The Final Days of Abbot Montrose: As Asbjorn Krag Mystery by Sven Elvestad aka Stein Riverton – #BookReview – #historicalthrillers

Before there was Nordic Noir, there was Sven Elvestad.

Book Blurb:

The Final Days of Abbott Montrose by Sven ElvestadIt is an evening in early May when the quiet of Montrose Abbey is shattered by the sounds of shouting and broken glass. When the police arrive, they find the abbey library ransacked and bloodstained. Broken furniture and a burning carpet bear witness to a violent struggle. And the abbot himself, the scholarly Abbot Montrose, is missing. Only a torn fragment of his cassock remains, caught in the wrought-iron fence surrounding the abbey.

The police, the press, and citizens of this northern city fear the worst. What could have befallen the missing abbot? Has he been murdered? Abducted?

As world-renowned Detective Asbjørn Krag and his partner, Detective Sirius Keller, begin to unravel the tangled knot of clues left behind, they find themselves in the city’s infamous Krydder District, “where the dark doorways are as close together as rat holes in an old warehouse.” The more answers they find, the more questions seem to pop up.

This well-constructed, evocative and witty mystery by Sven Elvestead, also known as Stein Riverton (for whom the Norwegian Riverton Prize was named), will keep you guessing until the very last page. 

His Review:

Abbott Montrose is missing and there is blood in his residence. Officers 12 and 314 are first on the scene and suspect foul play. They had arrived at the residence very quickly after the whistled alert and saw someone running from the home. As they entered the living room they encountered many pieces of overturned or broken household furnishings and blood droplets on the floor. Money and other valuables are missing

The Final Days of Abbot Montrose by Sven elvestadAsbjorn Krag and Detective Keller are assigned to the case. Scraps of paper left that were clues to the possible perpetrator. One read of the payment of 30 kroner to a gardener for 6 days work, but the detectives immediately felt the gardener was not involved in the crime. A piece of the abbot’s vestment was found on the cast iron fence around his property and hinted to an apparent abduction.

The clues left at the crime scene led the two detectives to believe the thugs might be local. The investigation turned up more unsolved deaths and created various forks in the trail of investigation.

Confounding the investigation are clues that continue to preclude that the Abbot has indeed met his demise as he would have contacted his Bishop and others of his well being and whereabouts. A letter is found in the Abbots’ handwriting that affirms he is okay, but the letter is so crumpled and maltreated that the detectives are certain that he would not have treated a missive in this manner. Surely the Abbot wrote the letter under duress!

The detectives continue to suspect that the Abbot has met with foul play. Another unexplained death happens in the city and the resultant thinking is that indeed the Abbot has been injured or killed.

The detectives involved seem to have their case being solved on the backs of other murder victims. I began to question the ability of the two detectives to solve the crime or for that matter solve any crime! This is a slow burn Nordic Noir and the pace and apparent ineptitude of the detectives made it difficult to stay engaged. 3.5 stars – C.E. Williams

We received a complimentary review copy of this book through a request by the publisher that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Rosepoint Publishing: Three point Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Thrillers, International Mystery & Crime
Publisher: Kazabo Publishing
ASIN: B07GTGWMXK
Print Length: 214 pages
Publication Date: August 24, 2018
Source: Publisher
Title Link: The Final Days of Abbot Montrose [Amazon]
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Sven Elvestad - authorThe Author: Sven Elvestad, aka Stein Riverton, was born in Fredrikshald, Norway, in 1884 and is the author of over 90 books. Jo Nesbø calls him “A great writer and the father of the Norwegian crime novel” and, even today, the Riverton Prize is awarded annually to the best Norwegian crime story. In addition to writing acclaimed mysteries, Sven Elvestad was one of the most famous Scandinavian journalists of the early 20th century. Well known for his exploits, he once spent an entire day locked in a lion’s cage and was the first foreign journalist to interview Hitler. –This text refers to the paperback edition.

[Goodreads] Sven Elvestad (1884 – 1934) was a Norwegian journalist and author. He is best known for his detective stories, which were published under the pen name Stein Riverton.

©2021 – CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Vortex: An FBI Thriller by Catherine Coulter (Book 25) – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

#1 Best Seller in Psychic Suspense

Book Blurb:

#1 New York Times bestselling Catherine Coulter returns with a brilliant new novel in her FBI thriller series, in which agents Sherlock and Savich find themselves dealing with very powerful figures from the past who could wreak havoc in the present.

Vortex by Catherine CoulterSeven years ago, Mia Briscoe was at a college frat rave with her best friend, Serena, when a fire broke out. Everyone was accounted for except Serena, who was never seen nor heard from again. Now an investigative journalist covering the political scene in New York City, Mia discovers old photos taken the night of Serena’s disappearance and begins to uncover a sinister string of events going all the way back to that disastrous party. Working with Sherlock, the secrets begin to unravel. But some very powerful—and very dangerous—people will do anything to keep them from learning the truth.

CIA Operative Olivia Hildebrandt is a team leader on a mission in Iran to exfiltrate a betrayed undercover operative. She’s nearly killed by an exploding grenade and saved by a team member. But by the time Olivia is released from Walter Reed Hospital, that team member and a critical flash drive he was carrying have disappeared. When Olivia is attacked on her first night home, Savich suspects that the strike is a direct result of the compromised mission and the missing team member and flash drive. But what intelligence was at stake and who betrayed them?

His Review:

A young gamer is killed by an accidental punch in the face by Snake, a master gamer. They had been having a great time but things got out of hand. Snake claims it was an accident and her death was not intentional. Wrapped in an old tarp she is being forever lost to her family and friends.

Vortex by Catherine CoulterMia and her friend Serena are on their way to a rave. Mia is miffed at Serena because she seems to want to forego the party. Mia is angry because the rules for men and women are entirely unfair. How did things get so messed up?

Fraternity brothers were offering a drink called a “Crazy Mary,” guaranteed to make even the most virginal woman put out. Serena begins to act strangely and then winds up missing. How could this be? She did not even want to come to this party.

Seven years later Mia still wonders what could have happened to Serena. She currently has a position as investigative reporter for Guardian Magazine. Her current assignment is a political candidate.

Alexander Talbot Harrington is a very rich society climber who does as he wishes with women. He is tall and handsome and has no problem having opportunities. He is running for the mayor of New York City. Most of the population feels he is a shoo-in for the job. His “wing man” is his social equal but lacking in self-confidence. He is a possible candidate for weakest link in the crime and investigation.

Ms. Coulter is a master story teller with multiple plots happening simultaneously. The result is a continuously intriguing tale which is difficult to put down. With three police agencies working to solve this and other crimes, the criminals are quickly in their cross-hairs. Alex and his wing-man feel they are smarter than anyone and will not be caught. The writer puts them into their proper place.

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: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Psychic Thrillers, Psychic Suspense, Historical Thrillers
Publisher: William Morrow
ASIN: B08N18WD7Q
Print Length: 400 pages
Publication Date: August 10, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Vortex [Amazon] 
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Catherine Couler - authorThe Author: Catherine Coulter is the New York Times bestselling author of 87 books. Her numerous historical romances established her as an icon in the genre and a must-read for readers world wide. Coulter’s readership has also grown exponentially with her hugely popular “unputdownable” FBI thriller series, starring the husband and wife team FBI agents Savich and Sherlock. Her FBI thrillers have expanded to include a new international thriller series — A Brit in the FBI — co-written with popular thriller writer JT Ellison. This six-book series has also captured a dedicated readership with high-stakes, fast-paced international cases involving new characters Nicholas and Mike. Coulter has also added a new novella series, starring Grayson Sherbrooke (from the Sherbrooke historical romance series), titled The Grayson Sherbrooke Otherworldly Adventures. Currently there are four novellas — the 5th installment will be released later this summer. (The Grayson books are available only in ebook.)

Upcoming new release! The 25th book in her FBI thriller series, VORTEX, will be released on August 10th, 2021. Coulter lives in northern California with her thriller cat Eli and her thriller husband. She enjoys hearing from readers and posts on her Facebook page daily. Please visit her at her website http://www.catherinecoulter.com for more information.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

A Tip for the Hangman: a Novel by Allison Epstein – A #BookReview – Assassination Thrillers

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars 

Book Blurb:

Christopher Marlowe, a brilliant aspiring playwright, is pulled into the duplicitous world of international espionage on behalf of Queen Elizabeth I. A many-layered historical thriller combining state secrets, intrigue, and romance.

A Trip for the Hangman by Allison EpsteinEngland, 1585. In Kit Marlowe’s last year at Cambridge, he receives an unexpected visitor: Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, who has come with an unorthodox career opportunity. Her Majesty’s spies are in need of new recruits, and Kit’s flexible moral compass has drawn their attention. Kit, a scholarship student without money or prospects, accepts the offer, and after his training the game is on. Kit is dispatched to the chilly manor where Mary, Queen of Scots is under house arrest, to act as a servant in her household and keep his ear to the ground for a Catholic plot to put Mary on the throne.

While observing Mary, Kit learns more than he bargained for. The ripple effects of his service to the Crown are far-reaching and leave Kit a changed man. But there are benefits as well. The salary he earns through his spywork allows him to mount his first play, and over the following years, he becomes the toast of London’s raucous theater scene. But when Kit finds himself reluctantly drawn back into the uncertain world of espionage, conspiracy, and high treason, he realizes everything he’s worked so hard to attain–including the trust of the man he loves–could vanish before his very eyes.

Pairing modern language with period detail, Allison Epstein brings Elizabeth’s privy council, Marlowe’s lovable theater troupe, and the squalor of sixteenth-century London to vivid, teeming life as Kit wends his way behind the scenes of some of Tudor history’s most memorable moments. At the center of the action is Kit himself–an irrepressible, irreverent force of nature. Thrillingly written, full of poetry and danger, A Tip for the Hangman brings an unforgettable protagonist to new life, and makes a centuries-old story feel utterly contemporary.

His Review:

Christopher (Kit) Marlowe lived in a time of great intrigue and strife. The throne of England was contested by Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth the First. These cousins both had genealogical claims to the throne. A cobblers’ son attending Cambridge irritated those of means. Intelligence should have not have been the sole criterion for admittance to this austere college and certainly not with a scholarship to afford the tuition.

A Tip for the Hangman by Allison EpsteinKit had another problem, a lack of total subservience to the aristocracy. His humble beginnings were always a thorn of contention and a spear of disdain. As Kit is finishing his Masters’ he is approached by one of the heads of Queen Elizabeth’s spy service. His task was to unravel an intricate series of messages between Mary Queen of Scots and her supporters. Kit had shown himself very adept at breaking foreign syphers.

Christopher Marlowe is also a very prolific playwright. He is thrust into the under-belly of London society to uncover plots against the Queen. Tangled webs of deceit and subterfuge complicate his life and endanger him wherever he goes. Forces beyond his control continue to press him to decipher and expose the potential usurper to the throne. Getting into the good graces and trust of Queen Mary is one of his assignments. He succeeds and Mary is exposed and beheaded.

Kit’s life is complicated by his love for another man, Tom Watson. Love like most other vices tends to skew a persons’ logic. Rather than escape a very dangerous situation love draws them back like a moth to a flame. Others within the Queen’s cadre of spies all vie for the control and top of the heap. Poisonings and daggers in the middle of the night are often the reward for hard and diligent work.

This author has pulled together a very believable narrative with predictable ends. Caring for Kit and his relationships are destroyed by the expectation of the outcome of his labors. The beheading of Mary Queen of Scots and the deaths of many of the spymasters begin to point towards a tragic conclusion. Once one begins to read the book you must see it through to its’ conclusion.

I recommend this book to any history buff. The narrative paints a very pathetic picture of England during the latter part of the sixteenth century. The smells and the religious turmoil caused by a king who wanted to divorce his wife are sad. Beheadings are a common occurrence and hanging is rampant. It is textbook for reasons that people immigrated from the old world to the new world. Enjoy! 5 stars – C.E. Williams

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts. Currently on pre-order.

Book Details:

Genre: Assassination Thrillers, Historical Thrillers
Publisher: Doubleday

  • ASIN : B088F26YSF

Print Length: 384 pages
Publication Date: To be released February 9, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Tip for the Hangman
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Allison Epstein - authorThe Author: Allison Epstein is a Michigan native, current Chicagoan, and hopefully someday the owner of a New England lighthouse. She holds an MFA in fiction from Northwestern University and a BA in creative writing from the University of Michigan. Allison works as a marketing copywriter at an agency serving not-for-profit clients. Two of her greatest joys in life are Broadway musicals and puns that get her thrown out of the group chat.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael McLellan – a #BookReview

A Review by the CE of this gripping and powerfully written historical novel.

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A McLellanBook Blurb:

Born into slavery, Henry’s young life is spent working in tobacco drying sheds on Missouri plantations. Freed at the onset of the Civil War, he’s alone, starving, and on the run from Confederate militiamen.

Five years later, Clara Hanfield, the daughter of a powerful New York shipping magnate, escapes her tyrannical father and travels west in pursuit of John Elliot, the man she loves. John, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was sent to the Dakota Territory where he discovers a government conspiracy to incite an all-out war with the Indians; a war meant to finally eliminate them as an obstacle to the westward expansion.

Henry finds himself caught in the middle.

Aided by Clara, John, and his native ally, Standing Elk, Henry must battle hatred, greed, and the ghosts of his past during this turbulent and troubling time in American history.

His Review:

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A McLellanBeing awarded your freedom papers did not make you free!  Marauders often caught young freed slaves, destroyed their papers and sold them back into slavery. The culprits were depraved and vicious in the treatment of the liberated.

Henry is born into slavery but given his freedom by his former master. He is not illiterate and some of his crimes include being able to read and write. His childhood sweetheart is attempting to escape with him but is caught and ultimately killed by the marauders. Heartbroken, Henry continues to head north in an attempt to escape their net.

The Native Americans of the Dakota territories are portrayed much more humane and sympathetic than the post Civil War population of middle America. Henry’s life is saved by these people and ultimately learns their language and ways of life. He becomes a scout for the US Army because of his ability to liaison and speak many languages.

Clara Hanfield and John Elliot, are a young couple in love trying to create a life together in the wild west. He has been shipped off, however, by Clara’s father from the military academy at West Point to Fort Laramie. Money and power have always separated lovers as well as the classes. Clara’s father is despotic and determined that his daughter not continue a relationship with John and seeks to destroy the relationship. Her father tries to send her to Pennsylvania. She convinces her escort instead to take her to out west to find John.

Eventually, all paths cross and John takes a sympathetic tack for the Indians he has comes to respect. Henry is intelligent and educated and is immensely empathetic. The storyline is immersive, capturing the emotions and ramping up the tension to the heartrending and poignant conclusion. CE Williams

We received this beautiful book from the author with the expectation of a review and these are my own opinions. I would read another by this author and this one is highly recommended. 5/5 Stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction, African Historical Fiction, War and Military Action Historical  Fiction

  • ISBN-10:1096423510
  • ISBN-13:978-1096423515
  • ASIN: B07RB7RHJW

Print Length: 269 pages
Publication Date: April 29, 2019
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Link: In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree
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Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Michael A McLellan - authorThe Author: Michael‘s love of books began with Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle when he was seven-years-old. Later influenced by the works of John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Stephen King, James Baldwin, and Cormac McCarthy, Michael developed his style of storytelling. A self-proclaimed blue-collar writer, he draws on his experiences and observations to bring relevant and compelling topics to life.

Michael lives in Northern California and when he’s not writing, he can usually be found wandering around the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges.

His body of work includes the 2014 novel After and Again, the 2015 novel American Flowers, and the 2017 novel, In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, as well as various shorts and essays.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams