Archive for November, 2012

Review: The Prophet – Ethan Cross

Thursday, November 29th, 2012
Paperback: 400 pages
Story Plant, The (October 16, 2012)
English
ISBN-10: 1611880459
ISBN-13: 978-1611880458
Order book here:

amazon

Order E-book here:
amazon

Characters:

Harrison Schofield – A serial killer preying on women.
Francis Ackerman Jr. – An escaped serial killer. Taunts Marcus.
Marcus Williams – Member of a DOJ group known as The Shepherds.
Victoria Vasques – FBI Agent.

Synopsis:

OLD ENEMIES…
Francis Ackerman Jr. is one of America’s most prolific serial killers. Having kept a low profile for the past year, he is ready to return to work – and he’s more brutal, cunning, and dangerous than ever.

NEW THREATS…
Scarred from their past battles, Special Agent Marcus Williams cannot shake Ackerman from his mind. But now Marcus must focus on catching the Anarchist, a new killer who drugs and kidnaps women before burning them alive.

HIDDEN TERRORS…
Marcus knows the Anarchist will strike again soon. And Ackerman is still free. But worse than this is a mysterious figure, unknown to the authorities, who controls the actions of the Anarchist and many like him. He is the Prophet – and his plans are more terrible than even his own disciples can imagine.

With attacks coming from every side, Marcus faces a race against time to save the lives of a group of innocent people chosen as sacrifices in the Prophet’s final dark ritual.

Review

Brutal. That was my thoughts from page 1 as the story opened with a bang on a woman and two cops being tortured by Francis Ackerman Jr.  Then the reader finds out there’s a second serial killer known as The Anarchist who is kidnapping and murdering young women.  Think two serial killers are enough, not even, that’s why a third is thrown in known as The Prophet.

This book kept me glued from the first pages.  Much of it was reminiscent of the Hannibal Lecter books.  The killers are brutal.  The Shepherds and the FBI really have their work cut out for them.

The characters were well developed, and even marginal characters I managed to find myself caring about.  There were also many surprises, some I saw coming, others I didn’t.

Before I was finished with this novel, I was ready to go and buy the two previous stories The Cage and The Shepherd.  I wanted to find out more about The Shepherds, and about Francist Ackerman.

If you are a fan of movies like Silence of the Lambs, SAW, and others in that Genre, than I think you’d really find something to like in this book.  If I were to give it a rating, I’d say R for all the blood and violence.

If you pick it up, be sure to come back by and let us know what you thought.

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Francis Ackerman Jr. stared out the window of the dark copper and white bungalow on Macarthur Boulevard. Across the street, a green sign with yellow letters read Mosswood Playground – Oakland Recreation Department. Children laughed and played while mothers and fathers pushed swings and sat on benches reading paperback novels or fiddling with cell phones. He had never experienced such things as a child. The only games his father ever played were the kind that scarred the body and soul. He had never been nurtured; he had never been loved. But he had come to accept that. He had found purpose and meaning born from the pain and chaos that had consumed his life.

He watched the sun reflect off all the smiling faces and imagined how different the scene would be if the sun suddenly burned out and fell from the heavens. The cleansing cold of an everlasting winter would sweep across the land, cleansing it, purifying it. He pictured the faces forever etched in torment, their screams silent, and their eyes like two crystal balls reflecting what lay beyond death.

He let out a long sigh. It would be beautiful. He wondered if normal people ever thought of such things. He wondered if they ever found beauty in death.

Ackerman turned back to the three people bound to chairs in the room behind him. The first two were men—plain-clothes cops that had been watching the house. The older officer had a pencil-thin mustache and thinning brown hair while his younger counterpart’s head was topped with a greasy mop of dark black. The younger man’s bushy eyebrows matched his hair, and a hooked nose sat above thin pink lips and a recessed chin. The first man struck Ackerman to be like any other cop he had met, honest and hard-working. But there was something about the younger man he didn’t like, something in his eyes. He suppressed the urge to smack the condescending little snarl from the younger cop’s ferret-like face.

But instead of hitting him, Ackerman just smiled at the cop. He needed a demonstration to get the information he needed, and the ferret would be perfect. His eyes held the ferret’s gaze a moment longer, and then he winked and turned to the last of his three captives.

Rosemary Phillips wore a faded Oakland Raiders sweatshirt. She had salt and pepper hair, and ancient pock marks marred her smooth dark chocolate complexion. Her eyes burned with a self-assurance and inner strength that Ackerman respected.

Unfortunately, he needed to find her grandson, and if necessary, he would kill all three of them to accomplish his goal.

He reached up to her mouth and pulled down the gag. She didn’t scream. “Hello, Rosemary. I apologize that I didn’t properly introduce myself earlier when I tied you up, but my name is Francis Ackerman Jr. Have you ever heard of me?”

Rosemary met his gaze. “I’ve seen you on television. You’re the serial killer whose father experimented on him as a child, trying to prove that he could create a monster. I guess he succeeded. But I’m not afraid of you.”

Ackerman smiled. “That’s wonderful. It means that I can skip the introductions and get straight to the point. Do you know why I asked these two gentleman to join us?”

Rosemary’s head swiveled toward the two officers. Her gaze lingered on the ferret. Ackerman saw disgust in her eyes. Apparently, she didn’t like him either. That would make things even more interesting once he started to torture the young cop.

“I’ve seen these two around,” she said. “I’ve already told the cops that my grandson ain’t no damn fool. He wouldn’t just show up here, and I haven’t heard from him since this mess started. But they wouldn’t listen. Apparently they think it’s a good idea to stake out an old lady’s house instead of being out there on the streets doing what the people of this city pay them to do. Typical government at work.”

Ackerman smiled. “I know exactly what you mean. I’ve never had much respect for authority. But you see, I’m looking for your grandson as well. I, however, don’t have the time or patience to sit around here on the off chance that he might show up. I prefer the direct approach, and so I’m going to ask you to level with me. Where can I find your grandson?”

“Like I told them, I have no idea.”

He walked over to a tall, mahogany hutch resting against the wall. It was old and well-built. Family pictures lined its surface and shelves. He picked up a picture of a smiling young black man with his arm around Rosemary. A blue and gold birthday cake sat in front of them. “Rosemary, I’ve done my homework, and I’ve learned that your grandson thinks the world of you. You were his anchor in the storm. Maybe the one good thing in his life. The one person who loved him. You know where he’s hiding, and you are going to share that information with me. One way or another.”

“Why do you even care? What’s he to you?”

“He’s nothing to me. I could care less about your grandson. But someone that I do care about is looking for him, and I try to be useful where I can. And like you said, sometimes bureaucracy and red tape are just too damn slow. We’re going to speed along the process.”

Rosemary shook her head and tugged on the ropes. “I don’t know where he is, and if I did, I’d never tell a monster like you.”

His father’s words tumbled through his mind.

You’re a monster…Kill her and the pain will stop…No one will ever love you…

“Oh, my dear, words hurt. But you’re right. I am a monster.”

Ackerman grabbed a duffle bag from the floor and tossed it onto a small end table. As he unzipped the bag and rifled through the contents, he said, “Are you familiar with the Spanish Inquisition? I’ve been reading a lot about it lately. It’s a fascinating period of history. The Inquisition was basically a tribunal established by Catholic monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile in order to maintain Catholic orthodoxy within their kingdoms, especially among the new converts from Judaism and Islam. But that’s not what fascinates me. What fascinates me are the unspeakable acts of barbarism and torture that were carried out in the name of God upon those deemed to be heretics. We think that we live in a brutal age, but our memories are very short-sighted. Any true student of history can tell you that this is the age of enlightenment compared to other periods throughout time. The things the inquisitors did to wrench confessions from their victims was nothing less than extraordinary. Those inquisitors displayed fabulous imagination.”

Ackerman brought a strange device up out of the duffle bag. “This is an antique. It’s previous owner claimed that it’s an exact replica of one used during the Inquisition. You’ve got to love Ebay.”

He held up the device—built from two large, spiked blocks of wood connected by two threaded metal rods an inch in diameter each—for their inspection. “This was referred to as the Knee Splitter. Although it was used on more than just knees. When the inquisitor would turn these screws, the two blocks would push closer together and the spikes would first pierce the flesh of the victim. Then the inquisitor would continue to twist the screws tighter and tighter until they received the answers they wanted or until the affected appendage was rendered useless.”

Rosemary spit at him. As she spoke, her words were strong and confident. He detected a slight hint of a Georgian accent and suspected that it was from her youth and only presented itself when she was especially flustered. “You’re going to kill us anyway. No matter what I do. I can’t save these men anymore than I can save myself. The only thing that I can control is the way that I go out. And I won’t grovel and beg to the likes of you. I won’t give you the satisfaction.”

He nodded. “I respect that. So many people blame the world or society or others for the way that they are. But we’re all victims of circumstance to a certain extent. We like to think that we’re in control of our own destinies, but the truth is that much of our lives are dictated by forces far beyond our control and comprehension. We all have our strings pulled by someone or something. It’s unavoidable. The only place that we have any real control is right here.” He tapped the tip of his fifteen-inch survival knife against his right temple. “Within our minds. Most people don’t understand that, but you do. I didn’t come here to kill you, Rosemary. It will give me no pleasure to remove you from the world. But my strings get pulled just like everyone else’s. In this case, circumstances dictate that I hurt you and these men in order to achieve my goal. I’m good at what I do, my dear. I’ve been schooled in pain and suffering my entire life. Time will only allow me to share a small portion of my expertise with you, but I can tell you that it will be enough. You will tell me. That’s beyond your control. The only aspect of this situation that you can influence is the duration of the suffering you must endure. So I’ll ask again, where is your grandson?”

Her lips trembled, but she didn’t speak.

The smell of cinnamon permeated the air but was unable to mask a feral aroma of sweat and fear. Ackerman had missed that smell. He had missed the fear, the power. But he needed to keep himself contained. He couldn’t lose control. This was about information, not about satisfying his own hunger.

“Time to begin. As they say, I’m going to put the screws to this officer. Makes you wonder if this device is responsible for such a saying, doesn’t it?”

~~*~~

After several moments of enjoyment with his new toy, Ackerman looked at Rosemary, but she had diverted her gaze. He twisted the handles again, and the officer’s thrashing increased.

“Okay, I’ll tell you!” she said. “He’s in Spokane, Washington. They’re set up in an abandoned metal working shop of some kind. Some crooked realtor set it up for them. I’ve tried to get him to turn himself in. I even consider calling the police myself, but I know that he and his friends won’t allow themselves to be captured alive. He’s the only family I have left.” Tears ran down her cheeks.

Ackerman reached down and twisted the pressure from the officer’s legs. The man’s head fell back against the chair. “Thank you. I believe you, and I appreciate your situation. Your grandson has been a bad boy. But he’s your flesh and blood, and you still love him.”

He walked over to the table and pulled up another chair in front of Rosemary. As he sat, he pulled out a small notepad. It was spiral-bound from the top with a blood red cover. “Since you’ve been so forthcoming with me and out of respect, I’ll give you a genuine chance to save your lives.” He flipped up the notepad’s cover, retrieved a small pen from within the spiral, and started to write. As the pen traveled over the page, he said, “I’m going to let you pick the outcome of our little game. On this first sheet, I’ve written ‘ferret’ to represent our first officer.” He tore off the page, wadded it up, and placed it between his legs. “On the second, we’ll write ‘Jackie Gleason’ to represent the next officer. Then Rosemary. Then all live. And all die.”

He stirred up the wadded pieces of paper and placed them on the floor in front of her. “I think the game is self-explanatory, but to make sure that there’s no confusion, you pick the piece of paper, and I kill whoever’s name is on it. But you do have a twenty percent chance that you all live. And just to be clear, if you refuse to pick or take too long, I’ll be happy to kill all three of you. So please don’t try to fight fate. The only thing you have control over here is which piece of paper you choose. Have no illusions that you have other options. It will only serve in making the situation even less manageable for you. Pick one.”

Rosemary’s eyes were full of hate. They burrowed into him. Her gaze didn’t waver. A doctor named Kendrick from the Cedar Mill Psychiatric Hospital had once told Ackerman that he had damage to a group of interconnected brain structures, known as the paralimbic system, that were involved in processing emotion, goal seeking, motivation, and self-control. The doctor had studied his brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging technology and had also found damage to an area known as the amygdala that generated emotions such as fear. Monkeys in the wild with damage to the amygdala had been known to walk right up to people or even predators. The doctor had said this explained why Ackerman didn’t feel fear in the way that other people did. He wondered if Rosemary had a similar impairment or if her strength originated from somewhere else entirely.

She looked down at the sheets of paper then back into his eyes. “Third one. The one right in the center.”

He reached down and uncrumpled the small piece of paper. He smiled. “It’s your lucky day. You all get to live. I’m sorry that you had to endure this due to the actions of someone else. But as I said, we’re all victims of circumstance.”

Then he stood, retrieved his things, and exited onto Macarthur Boulevard.

~~*~~

Ackerman tossed his duffle bag into the trunk of a light-blue Ford Focus. He wished he could travel in more style, but the ability to blend outweighed his own sense of flare. He pulled open the driver’s door, slipped inside, and dropped some jewelry and the wallets and purse of his former captives on the seat next to him. He hated to lower himself to common thievery, but everything cost money. And his skill set didn’t exactly look good on a resume. Besides, he didn’t have time for such things.

He retrieved a disposable cell phone from the glove box and activated the device. As he dialed and pressed send, he looked down at the small slip of paper that Rosemary had chosen. The words All Die stared back at him.

After a few rings, the call connected, and the voice on the other end said, “What do you want?”

Ackerman smiled. “Hello, Marcus. Please forgive me, for I have sinned. But I do it all for you.”

About the Author

When a fireman or a policeman would visit his school, most of his classmates’ heads would swim with aspirations of growing up and catching bad guys or saving someone from a blazing inferno. When these moments came for Ethan Cross, however, his dreams weren’t to someday be a cop or put out fires; he just wanted to write about it. His dream of telling stories on a grand scale came to fruition with the release of his first novel, the international bestseller, THE SHEPHERD.

Ethan Cross is the pen name of a thriller author living and writing in Illinois with his wife, two daughters, and two Shih Tzus. In addition to The Shepherd and The Prophet, he has published two no- vellas––The Cage and Callsign: Knight (with Jeremy Robinson).

Author Websites

Tour Schedule

October 16th:  Review & Showcase~CMash Reads
October 17th:  Review~Taking it One Page at a Time
October 17th:  Guest Post~Writers and Authors
October 18th:  Review~Beth Art from the Heart
October 19th:  Showcase~Omnimystery News
October 22nd: Review & Giveaway~Popcorn Reads
October 23rd:  Review & Guest Post~Dr. Pepper Diva
October 25th:  Review, Guest Post & Giveaway~Wanted Readers
October 28th: Review, Interview & Giveaway~Bless Their Hearts Mom
October 29th:  Review~Teena In Toronto
October 30th:  Review~Keenly Kristin
October 30th:  Interview~Writers and Authors
November 1st: Review & Guest Post~Reviews By Molly
November 2nd: Review~Tales of a Book Addict
November 6th: Review~Hotchpotch
November 7th: Reveiw & Giveaway~ From the TBR Pile
November 8th: Review & Guest Post~The Bunny’s Review
November 13th:  Review & Interview~Everything Distils Into Reading
November 15th: Review~Musings of a Bookish Kitty
November 15th: Review~Mary’s Cup of Tea
November 16th: Review, Interview & Giveaway~Jersey Girl Book Reviews
November 21st:  Review~Smootchiefrog Reviews
November 22nd:  Review, Interview & Giveaway~Project to be Read
November 24th:  Review~The Self-Taught Cook
November 26th:  Review & Guest Post~The Top Shelf
November 27th:  Review~Heck Of A Bunch
November 29th:  Review~Writers and Authors
November 29th:  Review~Rhodes Review
November 30th: Review~Mama Knows Books
December 1st:  Review & Guest Post~ Electronic Scrapbook
December 3rd:  Review~The Stuff of Success
December 4th:  Review & Interview~Books and Needlepoint
December 5th:  Review~{Dive} Under The Cover
December 6th:  Review~Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book
December 7th:  Review~Sweeping The USA
December 8th: Review & Guest Post~Socrate’s Book Review Blog
December 10th: Review~Celticlady’s Reviews
December 10th:  Holiday Wishlist Spotlight~Writers and Authors
December 11th:  Review~SavingFor6
December 12th: Review~Dear, Restless Reader
December 20th: Guest Post~Books à la Mode
December 21st: Review~Read 2 Review

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Cheryl at Partners in Crime Tour for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Review: Dangerous Past – Allen F. Ebbers

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: SilverHawk Books; 1st edition (May 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0978948238
ISBN-13: 978-0978948238
Order book here:

amazon

Order E-book here:
amazon

Characters:

Synopsis:

Airline Captain Frank Braden and his wife Nicole are suddenly stalked by professional assassins who have a deadline to make their deaths look like an accident or a suicide. And the couple doesn’t know why they are being targeted. They don’t realize that they stand in the way of a deadly conspiracy. Little by little they are pulled into a dangerous web of intrigue by a murderous criminal network that deceptively offers the pilot his wife’s life if he will concede to their demands. This is a thriller that rocks the highest levels of Washington. Dangerous Past is a story of a man who must choose between doing what ought to be done or keeping his family alive by allowing a murderous and powerful VIP to escape his past.

Review:

This story was a fast, short read. The author managed to twist an intriquing web of political corruption into a tale along the lines of The Fugitive. Frank Braden is out to prove that he’s not suicidal, and that he isn’t responsible for the bomb aboard a commercial airliner. There are times when even his own wife doubts his story.

As the story unfolds, it flips back and forth between the current time period and Vietnam. There was one area I found a little unbelievable, but would be a spoiler to mention. Let’s say it involves a prominent political figure that somehow managed to hide for years.

Outside that I found it an enjoyable story. I think it would be good for all those political thriller and or mystery/thriller types of readers. I’d rate it as PG-13 for older teens and adults due to situations.

Check out the book, and be sure to drop us a note and let us know what you thought.

Excerpt:

It was nine at night, when the FBI agent watching Frank’s house decided to drive down the road to get a cup of coffee. He figured it would take no longer than twenty minutes.

Inside the house Nicole made some coffee and gave a cup to Frank to take outside to give to the agent. Frank went out the front door and looked for the agent’s car. He peered into the darkness and started to cross the street when he heard a voice from the side of the yard. “I’m back here.” Frank turned around and walked into the dark beside his house. “Over here.” Frank thought the voice now came from the back yard and he continued toward the rear of the house. When he got to the rear yard, Frank still couldn’t see the agent.

“Hey, where in the devil are you? I got some hot coffee.” “I think I saw someone run into the foliage near the lake. You better go back inside where it’s safe while I have a look around.” “No, I’ll help you search. Wait a minute.”

Frank jogged towards the voice that seemed to be closer to the lake now.

Standing in the shadows, John smiled. For whatever reason, whether his victim was a macho know-it-all type or just naive of the danger, many of the men he had killed had swallowed that bait. He also figured from the fax sheet he had received, that the Austin police had taken Frank’s .38-calber revolver. Under the new waiting law, John knew it was impossible for Frank to get another weapon so soon unless his intended victim wasn’t a law-biding citizen. And John was counting on Frank to be a law-abiding sort.

As Frank neared Town Lake, he wished he had brought a flashlight. He couldn’t see the agent at all. So he went toward the shrubbery where he last heard the voice.

“Hey, fellow, where are you?” Frank said. He felt foolish that he didn’t know the agent’s name.

“Here, right behind you.” The voice startled Frank and he whirled around to face a well-built man wearing all black as though he was on a Special Forces recon night team. I’m in trouble, Frank thought, as he looked down the silencer barrel of a 9mm pistol. God, this guy is really good.

“Did you kill the agent that was watching me?” “I wasn’t paid to do that. Now, Frankie boy, let’s me and you take a walk to the shoreline.”

About the Author:

A. F. Ebbers, a journalism graduate of Ohio University was a reporter/writer for major newspapers, ad agencies, and in public relations for Cessna

Aircraft Company. He also graduated from Army Flight School and flew for the Ohio and Kansas Army National Guards. Later he was called to active duty and served two flying tours in Vietnam. After retirement from the military, he flew for corporations and for regional airlines. A dual rated ATP pilot, he has written for numerous national magazines, Sunday supplements and trade and travel magazines and has written screenplays and short stories. Today he lives with his wife in the Austin, Texas area and, when not writing, enjoys tennis, golf, flying and piano. Dangerous Past is his debut novel.

Tour Schedule:

November 1st:  Spotlight & Suest Post~Read 2 Review
November 2nd:  Review & Giveaway~Teena In Toronto
November 5th:  Spotlight & Guest Post~Writers and Authors
November 6th:  Review & Giveaway~Tabula Rasa
November 7th:  Review & Giveaway~Beth Art From the Heart
November 8th:  Review & Giveaway~Kritters Ramblings
November 14th: Review ~ The Stuff of Success
November 15th:  Review & Giveaway~Wanted Readers
November 16th:  Review~Heck Of A Bunch
November 18th:  Review~Smoochiefrog Reviews
November 19th:  Showcase/Spotlight~Electronic Scrapbook
November 23rd:  Review & Giveaway~The Top Shelf
November 27th: Review ~ Rhodes Review
November 28th: Review, Interview & Giveaway~Reviews By Molly
November 30th: Review ~ Mary’s Cup of Tea

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Cheryl at Partners In Crime Tours for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Review: Journeys on the Silk Road – Joyce Morgan & Conrad Walters

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Lyons Press (September 4, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0762782978
ISBN-13: 978-0762782970
Order book here:

amazon

Order E-book here:
amazon

Synopsis:

In the early 1900s, Word reached Aurel Stein about a hidden library in a cave. This library contained thousands of manuscripts and scrolls of ancient Chinese and Buddhist writings. He set out on a journey that led him along the Silk Road to discover these lost secrets. One of these secrets would surprise not only himself, but the world.

Review

This was an extremely fascinating look at the field of Archaeology. You get to follow the journey not only from the beginning, whispered rumors of great treasures, but you get to follow them afterwards to the museums and further. Along the way, the reader experiences through the text what the work is like, the sacrifices made, and most of all, that it ain’t Indiana Jones.

While the material sounds like it would be rather dry,, the author manages to write in an entertaining style. History unfolds, and the learning experience is outstanding. I learned more than I ever knew about Chinese, Indian, and Buddhist Culture. I also was able to see what happened to these treasures during WW2 and the measures taken by the governments to protect them. You also get to see some of the maneuvering/arm twisting that will go on to obtain these ancient treasures.

If you are interested in books, history, or the field of Archaelogy, then by all means pick up this book. I think you’d find it a fascinating journey as did I. I’d say the book is suitable for all ages, though young readers might not find it interesting, unless they really love the topic. There was really no objectional language, though there were instances of Animals dying due to weather conditions.

About the Author

Joyce Morgan

Joyce Morgan has worked as a journalist for more than three decades in London, Sydney and Hong Kong. Her writing has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Guardian and The Bangkok Post. She has written on arts and culture since 1994.

Joyce is a senior arts writer at The Sydney Morning Herald and a former arts editor of the paper. She has also worked as a producer with ABC Radio. Born in Liverpool, England, she has travelled extensively in Asia, including India, Pakistan, China and Tibet.

Conrad Walters

Conrad Walters has worked in the media for more than thirty years in the United States, where he won awards for investigative journalism, and in Australia, where he is a feature writer and book reviewer at The Sydney Morning Herald.

Conrad was born in Boston, educated in Europe and the Middle East and has lived in seven countries. He has travelled widely through North America, Europe and Asia. He has a master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Leyane at FSB Associates for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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Giveaway – Sasha Plotkin’s Deceit

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Thanks to Cheryl at Partners in Crime Tours I”m able to offer my readers 1 ebook copy of this book. To enter, follow these simple rules:

1) One Entry if you’re a follower [You can follow through Google Friend connect to the right, you can also sign up to follow through Twitter or Facebook].
2) An Additonal Entry if you blog about this contest.
3) An Additonal Entry if you’re a new follower.
4) One entry each for posting on facebook and/or twitter.
5) Must leave a comment letting me know how you follow me, blog link to this post, facebook/twitter link, etc.
6) Contest will continue until 11/27/2012.

See our review here.

2 people like this post.

Review: Sasha Plotkin’s Deceit – Vaughn Sherman

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
Paperback: 320 pages
Camel Press; 1st edition (August 1, 2012)
English
ISBN-10: 1603818111
ISBN-13: 978-1603818117
Order book here:

amazon

Order E-book here:
amazon


Characters:

Sasha Plotkin – KGB Agent wanting to defect.
Chris Holbeck – A CIA agent working to help Sasha defect.
Lisa Holbeck – Chris’ wife who is drawn into the political web.

Synopsis:

The setting is the late 60s early 1970s. Chris Holbeck is a CIA agent who happens to meet his counterpart in the KGB, Sasha Plotkin. The two men develop a friendship. During the course of this friendship, Chris learns that Sasha wants to defect. They set plans in place, and Sasha never shows up. A few years later, Chris receives news that they’ve once again made contact, and Sasha wants to work only with Chris.

Review

The plot for this is in some ways reminiscent of The Spy who came in from the cold, for that is exactly what Sasha is wanting to do. There are multiple conflicts the character run into, from Chris’ family resenting his career, to trust issues with Sasha.

The author takes you on a lot of twists and turns, not only with the relationship between Sasha and Chris, but also between Chris and his family. You are able to see the toll that being an agent can have on one’s family.

I really liked the book, and felt the ending was wrapped up rather nicely. The author, himself a CIA agent, pulled from some of his own experiences in crafting the story. This added a great depth of realism to the story.

If you are interested in the spy novels along the lines of James Bond, you won’t find that here. But if you are interested in spy novels set in reality, with the way a real spy would handle his job, I think this should suit you greatly.

It was a very good reading experience, and I’d look forward to more stories about Chris Holbeck and his family. If I were going to rate it, I’d rate it PG-13 just due to the content.

Pick it up, give it a read, and drop back by to let us know what you thought.

Excerpt

Friday dawned much like the day of his last meeting with Plotkin, cold and clear with new snow. Such a pretty day that this time he  resolved not to return to the Embassy after signaling Plotkin at NK that the meeting was on. After the safety signal at ten o’clock, he’d go directly home, maybe have a chance to chat with Lisa before lunch.

Upon leaving the Embassy, he noted that the sun hadn’t warmed the air at all. The squeaking snow under his feet confirmed how cold it was as he walked toward his car. The shadows from the trees along Strandvägen weren’t quite as long as they had been last week at this time. Stockholm was on the downhill ride toward spring. In the scant hour he’d been at the Embassy the car had cooled off completely. He let it warm up before driving downtown to wait the few minutes at NK for Plotkin’s safety signal. No policeman this time, and no Plotkin visible in the park. But then he hadn’t seen Plotkin last time, either.

Next he headed west from the city, toward home. Chris enjoyed the drive and was feeling good as he slid to a stop in front of his house. Lisa didn’t reply to his cheery “Hello” when he let himself in through the front door. Now what? Her actions were so strange these days he was afraid she might have taken off without preparing the lunch for Plotkin. A walk through the dining room to the kitchen put his mind at ease. The table was set, and soup was simmering on the stove. She must have walked down to the shopping square for some last minute items. It wasn’t yet ten thirty, and she had no reason to expect him. He went back to the front windows to look down the  street, on the chance that he might see her walking back. No Lisa, only a skier heading toward Drottningholm. This castle was located not much more than a mile from their home across Drottningholm Bridge. It was a favorite residence of the royal family and surrounded by a park open to the public.

He and Lisa had skied there several times with the children during the Christmas holidays. An idea struck. Chris went quickly to his bedroom to change into long johns and ski pants, then to the front hall for his ski parka, hat and mittens. Next he went to the garage for his skis. He’d ski down to the square to pick up Lisa and come back with her. Outside the garage door, he slapped his skis down on the new snow and fastened the cable bindings. Out on the street Chris looked in the direction of the square. Still no Lisa. Nobody, in fact, on the street. In the other direction the skier had long since disappeared. An hour skiing at Drottningholm would probably do  him more good than trying to talk with Lisa. Few people were outdoors on this work and school day. It was terribly cold, but the atmosphere brought some needed peace to Chris. He felt good. The  children in their neighborhood were on skis most every afternoon. As he used his poles to push himself along and keep his balance, he thought about how Missy and her friends skied merrily along with no poles. Ah, to be young again!

There was a knoll off the beaten path in the park where somebody had built a small ski jump, maybe a couple of feet high. Probably some of the older boys who lived nearby. Chris thought about trying it.   He’d do it. Climbing the knoll took more out of him than he’d expected.

Wheezing at the top, he made his weekly resolve to start an exercise program. The knoll wasn’t high, but looking down the run to the jump, it appeared a lot more impressive than from the bottom. Well, he had been a pretty good skier during college days. There wasn’t anybody in sight to embarrass him if he botched the little jump. He poled hard and headed downhill. Two things surprised Chris. First, his skis were much faster than expected. When he started out he almost lost his balance backwards. Then, when he dug  in the poles and launched himself on the jump, he went much higher than he thought he would. In the few seconds he was in the air he realized that he had overcompensated for the first mistake. Now he was leaning too far forward. He tried to bring up the tips of his skis and failed, hitting the snow with the tip of one ski. He somersaulted, bounced on his shoulders, made a half-roll and came to a stop with his right ski buried in the snow.

His leg must be badly twisted, he thought. He moved to untangle himself and came close to fainting. It was more than a twist, for sure. The pain was awful when he tried to move.

Chris lay back, chilled, and felt the panic start. Nobody was in sight.

About the Author

Vaughn Sherman was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, where he attended Roosevelt High School. After an active duty Navy tour late in World War II, he attended and graduated from the University of Washington, working in Alaska for the Fish and Wildlife Service during summer vacations.

The Alaska experience led Vaughn into the career of a fisheries biologist, working for the Washington State Department of Fisheries. That career was cut short when he was recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency. He served long assignments in the Far East and Europe before doing a short tour in Vietnam 1973-74. That assignment ended when his wife became ill and he was needed at home to care for her and three school-age children.

After taking early retirement Vaughn’s community activities have mostly involved the governance of non-profit agencies and community colleges. This work includes presentations and retreat leadership all over the country. He has served on the Board of Trustees of Edmonds Community College, as president of Washington State’s Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges (TACTC), and as president of the national Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT).

Vaughn studied creative writing at the University of Washington, an interest that has resulted in several publications. In addition to Sasha’s Plotkin’s Deceit, he wrote the memoir of a northwest mariner titled An Uncommon Life (1988). Two small books dealing with the management of community college boards of trustees have been published by ACCT. Essentials of Good Board/CEO Relations was released in 1999 and is now in its second edition. The Board Chair: A Guide for Leading Community Colleges, a collaboration with his colleague Dr. Cindra Smith, was published in 2002. A third book will be released in early 2012: Walking the Board Walk—Secrets of an Enjoyable Nonprofit Board Experience. This guide shares Vaughn’s thirty years of experience both as a member and trainer of nonprofit boards.

A certified mediator, Vaughn is a volunteer with the Dispute Resolution Center of Snohomish, Island and Skagit Counties.

After the passing of his first wife, Vaughn married Jan Lind-Sherman, a teacher who brought her own children into the marriage. Their extended family includes eight children, eleven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and assorted siblings, nieces, nephews and daughters-in-law.

Tour Schedule

October 22nd:  Review & Giveaway~Teena In Toronto
October 24th:  Review & Giveaway~Beauty In Ruins
October 26th: Review & Giveaway~The Book Connection
October 31st:  Review & Giveaway~Impressions In Ink
November 1st:  Review, Guest Post & Giveaway~JeanBookNerd
November 3rd: Review, Guest Post & Giveaway~Electronic Scrapbook
November 5th:  Showcase Spotlight~Omnimystery News
November 8th:  Review & Giveaway~ Two Weeks From Everywhere
November 12th:  Review, Guest Post & Giveaway~The Top Shelf
November 15th:  Showcase Spotlight~Read 2 Review
Nvember 19th:  Review & Giveaway~The Stuff of Success
November 20th:  Review & Giveaway~Rhodes Review
November 26th:  Review, Interview & Giveaway~Reviews By Molly

See our giveaway for 1 electronic copy of this by going here.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Cheryl at Partners in Crime Tour for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

New Site Opening

Saturday, November 10th, 2012

My dear friends over at the Nook Users Book Club are launchign their website today. Go visit there by clicking here, tell them I sent you, and see what all they have to offer you. You’ll find them to be a nice group of people and a good place for you to find books.