Book Review – Collateral Damage by Steve Howell

November 23, 2021

This is a political thriller set mostly in London and partly in Libya just after the aerial bombing of President Gaddafi’s residence by the USA.  A young journalist dies mysteriously while attending a conference in Tripoli.  A junior solicitor is persuaded by the dead man’s girlfriend and his own ex-girlfriend to fly to Libya to find out exactly what had happened so she can gain closure.  The solicitor’s ex-girlfriend’s current boyfriend, who was at the conference with the deceased, is unable to travel with them because of a family illness so the solicitor and the decease’s girlfriend travel to Libya together.

They arrive in Libya where they are met by the deceased’s father and a Foreign Office official whose attitude towards them is decidedly frosty bordering on hostile.  They return to England with the cause of death unresolved and subsequently discover that the circumstances surrounding the death are not what they were at first led to believe.

It is an intriguing story which keeps the reader turning the pages as further disturbing revelations come to light and I thoroughly recommend this book to all those who enjoy tales of political deception.

 

Keith Jahans

 

Published by Quaero Publishing
and available as an ebook and paperback


Book Review – Destination Unknown: A Tale of Time Travel by Kathleen Ballantine Watson

November 6, 2021

This is an intriguing tale about time travel and a serial killer.  I would have never dared to mixed these subjects myself but the author seems to have made them work.

The novel concentrates on the time travel aspects of the story and in particular the transportation of the heroine back to the mid nineteenth century.  She is stalked by the killer who has a list of female victims behind him.  The description of life in the USA rural 1800s, especially the people she encounters, is particularly good.

The narrative falls down a little with her projections of the future but despite this I found it a good read as the plot kept me turning the pages right until the end.

 

Keith Jahans

Available as an ebook and
paperback from Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Book Review – Tall Tales: A collection of short stories by Jack Kregas

June 15, 2021

This is a collection of stories written by a master.  The author has an exceptional understanding of his characters.  Because of this it is easy to empathise with them during the trials and tribulations they go through.

This is readily apparent right from the first story, “It’s There for the Taking”, where the two main protagonists scale icy Alpine slopes.  The reader literally feels the cold, fear and exhilaration they go through.  It is a remarkable piece of writing.  In the second story, “Lopez”, the writer demonstrates his comprehensive understanding of baseball and the emotions a player and spectators can go through.  The third tale, “Sinner Sid, expertly describes the actions of a master manipulator of people, and the final story, Morris Morris, tells how two people can overcome the loneliness and challenges of retirement.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading these tales and recommend them to anyone who enjoys good writing.

 

Keith Jahans

This edition is published as an ebook
and is available on Amazon


Book Review – The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger

December 11, 2020

This book had been on my radar for some time now.  Then I saw that there was a new film out about Salinger which I wanted to see but I felt I should get on and read his most celebrated work first.

I had thought that given its title the narrative should be set in the countryside, rather like Cider With Rosie, which I have not read but have seen a film adaptation, but I was very much mistaken.  The title comes from a misquoted poem by Robert Burns and the story is set initially in the narrator’s private school then in New York where he navigates himself around this his home city.

He writes in a very adolescent style, reflecting the age of his protagonist and describes his attitude towards the people he meets on his journey and what he perceives is their attitude towards him.  But it is towards the end of the book that the meaning of the title becomes apparent and the reader can decide who the catcher is.

It is a compelling read and on the surface nothing much seems to happen but when I finished reading and gave it some thought I felt the content provided a fascinating commentary on the human condition.  I recommend that book lovers read it and work out any hidden meanings for themselves.

Keith Jahans

 

Published by Penguin in hardback,
paperback and as an ebook


Book Review – Against All Odds by Jacqui Murray

November 11, 2020

I normally review trilogies by reading the first book in the series but in this case I went against my norm by starting at the last first.  This maybe because I have a passing interest in writings about early man and had read some of the works by Jean M Auel, starting with The Clan of Cave Bear, and having enjoyed them.

In this work I did not feel a pressing need to go back into the history of the central character but felt that I knew enough about primitive humans to skip that part.  I may have missed out on some of the story but feel that any novel featuring the same central characters should be able to stand on its own.  I found this book in that regard was largely able to do that.  However, it contained a large assortment of characters with strangely spelt names which probably made who they were and how they interacted clearer if I had indeed started with the first book.

The author had done her research and obviously knew a great deal about the period of which she was writing.  This was clear not only from the list of references at the end but also of the descriptions she used in the narrative.  Giving such characters depth is a challenge in itself as primitive peoples were far more involved in surviving from day to day than interacting with each other in what we would describe as a social level today.  The author manages this extremely well, giving the objects, animals and people that surround them names that were possibly used by humans of that time.  The book is a fascinating read and I highly recommend it.

 

Keith Jahans

Published by Structured Learning LLC
in Paperback and as a Kindle E-book


Book Review – Backstage by Harmony Kent

August 3, 2020

This erotic romance encompasses most of the elements of the recent “Me Too” scandals when actresses have come forward to describe events in which they have been sexually abused by powerful men in the entertainment industry.  The characters in the book are well described, particularly the perpetrator and his female accomplice.  The sex scenes are graphically depicted and fit well within the narrative.  Some readers may be put off by the explicit content, which I found did not detract from the story itself.  Although described as a romance the novel is more of a thriller and the plot kept me turning the pages right to the end.

Keith Jahans

Published by Harmony Kent Author Servicesandals,
in paperback and as an ebook


Book Review – Frankly, My Dear by Don Manssenzio

July 16, 2020

I have a particular fondness for private detective novels, particularly those set in the USA and this one proved to be no exception.  The detectives involved here are clearly a close knit family.  All seemed to be involved in this story to some extent, including the detective’s dog, but the chief protagonists are the private detective, Frank Rozzani and his lawyer partner, Jonesy.

The plot is a twist on the normal narrative for this type of story, in that the detectives are asked to represent a man who has been accused of abusing his girlfriend.  All the characters are believable, especially the villains.  Rossani and Jonesey are accomplished jazz musicians and a little of the action revolves around their music and the club where they play.  I am not familiar with the music titles or the work of the artists referred to in the novel but the author is clearly a Jazz aficionado.

The pace is fast moving with a number of twists and turns which is a prerequisite of the genre.  I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Keith Jahans

Published DSM Publications as
an ebook, paperback and audiobook


Book Review – Rosé’s Bent Stem by Nomita Khanna

June 29, 2020

This thriller took me a while to get use to the author’s writing style but once I did I found the story fascinating.  Nomita Khanna gets into the mind of a psychopath and narrates in the first person.  Thus much of the expressions used are disjointed and sometimes weird.  It is a valiant attempt to seek out what motivates a disturbed individual and I feel the writer succeeds in that attempt.  Like me readers might not at first fully understand what is going on here but if they stick with it they are in for a fascinating treat.

Keith Jahans

Independently published and available as an ebook and paperback


Book Review – The Power of Love by Phyllis J Burton

June 4, 2020

Here are some heart warming stories which are very readable.  They are just right for downloading to a Kindle or smart phone to grab a quick read during a spare moment.  The author has a knack for holding one’s attention to the end of each short narrative which leaves the reader with the feeling of a time well spent.  I recommend this work to anyone who enjoys short fiction.

Keith Jahans

Available from Amazon Media
as an ebook and paperback


Book Review – Bongo Fury Novella Collection: Novella Collection and Soundtrack by Simon Maltman

March 13, 2020

The hard hitting dialogue may not be to everyone’s taste and it took me a while to get use to it.  I have no idea how authentic the language used is typical of the underclass in Northern Island, but because of my sketchy knowledge of the recent history of the province during the ‘Troubles’, I found it believable.  The plot had a number of exciting twists and turns which held my interest.

The book is titled as a collection of novellas.  I searched Amazon and discovered that each had been published separately; but judging by the way the stories are intertwined, this collection can be regarded as a short novel in its own right.  Just over half way through the book the author introduces a short story read to a small audience by a friend of the protagonist.  The story does not fit into the rest of the narrative and I presume is included to show that the author can write in a more genteel style.  The font changes to italics for this narrative and then slips back to the original font for the main plot.

The inclusion of the short story may be a marketing ploy as is the inclusion of a link to a music download described as a soundtrack.  It is not really, but it is a sample of the author’s own music.  I downloaded my copy and my initial listening found it interesting but not remarkable.  However, I do think it is the kind of music I might come to like on repeated playings so I will stick with it.

Keith Jahans

Available as a papeback and ebook


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