Ghosts of the Past: The Search for a Lost WWII Art Collection Worth Killing for by Mark Downer – A #BookReview – #crimeaction

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Ghosts of the Past by Mark DownerIn the spring of 1945, on the eve of the Allied victory in war-torn Europe, an unmarked German transport plane crash lands deep in the rugged Swiss Alps, and with it is buried one of the greatest single collections of World War II stolen artwork never recovered. Lying undisturbed in its rocky tomb for over half a century, a family member’s deathbed disclosure and war memorabilia hold the key to the existence and dormant location of this incredible treasure. Subsequently, one man’s quest to locate the crash site is unwittingly exposed, and the race to recover the find of a lifetime becomes a fast-paced, action-packed adventure that weaves together an eclectic cast of characters in an international web of intrigue, murder, mystery, and surprise.

American advertising executive Matt Ferguson, determined to track down his great uncle’s mysterious legacy, enlists the help of a beautiful art expert, Courtney Lewis. They immediately become embroiled in a local murder investigation that draws them together to save not only a piece of history but ultimately their lives. Pursuing them is a cold-blooded killer and his henchmen, representing the past and present generations of the German Nazi party, and also gangsters dispatched by a multi-millionaire South American boss, whose passion is acquiring art by any means necessary. As Ferguson and Lewis struggle and maneuver to stay one step ahead of their pursuers, their relationship swells through ups and downs of trust, mistrust, mutual attraction, deception, and, finally, shared mission.

The dogged persistence of a city homicide detective determined to solve a triple murder, and his ability to knit together an international police effort as the scope of his investigation explodes, are the last component affecting the thrill of the chaotic chase and the excitement of the climax.

His Review:

As World War II comes to a close, two flyers from Germany are engaged to make a special flight to Switzerland by none other than Hermann Goering! This starts a saga of immense value and hair-raising discovery. Mark Downer creates a narrative with the efficiency of a master fly fisherman. Information from a dying uncle sets Matt Ferguson on the quest of a lifetime.

Ghosts of the Past by Mark DownerAn immense treasure of purloined art is hidden away in the mountains of Switzerland. Not by design but by a fortuitous accident as the treasure is being flown to Switzerland by two young shanghaied German Luftwaffe pilots. The transportation of art objects is at the personal bequest of Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering himself. A chance meetup with a US fighter pilot results in a crash landing of the German plane prior to arriving at the airport in Switzerland. The plane and its’ crew remain in hiding sitting out the rest of the second world war.

The quest begins at the dying bed of Max Hignite, the German pilot in question. His nephew, Matt Ferguson, is given a map drawn on the back of the cargo manifest by Max. Two pieces of art are in Max’s safe and are authenticated by assistant curator Courtney Lewis and her contacts at the Speed Art Museum. The two small paintings are valued and insured at $4,000,000. Courtney and Matt set out to find the treasure and have it distributed to the rightful family owners. The problem is that the curators who helped verify the authenticity of the paintings are interested in the rest of the shipment and as Matt and Courtney begin the quest, they start an international conspiracy to obtain the balance of the valuable cargo.

Ghosts of the Past by Mark Downer
(See NB below)

Matt and Courtney are not well versed in clandestine operations. They are followed by some very rich and powerful individuals who want to control the artifacts. They are followed discretely by operatives whose sole purpose is to gain ultimate control of the entire cargo. Keeping the two of them alive is not really a concern to the criminal element wanting to own the cargo.

Mark Downer has put together a quick engaging read with a number of twists and turns that are very entertaining. The book took center stage in my daily activities until I finished it. You will find the story well-plotted and paced although at times predictable. I highly recommend it for a quick and satisfying read! 5 stars – CE Williams

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from publisher through NetGalley. These are my honest opinions. 

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Action Fiction, Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction, Crime Action & Adventure
Publisher: Old Stone Press (2nd edition)
Print Length: 287 pages
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Ghosts of the Past [Amazon] (Second Edition)
Also find the book at this location (See NB below):
Barnes and Noble (First Edition)
 

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The Author: (Barnes & Noble) Mark Downer was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. After graduating from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Journalism, he has spent the last 30 years in executive level marketing, sales and management. He currently owns and operates a transportation and logistics company in Louisville, where he resides with his wife and three children. Ghosts of the Past is first novel.

NB: This novel was originally published in 2014 under the same name.

Final Second: A completely unputdownable action thriller (A Grant Fletcher Thriller Book 2) by John Ryder – a #BookReview Suspense Action Fiction

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Sometimes it takes a stranger to find a killer…

Final Second by John RyderIn a small farming town in rural Wisconsin—where generations of families have lived in peace for decades—no one expects trouble to come calling.

But then a farmer’s beautiful young wife is found brutally murdered, with a chilling calling card that suggests she’s just the first victim of a serial killer. And the FBI elect not to send one of their own. Instead they send a stranger to town—former Royal Marine turned mercenary, Grant Fletcher. And they’re giving him no choice. Find the killer. Because we know what you’ve done.

With the threat of the executioner’s chair hanging over him, Fletcher finds himself in an impossible situation—and a race against time. Catch a murderer whose killings are escalating with every day that passes. Or face certain death…

His Review:

Action packed suspense thriller centered around remote dairy ranches. working independently, Grant Fletcher is called in to help identify the killer of a FBI agents’ childhood friend. The agent is involved in a major case and cannot be directly involved at the onset. The killer is flaunting his kills by numbering each one. Her friend is #1.

Final Second by John RyderGrant is on a short leash from the police on a possible murder charge himself. A mysterious person far above the FBI agents’ paygrade is pulling the strings. The local police department is poorly staffed and it is doubtful  they will be able to find the killer. Grant has the specter of a trial over his head and going to prison, so he is given little support from the FBI while dodging the local police department.

The author, John Ryder, skillfully builds suspense while throwing in a few red herrings to salt the suspense. Aggravatingly, the local police department keeps getting in the well. An inkling of the reason for the murders begins to become apparent but the suspense builds after each new murder. Can Grant Fletcher find the killer before he is charged and arrested in his separate case? By number five, Grant’s time is running out and is looking at a deadline of next Monday.

The killings are centered in a particular area. His friend, Special Agent Zoey Quadrado, joins him near the end of the book as he narrows in on the killer. The killer has become brazen and does not care about the age of his targets, just the outcome. Hunting this killer becomes extremely dangerous as both Grant and Zoey become targets. CE Williams

The tale is fast moving and readers will need to set aside time to complete the book. It can cause insomnia! 5 stars-CE Williams

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense Action Fiction, Crime Action Fiction, Crime Action & Adventure
Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN : B08B8ZRJ92

Print Length: 341 pages
Publication Date: October 5, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Final Second [Amazon]

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©2020 C E Williams – V Williams V Williams

The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi Jr. – a #BookReview

The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi Jr.

Five of Five Stars Five stars

Title: The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi Jr.

Genre: Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, US Historical Fiction, Crime Action Fiction

Publisher: Roundfire Books

  • ISBN-10:1780996705
  • ISBN-13:978-1780996707
  • ASIN: B00CPL2P46

 Print Length: 670 pages

Publication Date: (Reprint edition) May 31, 2013

Source: Author request

Title Link: The Plain of Jars

Book Blurb:

What would you do if you found that the bones and ashes you were given by the Air Force were not the remains of your loved one? Dorothy Kozeny, a 64-year-old widow from a small town in Ohio, after getting no answers from the relevant authorities, decides the only thing to do is to go to Laos herself to search for the truth concerning her son’s fate. In 1990, accompanied by a trusted Laotian called Kampeng, Dorothy travels deep into the mountains of rural Laos, attempting to trace her son’s path through inhospitable terrain, an unforgettable trek that provides her with a rewarding, often humorous, and at times frustrating, cross-cultural experience. All clues lead her to a mysterious figure, an alleged CIA operative left over from the war, living in a remote and hostile area deep in the jungle. The second part of the book traces the life of this enigmatic character hiding in Laos, the two main characters linked through Dorothy’s son.

The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi JrMy Review:

This is an extremely gripping saga about a young lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, well written, and difficult to put down. Those of us who were drafted during that time can relate to this tale. Why Vietnam? The question was on everyone’s mind at the time of the war and still mystifies me today. What did our country want in Vietnam that over 57,000 U.S. military died and hundreds of thousands were maimed and injured for life?

Hidden in the records of the military are many soldiers who could not return to this country for various infractions against the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  Dropping bombs from 35,000 feet makes the carnage and tedium of war seem far removed from the pilot, but when you are on the ground, the war and the effect of the bombing are all too real.

War was not declared against the Hmong, Laotians, Cambodians or others swept up in the melee. Lt. Andrew Kozeny was shot down in a bombing run in an F105. He experienced first-hand the devastation inflicted on the poor peasants trying to wrestle a living from the humid valleys. A young girl died in his arms, having no idea why the bombs were being dropped on their rural area nor why they were dying. Getting back to his unit he was re-assigned to fly the newer F111. This machine could drop many more bombs and rain destruction where ever it flew, but his memory of the young death was an ever-present confliction in the cockpit.

Lt. Kozeny could not let this vehicle of destruction kill more innocents. He scuttled the jet and wound up hiding in the jungle and evading capture. The Vietnamese would like to capture him but a C.I.A. death squad was sent to eliminate the young airman and his knowledge. This story is all too real and disappointing.

The report of his death was greatly exaggerated and some ashes were delivered home as “his remains.”  However, his mother discovers the ashes are not his and decides to fly to Southeast Asia to find out what happened to her son. This story is the result of that search. The U.S. government and C.I.A. are put into a very different light by this book. One can only be exasperated by the effect of a war none of our generation wanted or embraced. The pain caused thousands to pound home the mantra that “freedom isn’t free.”

Read this book and experience the frustration that affected an entire generation, the mood of the people and plan some time to complete the book because you will not want to put it down. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

I received this digital download from the author in exchange for an unbiased opinion and in my opinion would garner 6 stars if that were available. Wholly recommended to anyone who enjoys intrigue, secrets, conspiracy, action, military history, emotional tension and turmoil, and redemption. Have I left anything out? C.E. Williams

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N. Lombardi Jr - authorThe Author: N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone, was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

©2019 C.E.Williams