Friday, July 28, 2023

Review: Alpha by Stephen L. Brayton

 Genre: Mystery/Action-Thriller


“How well do we ever know anyone? Even someone we might be falling in love with…

On a rainy October morning, Mallory Petersen, private detective and martial artist, discovers the corpse of her boyfriend, Bobby Furillo, in front of her office in Des Moines, Iowa.

Bucking police authority and continually attacked by unknown adversaries, Mallory discovers Bobby’s devastating secrets. Each new revelation puts Mallory in deeper peril from powerful and dangerous people, but she won’t stop until she learns the truth.”


“Stephen L. Brayton is a Sixth Degree Black Belt and certified instructor with over 30 years experience in The American Taekwondo Association.

He began writing as a child; his first short story concerned a true incident about his reactions to discipline. During high school, he wrote for the school newspaper and was a photographer for the yearbook. For a Mass Media class, he wrote and edited a video project.

In college, he began a personal journal for a writing class; said journal is ongoing. He was also a reporter for the college newspaper.

During his early twenties, while working for a Kewanee, Illinois radio station, he wrote a fantasy based story and a trilogy for a comic book.

He has been involved broadcasting, trucking, hospitality, newspaper graphic design, and a pre-press camera operator at a publishing company.

He has written numerous short stories both horror and mystery.”


This is an interesting story and is structured in an interesting way. The “interesting way” it is structured is that it switches back and forth between two times, one that it calls “now” and the other “then.” We start the story in the “now” time with Mallory, our protagonist who is a private investigator and martial arts instructor, getting asked a question by Lawrence, Mallory’s current boyfriend. Lawrence is a police officer from a city a couple hours away from where Mallory lives and is spending a weekend at her place. The question Lawrence asks is “tell me a story about one of your toughest cases.” Mallory does and oh, what a story it is. The story switches to “then” (some period in the past when this case was happening) and Mallory begins to tell Lawrence about the case that starts when she discovers the corpse of her then boyfriend in front of her office.

The story goes back and forth between then and now with Lawrence and Mallory getting to know each other better in the “now” while their discussion provides a bit of foreshadowing in a unique way for the “then” part of the story, which is where Mallory tells the full story of what the police and Mallory, who does her own investigation, find while searching for the person responsible for her boyfriend’s death. What Mallory finds is a lot of things she’d have never guessed and a lot more involved than anyone would have anticipated. It’s an intense story, only made more so by Mallory often getting into situations that require her martial arts skills to get through them relatively unscathed.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK


Some adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

Review is based on an ARC (advanced review copy) so I can’t gauge the final product in this area.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words

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