Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Review: Rebellion Reborn by Brian S. Leon



Genre: Urban Fantasy/Mythology/Contemporary

Description:

“Millennia ago, beings we call angels were tasked with watching over humankind in its infancy. Rather than protect humans, these Watchers decided to subjugate them instead, beginning a rebellion that would rock both Heaven and Earth. Defeated, the most powerful of the Watchers were imprisoned for eternity, while the weaker ones were condemned to live out their existence on Earth, relegated to the shadows that now occupy human myths and legends.

Until one of the Watchers escapes.

Immortal protector of humanity and one-time hero of the Trojan War, Diomedes—better known as Steve Dore these days—is horrified to discover that what human authorities think is a mentally unstable cannibalistic murderer is actually a gateway to something ancient and apocalyptic. Racing against a cosmic timetable, Diomedes is drawn into a dark and sinister underworld in a desperate attempt to stop another uprising.

But stopping this enemy may cost him far more than his life. Some grudges never die.”

Author:

“Brian S. Leon is truly a jack of all trades and a master of none. He writes just to do something with all the useless degrees and skills he’s accumulated over the years. Most of them have no practical application in civilized society, anyway. His interests include mythology and fishing, in pursuit of which he has explored jungles and museums, oceans and seas all over the world.

His credentials include an undergraduate degree from the University of Miami and a master’s degree from San Diego State University, plus extensive postgraduate work in evolutionary biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he studied animals most people aren’t even aware exist and theories no one really cares about anyway… Brian currently resides in San Diego, California.”

Learn more at Brian's website, or follow his series page on Facebook.

Appraisal:

Rebellion Reborn begins by recounting events from a century earlier when Diomedes first encounters an evil Watcher who has escaped his prison. This evil manifests as a huge black shadow who kills randomly. We are also introduced to the heavenly crusaders who are sent to assist Diomedes. At that time all they managed to do was send the shadow scrambling into hiding.

Now one hundred years later this evil has a grand plan to release all the Watchers so they can rule our world again, without any pesky angles around to interfere. He has managed to organize lesser demons, succubae and higher functioning vampires, to collect humans to become vessels. They have utilized elite BDSM clubs to find suitable subjects. When the Department of Homeland Security gets involved Sarah goes undercover to infiltrate their operation to learn their plans. Steve Dore is against her joining the sting, but one of the reasons he loves her is because she is strong willed and independent. All pretenses between Sarah and Steve Dore have been thrown to the wayside.  

The story arc is well written and the descriptive prose puts the reader near all the action. There are plenty of twists to keep the tension at an unrelenting level until the end. Now I need the next book by, like, tomorrow, okay? I’m not really happy with the ending, but it is more of a personal thing, because I can’t really see where things are going to go now. I’m probably more upset with myself because I felt like I knew Steve Dore better, and that may be the answer. I do know Steve Dore, but I don’t know Diomedes as well as I thought I did.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Rebellion Reborn is book 3 in Brian S. Leon’s, The Metis Files. Adult themes and language. If you are sensitive to either of these, this book may not be for you.

Format/Typo Issues:

No issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 105-110,000 words

Monday, October 15, 2018

Review: How to Profit and Protect Yourself from Artificial Intelligence by Dr. Timothy Smith



Genre: Non-Fiction

Description:

“The rapidly growing impact of artificial intelligence permeates our lives through multiple channels from the tech giants such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook to the computers controlling our cars, smartphones, and robots on the factory floor. Analysts project massive disruption in employment from this new technology with many jobs being automated in the next twenty years. The era of artificial intelligence is upon us, and the potential for great profits to society, business, and individuals stems from advances in transportation, healthcare, and manufacturing. The potential for profit stands in contrast to the possible dangers to our jobs, privacy, society and more. Don’t stand on the sidelines. Learn the potentials and limitations of this new technology to best position yourself, your family, and your career for profit and protection in the new era of A.I.”

Author:

I was unable to find any information about the author. Presumably he has some expertise in the subject of this book. I also found that when the book covered areas where I have some experience, expertise, or prior knowledge, I didn’t spot any problems. That combined with numerous footnotes including references to other sources gave me confidence that the author knows what he’s writing about.

Appraisal:

The mention of protecting yourself from artificial intelligence in the title gave me a bit of concern going in. I was afraid I might find more conspiracy theory and alarmist rhetoric than is justified. The only alarmist was me. Instead I found the information contained to be an excellent introduction to artificial intelligence including the history of the field, an explanation of where things stand now, some ideas on where things might be headed, along with what that might mean to you and me.

I found the explanations and examples given to illustrate the possibilities readily understandable by the average person. The cautions are common sense and not alarmist. For example, the book discusses the effects of artificial intelligence on the job market thus far as well as what we might expect in the future. If you’re planning your future career or considering a career change, the author discusses how you can evaluate the potential risk of that career becoming all or partially displaced in the near future by artificial intelligence and if that were to happen, how it might change the job. This is a book that most of us could benefit from reading to help us understand what the future is likely to bring.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

Some minor proofing issues such as missing words. More than I like to see, but not enough to drop a star from the rating.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words

Friday, October 12, 2018

Review: The Death and Life of Dominick Davidner by Shawn Inmon



Genre: Science Fiction/Time Travel

Description:

“How many lives would you spend to find your beloved?

Dominick Davidner was murdered. Then things got worse.

Instead of going on to the afterlife, Dominick found himself back in his nine year old body, all memories of his previous life intact. All he can think about is Emily, the love of his life, left behind when he died.

Unfortunately, she is now thousands of miles away. How can Dominick find his way back to the woman he loves, and what will he say if he finds her?”

Author:

Former DJ, business consultant, and real estate agent, Shawn Inmon is now a fulltime author. A regular contributor at Indies Unlimited, Inmon can't seem to decide whether to write fiction (Rock'n Roll Heaven), or non-fiction (he’s written two travels books, partially chronicled at his A Lap Around America website). Then there are his first two books that were novels based on truth or fictionalized memoirs or … I don't know what to call them, but they were somewhere in the middle.

Appraisal:

This is the third book in Inmon’s Middle Falls Time Travel series. Each book can be read as a standalone novel because while each of the protagonists spends some time living in the fictional town of Middle Falls, Oregon, knowing what happened in a prior story isn’t needed to follow newer books in the series. The main thing each book has in common is the protagonist dies. Upon his death the character is shocked to discover that they’ve gone back in time, to some point in their childhood. They have the body of a child, but retain memories of the life they led before, which gives some clue as to what might be coming, both for them personally and for the world in general.

The first two stories in the series focused on second chances with the main characters trying to live their lives better the second time around. In one case this was by avoiding a big mistake. In the other it was mainly by trying to prevent someone else from making a major mistake that effected many others.

This installment of the series is different in that Dominick, the protagonist, has only one goal when he starts his life over, to meet and marry his spouse once again. Easy, isn’t it? Just do everything the same as you did the first time around and it should work out fine. But it seems foolish to take the same boring route through life, especially when there is an obvious shortcut to get where you want quicker, right?

The premise of this series makes for some entertaining and thought-provoking stories. As they illustrate, maybe if we had life to live over again, knowing what we know after having learned a thing or two from the school of hard knocks, it may not actually be as easy as we think to get a better result. Just like my rewriting that sentence didn’t result in one that ran on less, sometimes things don’t turn out better, just different.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

This is the third book in Inmon’s Middle Falls Time Travel series. It can be read as a standalone novel.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Review: Traitor’s Ring by Susan Stuckey




Genre: Sword and Sorcery

Description:

Lady Kari Farley has been widowed in the war with the Halurdow and faces a bleak, penniless future. In the nick of time her former lover offers her a future of riches and independence in return for aiding the enemy invaders identify and capture a Guardian of her own people —someone who wields the magic of the Twin Gods. Convincing herself that a peaceful capture with her help is the best that can be hoped for, and looking forward to a life of ease and plenty, Kari accepts. But can the Halurdow and her old lover be trusted?

Author:

Susan Stuckey says of herself (on Facebook) “[I am a] wife, mother, sister, daughter, caretaker of multiple dogs, cats and ferrets ... sometimes writer always a reader. One of these days I will advance into the modern age and convert some of my pictures to digital and have a real "me" for an avatar.” In the meantime her online avatar is a delightful shaggy dog with a quizzical expression.

Appraisal:

Traitor’s Ring, published in July 2018, is around the 20th book in Ms Stuckey Aldura series, others of which have been reviewed here.

Don’t worry if you haven’t read any of the others. Neither have I. The book stands alone well. And if you often pass on fantasy novels because the saga seems to go on forever, be reassured that this adventure is completed in a modest 142 pages.

When we first meet Lady Kari Farley there is a lot of ‘woe is me’ about her. She has been brought up to believe that wealth and position are the only important things in life and has lost both, so she’s in a pretty grumpy place and is hard to warm to. However, as soon as she sets out on her mission to Furster’s Farm she begins to question her life to date and develop as a person. Stuckey keeps the focus on Kari’s mission and the story quickly picks up pace. (I read the final 40% of the book in one go.) The Halurdow invaders are satisfyingly sinister: the invaded Kalieri are much more fey, with a pleasing line in wolf protectors. Jeopardy is plentiful. The ending is satisfying, yet leaves room for a further adventure to take off. If you enjoy this book, there are a further 19 set in the same world to entertain you.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Format/Typo Issues:

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: Judi Moore

Approximate word count: 45-50,000 words

Monday, October 8, 2018

Reprise Review: Initiation by Imogen Rose



Genre: YA/Paranormal

Description:

The first book in Rose’s Bonfire Academy series. This new series ties into the Bonfire Chronicles series, of which Rose has one book thus far, Faustine.

Initiation could be considered a prequel to Faustine as that book takes place after Faustine’s graduation from the Bonfire Academy. This book introduces us to several students, including Faustine, at that exclusive private school for paranormals near St Moritz, in the foothills of the Alps, and takes us through their first year.

Initiation has been picked as a Red Adept Select book. These are books that “stand out from the crowd” among those edited by the team at Red Adept Publishing.

Author:

Globetrotter Imogen Rose is Swedish by birth, went to college in London where she received a PhD in immunology, and is now a Jersey girl. After her eight-year-old daughter insisted she write down her stories, Rose wrote the first of her Portal Chronicles series and decided to let it out into the world. The response was so positive that she’s continued with three books in the series. At least one more planned, and started two other series. For more, visit Rose’s website.

Appraisal:

Think about the average high school, full of hormonal teens pushing all the limits set by those in authority (I had to dig deep into my repressed memory to remember. If I can do it, so can you.). Now give those teens paranormal powers that they are still learning to control (not unlike those hormones in humans). In fact, learning about their just emerging powers — how to control them, and how to put them to the proper use — is the reason the Bonfire Academy exists. With werewolves, vampires, shape shifters, and wanderers, along with various hybrids, life at Bonfire Academy is even more complicated than a regular high school.

Although Initiation focuses on Faustine, who Rose fans will know from the book of the same name, and Cordelia, an older student assigned as Faustine’s mentor, the book has enough other characters who play major roles that it could easily be viewed as an ensemble cast. It appears the Bonfire Academy series will be a prequel to the Bonfire Chronicles series. Those who haven’t read Faustine should have no problem understanding, while those who have will meet a younger, less mature version of Faustine along with an earlier glimpse of a few characters they’ll remember from Faustine.

With Initiation, Rose introduces a series that should be a hit for fans of YA Paranormal (a demographic that seems to include as many adults as teens). She has laid the groundwork for at least two more books in the Bonfire Academy series and the possibility of many more in the Bonfire Chronicles series.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

A small amount of adult language and a small amount of relatively mild sexual content (implied, rather than explicit). Nothing a typical high school student won’t hear in an average school day.

Original review ran November 29, 2011

Format/Typo Issues:

As a beta reader I evaluated based on a pre-publication version and can’t evaluate the final version in this area.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 90-95,000 words

Friday, October 5, 2018

Reprise Review: Ros by Dee DeTarsio



Genre: Chick Lit/Science Fiction

Description:

When a small spacecraft crashes behind her house, the previously bored-with-life Micki Cramer finds a purpose, helping Ros, the alien who was piloting the craft, avoid authorities until Ros’ rescuer arrives. At least they hope a rescuer is on the way.

Author:

A native of Ohio, after college Dee DeTarsio fled for warmer climes, first as a TV news producer in Tucson, Arizona. She now lives in San Diego with her husband and two children, where she has worked as a producer/writer at SeaWorld and on an NBC comedy/variety show.


Appraisal:

Dee DeTarsio may write Chick Lit, but her books are never just that. They always include elements you’d expect in other genres and almost never see in Chick Lit, like action-adventure (which features in both of her books I’ve read) or even a science fiction element, as in the alien this book is named after. These additions are fun and entertaining. They allow DeTarsio to take the story in directions you wouldn’t typically see in Chick Lit.

Pushing the genre boundaries is fun, but what stood out for me in this book was the sense of humor of the main character, Micki. At least in the beginning, she seems to be lacking in self-esteem and is unhappy with life. She lets people run over her which results in her ex-mother-in-law (who is in a mutual-loathing society with Micki) being dumped on her. But Micki’s inner dialogue is always funny and witty, as in this snippet involving Rhoda, her ex-mother-in-law:

“No go,” Rhoda said. “I think there was a murder in that bathroom. Something died in there. I could not use it. I would not go.” And now she’s Dr. Seuss? Could you, would you, in your pants? I wanted to scream.

I found Micki’s “voice” to be unique from that of Julie Fraser (the protagonist in The Scent of Jade, the other book of DeTarsio’s I’ve read), which is something most authors have a hard time doing this well for characters who are so different. If you’re a fan of Chick Lit and not afraid of the boundaries getting stretched a little, the story of Ros would be a perfect choice.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

A single adult word.

Original review ran December 16, 2011

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Review: Revenge Walk by Melissa Bowersock



Genre: Paranormal/Cozy Mystery/Ghosts/Native American

Description:

“Paranormal investigators Sam Firecloud and Lacey Fitzpatrick are preparing for a new venture—launching Sam’s ceramic art studio with an open house. Their plans are suddenly derailed when someone targets Sam with deadly intent. The LAPD are on it, but leads are slim, and meanwhile they have a new haunting to research, one that is threatening small children. Neither investigation gives up clues easily, but Sam and Lacey have to keep working both before someone ends up dead.”

Author:

“Melissa Bowersock is an eclectic, award-winning author who writes in a variety of fiction and non-fiction genres: biography, contemporary, western, action, romance, fantasy, paranormal and spiritual. She has been both traditionally and independently published and is a regular contributor to the superblog Indies Unlimited. She has a tattoo on the inside of her left wrist that says IMAGINE. In her next life, she plans to be an astronaut. She lives in a small community in northern Arizona with her husband and an Airedale terrier. She also writes under the pen name Amber Flame.”

Learn more about Ms. Bowersock and her other books on her website or stalk her on Facebook.

Appraisal:

Sam Firecloud is fully committed to his new business venture to continue his grandfather’s love of making traditional Navajo pottery. Lacey plans an open house to publicly highlight his talented work. During the same time frame Lacey receives a call for help from a new homeowner. They have been co-existing with a mournful ghost, who has recently started to threaten their young daughters.

Both Sam and Lacey feel the ghost terrorizing the children is a top priority. When the first releasement of the sorrowful ghost didn’t release her from the house, Lacey commits to dig deeper into the facts of the case and contact the previous owner’s daughter. I think this is the first time I have seen Sam stumped. Then the open house hits a huge snag with a mystery of its own. It’s amazing to me how Ms. Bowersock seamlessly weaves together these two very different story arcs. The ghost’s story is indeed a grievous situation, which surprisingly comes to a heartfelt ending I didn’t see coming.

While the open house finally happens on schedule, there were some tense news-worthy moments when Sam’s house ghost warns him of impending danger. Sam psychically hones in on the danger and goes after the problem. Shots are fired and Lacey has to shuttle the guests into a safe part of the studio away from the shattered picture window. Sam’s son, Daniel, plays a key role that keeps Lacey from crawling out of her skin.

If you love your mysteries with a paranormal twist and you haven’t started reading this series, you are sorely missing out on some well told, exciting mysteries.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK
  
FYI:

Revenge Walk is book thirteen in Melissa Bowersock’s A LACEY FITZPATRICK and SAM FIRECLOUD MYSYTERY SERIES.

Format/Typo Issues:

I read a beta copy so I’m unable to judge the final product in this area.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 35-40,000 words

Monday, October 1, 2018

Review: Dream Home Dream Life by Reshave Dimri



Genre: Non-Fiction

Description:

According to the description on one on-line retailer this book is “about how to make a self-sustainable and self-reliant house.” The description on Goodreads describes it differently, but also uses verbiage about a self-sustainable and self-reliant house as well as trying to say something about helping the economy, poverty, crime, and other things.

Author:

This is Reshave Dimri’s second of three books currently available. He lives in Delhi, India with his parents and two brothers where he is employed by an IT company.

Appraisal:

This short book has issues. Lots of issues.

While it appears to have been run through a spell checker the syntax is scrambled and the grammar questionable at some point in virtually every paragraph. The purpose of the book was unclear from the description, but once I started reading it made sense for a while. It discusses various techniques and technologies that might be used or are on the verge of becoming available that can make a house more environmentally friendly, cheaper to run and maintain, etc. Just when I thought I understood the book’s scope it started discussing food and health issues. Oh, I guess that’s the “Dream Life” part of the title although it doesn’t get mentioned in the description.

Were it not for difficulty parsing the language the technologies and ideas discussed in the beginning are interesting. I could see this as valuable in giving someone ideas that they could investigate and research elsewhere to get more information. While mentioning solar and wind as a way to generate electricity, the author failed to discuss the potential need for electrical storage using battery banks or other technologies as well as the excessive costs and limitations that might be involved in doing so currently. Some of the ideas and technologies discussed might not be allowed in some areas or countries, but at least those technologies that the fall under the “Dream House” banner are worth knowing about and considering.

As the book progressed it seemed to get less and less focused, jumping around in subjects (going from a chapter on various health subjects to a couple chapters on climate control in your home and then a few chapters later the topic was “Fountain of Youth”). I also found the more I read the more I was questioning the author’s expertise, his sources for the information, and in some cases seriously questioning the information being presented.

Ultimately my conclusion is that even though some of the subjects covered here are worth knowing about, reading Dream Home Dream Life isn’t where I’d recommend going to attempt obtaining that knowledge.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

Atrocious editing and proofing with constant grammar problems, use of the wrong word, etc.

Rating: * One Star

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 15-20,000 words

Friday, September 28, 2018

Review: Three Mean Streets by Frank Tuttle



Genre: Urban Fantasy/Detective/Mystery/Audio Book

Description:

“Welcome to Rannit, an ancient city awash in magic and mayhem. Wracked by war, but embracing the dubious wonders of steam and iron, Rannit is on the path to renewal – but old magics and older shadows won’t go easily into the light.

Markhat earns his living as a finder. On behalf of his clients, Markhat will find anyone, or anything, for a fee. In Three Mean Streets, his clients include a dead man’s ghost, a mighty Troll warrior seeking his cousin’s mounted head, and the true identity of the corpse allegedly stalking the grounds of a rich widow’s mansion.

Markhat doesn’t believe in ghosts and walking corpses, but for twenty crowns a day, plus expenses, he’ll wade in swinging. With the aid of soothsayer and card-reader Mama Hog, Markhat sets out on three perilous cases, and they share only one thing in common – nothing in Rannit is quite what it seems, and sometimes good and dead isn’t good enough.”

Author:

“Frank Tuttle lives and writes in the perpetually humid wilderness of North Mississippi. Frank tried to be a proper Southern author and write about pickups and hound dogs, but trolls and magic kept creeping into his stories, so Frank is a fantasy author. Although hounds do make occasional appearances in his fiction.”

To learn more about Frank Tuttle you can check out his website. However, I suggest following his blog, it is always entertaining.  Of course you may also stalk him on Facebook.

Appraisal:

I don’t generally listen to audio books, I am a visual person and easily distracted. If I am reading a book my eyes are busy with letters strung together into words, punctuation, and spaces. And my mind is immersed in the story. I am not easily distracted when I am focused on a book. However, when Mr. Tuttle offered me his new audio book, Three Mean Streets, with no mention of a review, I thought I would give it a try and refresh my memory from the beginning of The Markhat Files at the same time.

I read these three novellas, long ago before I became a Pal and started reviewing for BigAl’s Books and Pals. I like that The Mister Trophy, Dead Man's Rain, and The Cadaver Client are all together in one volume now. They give the reader or listener a nice introduction to the finder Markhat and his world. He’s plain spoken, fair, easy going, and does all he can to get to the bottom of each case.

I easily became captivated by the voice actor, Conner Goff. He submerged himself into each character he is portraying. This made the stories enjoyable and easy to fall into. Each of the three cases Markhat works to solve are different, with an assortment of unique characters. Mama Hog, the elderly lady who lives a couple of doors down, has the sight and keeps Markhat apprised of things to look out for. She’s a fun character, but is usually all business. Markhat also has a three-legged office cat. He stretched his imagination in naming the cat Three-Legged cat. Markhat doesn’t joke around, the world he lives in is unforgiving and they had better adhere to the curfew if they want to live till the next day. The undead roam the streets at night looking for a meal. Death wagons patrol, picking up the bodies of those who violated the curfew.

I did enjoy the audio book experience, but I’m not ready to give up reading on my Kindle Paperwhite just yet. If you enjoy noir detective stories with a no frills type detective who is willing to eat his words if necessary, you should give Markhat a try. I highly recommend the whole series.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK
  
FYI:

Three Mean Streets is book 1 in Mr. Tuttle’s, The Markhat Files. My review is for the audio book.

The three Markhat adventures in Three Mean Streets were originally published under the title The Markhat Files. The stories included are The Mister Trophy, Dead Man's Rain, and The Cadaver Client. If you have previously purchased The Markhat Files with the titles stated, you already own these, so you don’t need to purchase them again.

Format/Typo Issues:

I listened to the audio book and didn’t notice any issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate audio book length: 5 hours and 41 mins

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Review: Incognito by Khaled Talib



Genre: Thriller

Description:

Here is some of what is posted on Amazon about this book: “Pope Gregoire XVII was last seen waving to the crowd at Saint Peter's square from the famous Apostolic Palace window. Despite several layers of tight security, neither the Gendarmerie nor The Entity (the Vatican's secret service) or the Swiss Guards claimed to know anything about his sudden mysterious disappearance… Ayden Tanner, a former British SAS commando officer -- who is officially dead -- is dispatched with two other crew members to find the Supreme Pontiff by The League of Invisible Knights, a covert division of Anonymous that aims to bring about the triumph of good over evil.” Great premise! (BTW: other readers may be puzzled, as I was, by references to the ‘Gendarmerie’. This is the Vatican’s police force.)

Author:

Khaled Talib has worked in journalism and in public relations. He has written three novels since 2014 – Smokescreen, Incognito and Gun Kiss. He is a member of the Crime Writers Association and International Thriller Writers. He lives in Singapore.

Appraisal:

The puffs for this book claim kinship with the likes of Dan Brown and Robert Harris. That’s a broad church. And a big claim. Talib knows (as all good writers need to) a little bit about a lot of things. I enjoyed much of the material about the Vatican, the information about Turkey and Egypt, and about recent European politics (although I was puzzled to find reference to Italian ‘lire’ since Italy has been using the Euro since 1999). There is a definite ‘Mission Impossible’ vibe, as well as a substantial nod to our old friends the Knights Templar.

This is, at bottom, a story about fake news. Very topical. The Prologue sets the scene beautifully. The prose in it is taut and lyrical. The necessary backstory is laid before the reader. Now the story can hit the ground running …

There is plenty of action in the book. Fights abound. It is a teeny spoiler to let on that our protagonist and his ‘crew’ are ambushed so many times that one begins to wonder just how good they are at what they do.

I found it peculiar that, despite all the action, no progress seemed to be made with finding the kidnapped Pope for the first third of the book.

I also found the swathes of description and backstory (what does Maria have to do with anything?) slowed pace and made it difficult to follow the machinations of the large cast of characters as they whizzed about Europe from Geneva to Rome to Istanbul to the Sinai Desert.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: *** Three Stars

Reviewed by: Judi Moore

Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words