Back Bay Blues (An Andy Roark Mystery Book 2) by Peter Holt – a #BookReview – Hard-Boiled Mystery

Happy Publishing Day!

‘“…we gotta di di mau. Come on, bud, we gotta go.”… He was right. We had places to go. Things to do. Our war wasn’t over yet.’

 Book Blurb:

Theft, greed, and corruption collide in Peter Colt’s hard-edged new mystery featuring Vietnam veteran turned Boston P.I. Andy Roark.
 
Back Bay Blues by Peter Colt1985, Boston. In Vietnam, Andy Roark witnessed death and horrifying destruction. But for the soldiers who made it back alive, there are other casualties of war—the loss of tenderness, trust, and connection. Still feeling adrift and unsettled, Andy has struck up a welcome friendship with Nguyen, a Vietnamese restaurant owner. Sipping beer and trading memories after the restaurant shutters, Andy gradually learns of the extraordinary lengths Nguyen took to flee Saigon shortly after its fall.

Andy’s latest case, too, has ties to Vietnam. His new client, a beautiful and enigmatic young Vietnamese woman, hires him to investigate her uncle’s murder. Andy discovers a connection to a group of refugees determined to overthrow the communist government. Led by the sinister Colonel Tran, the Committee is extorting local business owners to raise funds. The search for more answers takes Andy from Boston to Washington D.C. to San Francisco, and deep into a web of political and personal betrayal.

Somewhere near the heart of this mystery is a connection to Nguyen’s daring escape from Saigon. Decades may have passed, but sometimes the price of freedom twists allies into enemies, loyalties into betrayals, and truth into a web of lies . . .

My Review:

Yes, of course this premise would appeal to me and the CE (who has not yet read it), as we were married when the CE joined the Navy. So while he did not set foot on the soil of Viet Nam certainly was embroiled in a support effort. (I remember the Bob Hope tour that came to Taiwan when we were there.) Anyway…

Back Bay Blues by Peter ColtThe protagonist, Andy Roark is a Vietnam veteran of the Special Forces, Recon. He was perfect in his role and good at what he did. He was a survivor. The problem was, he saw a lot of his buddies die and ended with survivor’s guilt as well as a good bit of PTSD.

Arriving back home, no real family to speak of, he worked a short time in the Boston PD and decided it was worse than the Army. So he became a private investigator and no one to tell him what to do. It’s been sufficient for him until he is hired by a young Vietnamese American woman to find out who killed her uncle.

His first look into the matter discovers there was a journalist in Boston killed within two days of her uncle. There is a locally strong Vietnamese community apparently strongly divided politically and problems have festered between the two factions.

The deeper he gets into the investigation, the more serious attempt on his life, but at this point, the pit bull in him comes out and he will NOT drop it until he knows the whole story. The corruption appears to spread fingers beyond the community.

It is a complex and well-plotted narrative, fast-paced. I enjoyed the author’s sense of humor, which intermittently pulled at the seriousness of the storyline. There was a lot of knowledge and expertise expressed, explanation of materiels. Remember, this is back in 1985—ten years after the fall of Saigon. Feelings of the unpopular conflict raw. There was no “thank you for your service” back then.

Amazingly enough, there are little pops of dishes of which I almost expected the recipes to be found at the end of the book.

Andy is damaged, scarred, aware of his aloneness. Not lonely. Alone. He is a sympathic character, an underdog to root for. The author has a unique writing style that I appreciated and kept me engaged. The conclusion was very satisfying.

My first novel with this author and this series, but I found no problem jumping right into Book 2 (and will be looking forward to Book 3, should there be one). This is releasing today. Looking for something different? Entertaining, unique? Totally recommended, buy from your favorite outlet; links noted below.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Hard-Boiled Mystery, Hard-Boiled Mysteries, Cozy Culinary Mystery
Publisher: Kensington

  • ASIN : B082WS2YXC
  • Print Length: 208 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! September 29. 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

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

Peter Colt - author
Peter Colt – author

The Author: I am currently a police officer in a small New England city where I have worked since 2007. I spent over twenty years in the Army reserve and was deployed to Kosovo in 2000, where I was attached to the Russian Army. I deployed to Iraq in 2003 and again in 2008. I was fortunate to get to know many Vietnam vets and U.S. Army Special forces soldiers. I lived on Nantucket Island from 1973‑1986. He’s currently working on the next Andy Roark mystery.

I write because I enjoy it. I hope to tell the types of stories that I like to read but inform them with my experiences. I enjoy interacting with readers who get something from the book or the characters. Or if some aspect of the books resonate with the readers. That is the cool part of this whole thing.

I was probably one of the few people in the U.S. Army to ride on top of a Russian Army Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), in this case a BTR-80, with Russian soldiers, going jointly to a riot. Good times!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Past Deeds (Brandon Fisher FBI series Book 8) by Carolyn Arnold – a #BookReview

Book Blurb:

Past Deeds by Carolyn ArnoldThe sun was just coming up, and the sniper’s hands were sweaty as she looked through the rifle’s scope to the streets eight stories below and point eight miles away. In mere minutes, the target would be dead.

A prosecuting attorney is murdered in a sniping that takes place in Arlington, Virginia, less than fifteen minutes from Washington. FBI Agent Brandon Fisher and his team with the Behavioral Analysis Unit are called in to investigate the threat level and to determine if the lawyer was targeted. The FBI hadn’t anticipated previous victims stretching from coast to coast.

The team splits up across the country, but more than jet lag is getting to Brandon. As their profile on the shooter takes shape, their one theory on motive strikes too close to home and has him battling with regret over a past decision. He comes to discover some choices not only haunt us but can have long- and far-reaching repercussions we couldn’t even begin to imagine. Will Brandon be able to set aside his personal issues for long enough to stop a serial killing spree before there’s another victim?

Past Deeds is a gripping psychological crime thriller that will have you flipping the pages as you try to put the clues together faster than the FBI. To stand a chance, you’ll need to unravel the psyche of a killer. This mystery will also make you think and reflect—and you just might wonder if any past decisions you’ve made are stalking you, ready to strike.

My Review:

Special Agent Brandon Fisher and new member Kelly Marsh up from the Miami PD, and Paige Dawson, join Special Agent in Charge Jack Harper of the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) to investigation the sniper shooting of a prominent prosecutor. There are several POVs; Fisher is first person. Brandon is paired with Paige, which brings back painful memories of their short-lived liaison while Brandon was still married. Jack pairs with Kelly and makes sure he’s constantly on her for speaking up or volunteering any opinions. He’s over-the-top rude, cryptic, and short on directions for a newbie, preferring instead just to throw her in the water to see if she can swim with the sharks.

Past Deeds by Carolyn ArnoldThe case proceeds with tiny new crumbs leading to a possible lead and the agents split after they bring in Nadia, the technie, who discovers there were three other identical deaths spread over the US. What follows is SOP for police procedural, interviews, and making connections.

Brandon Fisher and Paige seem to be reverting to he-said/she said to settle the feelings between each other. Jack is just nasty. Kelly fills the insecure newbie role, second-guessing each of her actions and eventually being reticent to promote any new scenario.

My problem was the shifting of POVs, at times leaving me wondering who was speaking, or even what gender the person was. They didn’t feel like a “unit,” more a disjointed group muddling through personal dilemmas. Seems like they would put forth a theory and then rediscover the same possible theory several pages later.

The antagonist is ex-military, obviously suffering PTSD, but loaded with an additional “trigger” mechanism forcing the mission. The conclusion was contrived and a grievous error given the information they had on the unsub. (In the military, they would call it a “CF.)

I did enjoy a couple quotes, “Not his monkeys, not his circus…” and “‘Fortuna favet fortibus!’ Fortune favors the strong.”

My second experience with this author, the first with this series. While there was an interesting storyline, I couldn’t get into the characters and perhaps I’m just not the right person for this author. There are, however, many others who enjoy the writing style–you might be one.

Book Details:

Genre: Serial Killers, Hard-Boiled Mysteries
Publisher: Hibbert and Stiles Publishing Inc

  • ISBN-10:1988353971
  • ISBN-13:978-1988353975
  • ASIN: B07YNWNYT9

Print Length: 378 pages
Publication Date: Feb 18, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Past Deeds (Amazon link) 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three point Five of Five Stars 3.5-stars

Carolyn Arnold - authorThe Author: CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series–Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures–and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Solomon vs Lord by Paul Levine – a #BookReview

Solomon vs Lord by Paul LevineTitle: Solomon vs Lord (Solomon vs Lord Legal Thrillers Book 1) by Paul Levine

Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Legal Thriller, Literature & Fiction, Humor & Satire, General Humor

Publisher: Nittany Valley Productions, Inc.

Publication Date: March 6, 2014

578 pages

ASIN:B007RTS9VE

Source: BookBub

Title and Cover: Solomon vs Lord – Legal thriller–tilt!

Book Blurb:

“LEGAL THRILLERS SHOULDN’T BE THIS MUCH FUN!”

Victoria Lord follows all the rules…
Steve Solomon makes up his own…
Defending a murder trial, they’ll either end up in ruin, in jail…or in bed.

Steve Solomon is the sharpest lawyer to barely graduate from law school. Victoria Lord toils for an ambitious D.A., before Solomon gets her fired. Thrown together, they defend a sexy young widow charged with killing her kinky husband in Miami’s steamiest trial of the century.

“Hiaasen meets Grisham in the court of last retort. A sexy, wacky, wonderful thriller with humor and heart.” – Harlan Coben

***My associate reviewer has been fully engaged in reading the free offerings from BookBub, many of which have been outstandingly delightful, resulting in laugh out loud passages and recitations to me. As this one seemed exceptional, I asked that he provide a review even though the book published in 2014 could constitute a proper Throwback Thursday offering. (The author released Bum Deal, the 13th and final book in the Jake Lassiter series, in June. ) 

The C.E.’s Review:

Levine’s writing is comical and engaging from the beginning.

Stephan Solomon is a rogue lawyer working against a rookie prosecutor. The abrasive repartee between Steph and Victoria Lord is immediately humorous and engaging and quickly builds into an excellent story. Solomon has a number of rules he has created for his practice. Rule #1 When the law doesn’t work, work the law.

Victoria was at the top of her class in law school and prepares well and documents everything. His lackadaisical style aggravates her immensely when she is trying to do everything by the book while Solomon as the defense lawyer is nearly impossible. They wind up in jail for getting into a scuffle in court which results in a contempt charge. Steph wants to “tutor” her in the finer elements of jurisprudence. His motto is, “A lawyer who’s afraid of jail is like a surgeon who is afraid of blood.”

In the first offering of the series, these two find themselves on opposing tables in court. She is a rookie state’s attorney and as opposites attract while offering friction, he’s smitten and thinking she’d be a great partner (in more ways than one).  Lord has other ideas (and guys) and isn’t ready to give up either. It’s not long before a trophy wife ends up in trouble with Lord pushing to take her case and Solomon rushing to help.

The banter and sexual tension between the two is not a new stratagem and the dialogue often goes from funny to silly, but the well-plotted story grabs and holds interest and doesn’t flag as it develops a sub-plot. Solomon is well developed, showing a multi-dimensional personality as he cares for his nephew. Victoria Lord is well educated but still very naive.

C.E. Williams - Associate ReviewerThe characters have been compared to Hepburn and Tracy and the story is fun and fast-paced; hard to put down. I highly recommend it.

Free eBook provided to me by BookBub. C. E. Williams

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars of Five Rating

Paul Levine - authorThe Author:

(Bio truncated from Amazon) Eleven of [Paul] Levine‘s thrillers have hit Number One bestseller status on Amazon in their genres, and in June 2015, he was the Number One bestselling author on Amazon Kindle.

BUM RAP was a Number One bestseller out of six million books in the Amazon Kindle Store. The setup: Lassiter has had it with sleazy clients, shifty prosecutors, and a legal system out of whack. He’s about to hang up his shingle when Victoria Lord calls. Solomon has been arrested for murder. What’s worse: the only person who can clear him has disappeared. Now it’s up to Lassiter and Lord to track down the witness–a stunning Bar girl–before she’s roped in by the feds…or eliminated by the Russian mob.

Levine’s first novel, TO SPEAK FOR THE DEAD, introduced the world to Jake Lassiter, an NFL linebacker turned hard-nosed lawyer. Lassiter has been described by Booklist as “one of the most entertaining series characters in contemporary crime fiction.”

Levine’s other series features squabbling lawyers – and lovers – Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord, who duel in and out of court. The Chicago Sun-Times praised “Solomon vs. Lord” as “remarkably fresh and original with characters you can’t help loving and sparkling dialogue that echoes the Hepburn-Tracy screwball comedies. A hilarious, touching and entertaining twist on the legal thriller.”

Levine has won the John D. MacDonald fiction award and has been nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Macavity, the International Thriller Writers Award, the Shamus Award, and the James Thurber Humor Prize. A graduate of Penn State and the University of Miami School of Law, he was a trial lawyer before becoming a full-time novelist. He divides his time between Santa Barbara, CA and Miami.

Here is a list of Levine’s novels that have hit Number One bestseller status on Amazon in their genres:

LEGAL THRILLERS: “To Speak for the Dead,” “Solomon vs. Lord,” “Fool Me Twice,” “Illegal,” and “Bum Rap.”

MYSTERIES: State vs. Lassiter, The Deep Blue Alibi, Kill All the Lawyers and Mortal Sin.

SERIAL KILLERS and INTERNATIONAL CRIME: Night Vision.

HARD-BOILED MYSTERIES: Mortal Sin.

ORGANIZED CRIME THRILLERS and SPORTS FICTION: Paydirt.

The “Solomon vs. Lord” series:

Solomon vs. Lord
The Deep Blue Alibi
Kill All the Lawyers
Habeas Porpoise (previously titled Trial & Error)

OTHER ENDEAVORS: Paul wrote 21 episodes of the TV series “JAG” and co-created the Supreme Court drama “First Monday,” both on CBS.

More info at http://www.paul-levine.com
Follow Paul @Jake_Lassiter
Visit Paul’s updated Facebook Author Page for the latest news: https://www.facebook.com/PaulLevine

(From Goodreads) NEW and available in print, e-book and audio editions: Paul Levine’s latest legal thriller, BUM DEAL, debuted June 2018.

©2018