful and entertaining quotes from news reports as intro to new chapters.  I also enjoyed the lively scenes of the dance halls, noting the Savoy in New York and the creation and popularity of the Lindy Hop.*

There are twists, turns, and shenanigans that sidetrack the MCs and I loved the tidbits regarding some of those historical figures as well as F Scott Fitzgerald and Monopoly (the Parker Brothers game that saved the company). So many historical luminaries woven into the story!

I must admit that my attention waned several times throughout the book as the gain in the whodunit was rather slow, then something would happen to spark my interest again. Took a while to get to the heart of the matter, the histories of the victim and the missing Otis, and I’d guessed the antagonist shortly after introduction to the plot.

My first experience with the author and the series, it’s obvious that Rowland and Ed have a thing, have had for some time, so I wasn’t particularly thrilled about the solution in the conclusion but any history buff would enjoy the Louella Parsons worthy gossip.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

Trigger Warning: Homophobia

Rosepoint Rating: Four Stars 4 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Organized Crime, Historical Mysteries
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN: 1464214905
ASIN: B09158FKZ2
Print Length: 386 pages
Publication Date: January 18, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

Sulari Gentill-authorThe Author: After setting out to study astrophysics, graduating in law and then abandoning her legal career to write books, Sulari now grows French black truffles on her farm in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains of NSW. Sulari is author of The Rowland Sinclair Mystery series, historical crime fiction novels (eight in total) set in the 1930s. Sulari’s A Decline in Prophets (the second book in the series) was the winner of the Davitt Award for Best Adult Crime Fiction 2012. She was also shortlisted for Best First Book (A Few Right Thinking Men) for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2011. Paving the New Road was shortlisted for another Davitt in 2013.

[Goodreads] Sulari lives with her husband, Michael, and their boys, Edmund and Atticus, on a small farm in Batlow where she grows French Black Truffles and refers to her writing as “work” so that no one will suggest she get a real job.

* The Lindy Hop is an American dance which was born in the African-American communities in Harlem, New York City, in 1928. [Wikipedia]

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Head Shot (The Marko Zorn Series Book 2) by Otho Eskin – #BookReview – #policeprocedural

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

The Most Elusive Assassin in the World Versus D.C. Homicide Detective Marko Zorn

Head Shot by Otho EskinWashington, D.C. homicide detective Marko Zorn is investigating the murder of an actress—an old love—when he is assigned to protect the visiting prime minister of Montenegro, the beautiful Nina Voychek.

Political enemies are planning her assassination—this, he knows—but now it’s apparent that he, too, is a target. As he foils the initial attempts on his life, he pulls out all stops—deploying his sometimes nefarious resources—to hunt whoever is targeting him and prevent an international tragedy on American soil.

Decoded messages, Supermax prisoner interviews, mafia lawyers, and an ancient Black Mountain curse swirl among the icons of D.C. Marko and his young partner, Lucy, face down what may be multiple assassins with diverging agendas. Or are they facing one assassin—the deadliest and most elusive on the international stage?

Perfect for fans of David Baldacci and Daniel Silva

His Review:

Marko Zorn is not a popular Washington Metropolitan police detective. This novel starts out with a rifle bullet barely missing him as he bends down to pick up his newspaper. His abrasive attitude and demeanor have caused most people to keep him at arms-length. His superiors put him on details that keep him out of the office and away from his fellow officers.

Head Shot by Otho EskinWhen a popular actress from Montenegro is sent death threats, he and his partner Lucy are assigned to protect the lady. The ambassador of Montenegro is not happy but bows to pressure from both the U.S. government and the government of Montenegro. Nina Voychek is involved in a stage presentation whose main actress is killed during a performance. Zorn is chosen as a bodyguard during Nina’s time in America.  Having recently been a target, Zorn would prefer to be on the down-low. Instead, he is a bodyguard to a theatre group who would prefer he disappear.

Otho Eskin has written a realistic-designed hero in Marko Zorn. He is not the usual tall and dark James Bond type but rather overweight and short. His reputation among law enforcement has been tarnished by service in Chicago. It became endearing to engage with a hero that is less than perfect. His investigations are at time bumbling–bringing to mind Columbo. However, his successful record speaks for itself.

CE WilliamsThe climax is intriguing and very innovative. I particularly appreciated the outcome because of the continual pressure placed upon Ms. Voychek by her country’s ambassador and entourage. I suggest anyone who desires a good escapist tale buy the book. 5 stars – CE Williams

Book 2 but can be read as a standalone. We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Espionage Thrillers, Police Procedurals
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
ASIN: B08S4646SJ
Print Length: 305 pages
Publication Date: December 14, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Head Shot [Amazon] 
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Otho Eskin - authorThe Author: Otho Eskin published his first thriller, The Reflecting Pool, to great reviews and book club interest in 2020. It was selected as an Amazon Editors’ Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller and Suspense. The Reflecting Pool follows Marko Zorn- a Washington D.C. homicide detective who has a strong ethical compass but refuses to play by the rules. The sequel, Head Shot, also featuring Marko Zorn will be released in December, 2021.

Before he turned to writing fiction, Otho Eskin served in the U.S. Army and in the United States Foreign Service in Washington and in Syria, Yugoslavia, Iceland and Berlin (then the capital of the German Democratic Republic) as a lawyer and diplomat. He was Vice-Chairman of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, participated in the negotiations on the International Space Station, was principal U.S. negotiator of several international agreements on seabed mining and was the U.S. representative to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. He speaks French, German, and Serbo-Croatian. He was a frequent speaker at conferences and has testified before the U.S. Congress and commissions.

Otho’s career in the Foreign Service unknowingly prepared him for thriller writing later in life as he witnessed political corruption at every strata of society. While stationed in East Berlin during the cold war, the East German intelligence service (Stasi) operating on behalf of their Soviet masters, published a book entitled “Who’s who in CIA (correct title), translated into several languages and with wide distribution. This propaganda effort listed Otho and was intended to claim that he was a U.S. spy. (He was not). This was part of East German and ultimately Soviet, disinformation campaign to make the work of U.S. Foreign Service officers serving abroad more difficult.

Otho Eskin has also written plays including: Act of God, Murder as a Fine Art, Duet, Julie, Final Analysis, Season in Hell, among others, which have been professionally produced in Washington, New York and in Europe.

Otho is married to writer Therese Keane and lives in Washington, D.C.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

The Silent Sisters (Charles Jenkins Book 3) by Robert Dugoni – #BookReview – International Mystery and Crime

“When you can have everything, you appreciate nothing.”

Book Blurb:

The Silent Sisters by Robert DugoniAfter a harrowing escape from Russian agents on his last mission, Charles Jenkins thinks he’s finally done with the spy game. But then the final two of the seven sisters—American assets who have been deep undercover in Russia for decades—cut off all communication with their handlers. Are they in hiding after detecting surveillance? Or have they turned and become double agents? It’s Jenkins’s duty to find out, but he’s been added to a Russian kill list. It will require all of Jenkins’s knowledge of spycraft—and an array of disguises—to return to the country undetected.

But plans go awry his first night in Moscow when Jenkins gets involved in an altercation that ends in the death of the son of one of Russia’s most powerful organized crime leaders. Pursued by mafia henchmen, Russian agents, and a particularly dogged Moscow police detective, Jenkins is determined to track down the final two sisters and get them to America—or die trying. As various forces close in, Jenkins fears this time he might’ve pushed his luck too far. 

My Review:

The first of my 2-22-22 reviews, don’t you know I’m a Dugoni fan having read a number of his Tracy Crosswhite series, and this, the last in his Charles Jenkins trilogy. Once again the aging ex-CIA agent is being sent back to Russia to safely extricate two remaining of the “silent sisters.”

The Silent Sisters by Robert DugoniThese missions are not getting any easier for Charles, a 6’5” black man who would probably stand out most anywhere but in Russia will require a number of ingenious disguises. He’s good at this even at 64 (65?) years—has done it before—most recently Paulina, and that’s casually mentioned in this episode.

Jenkins quickly moves the first to safety but then runs into a bit of trouble with the second. His own doing and what kinda nudged me off five stars this time, that I couldn’t believe with his track record he’d have made such a thoughtless mistake. Of course, that sets off the other well-plotted multi-antagonists as if it isn’t bad enough to anger the Russian counterintelligence.

As always, however, I enjoy getting a front row seat to the area, in this case Moscow, off the beaten path, a tour no tourist would ever get. Dugoni’s characters—yah gotta love’em. The engaging and effective women or men meant to love, you love; the antagonists meant to loathe are truly disgusting and all are well-developed.

The fast-paced series MOVES! Between flipping between mafioso, Russian intelligence, and spies, the plot never waivers or slows. Your heart sinks or soars with the twists and turns, charismatic characters to root for, and the prose thought provoking.

“…love is not about who you can live with, but about who you cannot live without.”

Always satisfying, the conclusion eases the amped tension. You could actually read this as a standalone, but for more insight into the main characters, I also recommend both The Eighth Sister and The Last Agent.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Rating: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery & Crime, Espionage Thrillers
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ISBN: ‎1542008344
ASIN: B08WLVP716
Print Length: 399 pages
Publication Date: February 22, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s): The Silent Sisters

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Robert Dugoni - authorThe Author: Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and #1 Amazon bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite police series set in Seattle, which has sold more than 8 million books worldwide. He is also the author of The Charles Jenkins espionage series, the David Sloane legal thriller series, and several stand-alone novels including The 7th Canon, Damage Control, and the literary novels, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell – Suspense Magazine’s 2018 Book of the Year, for which Dugoni’s narration won an AudioFile Earphones Award and the critically acclaimed, The World Played Chess; as well as the nonfiction exposé The Cyanide Canary, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Several of his novels have been optioned for movies and television series. Dugoni is the recipient of the Nancy Pearl Award for Fiction and a three-time winner of the Friends of Mystery Spotted Owl Award for best novel set in the Pacific Northwest. He has also been a finalist for many other awards including the International Thriller Award, the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, the Silver Falchion Award for mystery, and the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award.

Robert Dugoni’s books are sold in more than twenty-five countries and have been translated into more than thirty languages.

Visit his website at http://www.robertdugoni.com, and follow him on twitter @robertdugoni and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorRobertDugoni

©2022 V Williams

First book of 2022
First book of 2022

Big Lies in a Small Town: A Novel by Diane Chamberlain – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

North Carolina, 2018:

Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, her dream of a career in art is put on hold – until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will get her released from prison immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy Southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to be free, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940:

Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and in great need of work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin’s Press.

My Review:

WOW!

Just… WOW!

I listened to approximately 45 audiobooks in 2021 (four per month) and if I’d finished this one in time, it would definitely have been included in my favorites list for the year—audiobook or print.

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane ChamberlainTold from two POVs, in 2018, Morgan Christopher and 1940 Anna Dale. Morgan is sprung from the North Carolina Correctional Facility on a conditional release—the promise to restore a mural that was to have been installed in the Edenton Post Office in 1940. Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey won a national contest out from under the town artist—considered the shoo-in. From New Jersey! An abomination! What did she know about the south or the town that the mural was to represent? The south is an alien world to Anna and Edenton not exactly thrilled to welcome a northerner.

Morgan’s benefactor, however, is a famous artist, Jesse Jameson, who dedicated himself to young artists with a history. Morgan knew his work and seriously loved it. She dabbled—loved painting—but restoring a mural was something she knew NOTHING about.

Jesse was within months of completing and opening an art gallery at the time of his passing and Morgan’s time frame was two months but when she initially saw the mural, very old, flaking, dusty; she thought impossible.

Completing the mural will keep her out of prison AND she’ll be paid for her work. It’s seriously important. She finds an ally in the project manager and though he’s not an artist can provide some basic start-up instruction in art restoration.

We begin to get filtered narration by Anna, an enormously engaging and sympathetic character, young and naïve, definitely out of her element but very serious about providing the town with the best representation of the area she can. Then as the mural is gradually restored, painstakingly inch by inch, Morgan begins to uncover some disturbing and bizarre inclusions into an otherwise masterful mural. What happened to Anna? Did she go mad?

Anna’s story is mesmerizing, one you can’t tear yourself away from. I loved her philosophy, her openness, and the two boys she took in to help with the work on the mural; especially Jesse. He’s an enigma, a brilliant natural artist, obviously enormously talented. Coming from a “colored” family, however, holds no hope of an artistic career. His family needs his help on the farm and only his aunt encourages and supports his work with Anna. It’s 1940; in the south. And Anna is a white northerner.

What happens next is shocking. A quick intake of breath, a sharp refusal that this is how Anna’s story will end. What happens to Jesse? The mural?

Undeniably the greatest hold is Anna’s story. But Morgan keeps digging and now her heart and soul are in uncovering Anna’s story along with restoration of the mural.

The characters are extremely well developed, the heart goes out to Anna and Jesse, truly the force in this amazing narrative. Storytelling at its finest! From heart-thudding moments to anger, revulsion, and back again to tearful hope. Totally invested in Anna, Jesse, and to a lesser extent Morgan.

Themes of poverty, racism, violence, and rape. Easy to switch back and forth between the POVs, each advancing the tension, the questions swirling maddingly around the mind. How can this be resolved? Or CAN it?

And the conclusion: beautiful.

I read five final nominees in the Goodreads Choice Awards for 2020 and this was not even listed. If I have a problem with a book, I check to see if or why I’m off base in my assessment, pursuing both low and high reviews. It looks as if I’m in agreement with most reviews this time. So, what happened?

This is a truly immersive read from beginning to amazing end. Strong, individual and believable characters. The mural, during the restoration process, took shape and color in my mind becoming both awesomely jaw-dropping and then bewildering, confusing.

Brilliant! Did you read or listen to the audiobook? What was your reaction?

Book Details:

Genre: Family Life Fiction, Psychological Thrillers, Historical Thrillers
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B07T8C3RT3
Listening Length: 13 hrs 19 mins
Narrator: Susan Bennett
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Big Lies in a Small Town [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

Diane Chamberlain - authorThe Author: Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and (London) Sunday Times best-selling author of 27 novels. The daughter of a school principal who supplied her with a new book almost daily, Diane quickly learned the emotional power of story. Although she wrote many small “books” as a child, she didn’t seriously turn to writing fiction until her early thirties when she was waiting for a delayed doctor’s appointment with nothing more than a pad, a pen, and an idea. She was instantly hooked.

Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and lived for many years in both San Diego and northern Virginia. She received her master’s degree in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, she was a hospital social worker in both San Diego and Washington, D.C, and a psychotherapist in private practice in Alexandria, Virginia, working primarily with adolescents.

More than two decades ago, Diane was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which changed the way she works: She wrote two novels using voice recognition software before new medication allowed her to get back to typing. She feels fortunate that her arthritis is not more severe and that she’s able to enjoy everyday activities as well as keep up with a busy travel schedule.

Diane lives in North Carolina with her significant other, photographer John Pagliuca, and their odd but lovable Shetland Sheepdog, Cole.

Please visit Diane’s website at http://www.dianechamberlain.com for her event schedule and for more information on her newest novel, Big Lies in a Small Town, as well as a complete list of her books.

Susan Bennett- narratorThe Narrator:  [NOTE: I think this is the correct Susan Bennett. If it is not, please let me know and I’ll correct immediately.] Susan Alice Bennett is an American voice actress and a former backup singer for Roy Orbison and Burt Bacharach. She is best known as the female American voice of Apple’s Siri personal assistant, since the service was introduced on the iPhone 4S on October 4, 2011. Wikipedia

©2021 V Williams

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