Friday, September 20, 2019

Reprise Review: Long Way Down by Tony Black



Genre: Crime/Noir

Description:

Gus Dury is a down at heel ex-reporter with a dark past. He’s kicking his heels in life when Danny Murray, a runner for local gang boss Boaby ‘Shaky’ Stevens, asks Gus to do a job for him – find an old friend, Barry Fulton. Gus is reluctant, but £3,000 helps sweeten the deal. Gus quickly learns Barry has got involved with Irish gangsters encroaching onto Shaky’s patch and, unless he finds him soon, someone’s going to end up dead.

This standalone novella is part of Black’s Gus Dury series, the other four (Paying For It, Gutted, Loss, and Long Time Dead) are full length novels.

Author:

Tony Black is an award winning national journalist who covered a diverse range of stories from crime to nightclub reviews. Tony then moved into writing crime novels, with nine now published to critical acclaim.

More information can be found about Tony Black on his website.

Appraisal:

Long Way Down is a gem of a story. It’s theoretically a quick read, however I found myself spending a lot longer than normal with it simply because I wanted to stay immersed in the prose. This was a challenge because the action starts on the first page, when Danny steps into Gus’s sphere, and doesn’t let up.

The characters are very strong, Gus himself clearly has a deep background with references made to a difficult upbringing. He drinks, swears, fights – not someone you’d want your daughter to bring home. But he’s resolute, loyal, tough – someone you’d want at your back. The supporting cast of (few) friends and (many) enemies are equally entertaining – Gus mixes with some dubious company. A particular favourite is Mac the Knife, a man not to be messed with.

The dialogue is sharp and at times witty, despite the gritty and grimly sharp Edinburgh location which, is excellently described with a minimum of carefully chosen words and some local vernacular. For example:

The bar was dark, dingy. In days gone past there’d have been a pall of grey smoke you’d struggle to shine headlamps through. Now the nicotine-stained walls and ceiling looked painfully over-exposed – the woodchip papering would turn to writhing maggots after a few scoops.

And another:

I picked out the smell of p*ss and sickly-sweet Buckfast mingling on the grimy stairwell. Some of the young crew had been in to tag the walls since my last visit, and despite being a respecter of the creative urge I couldn’t help but think their efforts sucked balls. Right into a hernia.

The only ‘disappointment’ with Long Way Down? I finished it too quickly! Top drawer noir.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Frequent strong language.

Added for Reprise Review: Long Way Down by Tony Black was a nominee in the Thriller/Suspense category for B&P 2013 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran January 13, 2013.

Format/Typo Issues:

None.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Approximate word count: 10-15,000 words

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Review: Good Morning, Mr. Dalton by Ana Shapkaliska




Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Description:

“This is a contemporary story about Dafina, an attractive woman in her forties, who works in the family car service business in Cary, North Carolina. She drives clients to and from the Raleigh airport, many of whom are business executives and socialites. That’s her daytime job. At night she works on her stories, dreams to get her breakthrough as a writer, and relocate to New York.

The relationship with her husband is not what she had hoped for when she moved from Europe. She jokes that they became like roommates and business partners. Clash of the cultures, money struggles and never ending harassment from his ex-family takes a toll on their relationship. She feels suffocated and isolated in Cary, and needs a drastic change in order to survive. When it looks like there is no way out, she meets Mr. Dalton, a unique man. He is smart, sexy, successful and married with three kids. That doesn’t stop them to fall hard for each other. He is the wind under her wings, and with him by her side she can move mountains and make all her dreams come true.”

Author:

Ana Shapkaliska is originally from Macedonia, a country in southern Europe (formerly a part of Yugoslavia). She lives with her husband in North Carolina. 

For more, visit her website.

Appraisal:

This novella is the first release from this author and, at least in some regards, if you compare it to the author’s biography it appears to follow the cliché that a first novel is autobiographical, at least at a high level. The main character, Dafina, and the author are both originally from Macedonia, are married, and live in North Carolina as well as being writers. Beyond this, I’ll assume Dafina’s life is different than Ms Shapkaliska’s.

Dafina is unhappy for many reasons. As the story explains, she finds some degree of happiness along with the encouragement and support she’s lacking from her husband in the arms of Mr Dalton, one of her clients.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Some adult language and mild adult content.

Format/Typo Issues:

The version of the book I received for review was prior to release of the book, making it an advance reader copy. I don’t know if additional proofreading was going to be done to it prior to publication or not. I noticed a small number of proofing issues. If I ignore one issue, these weren’t numerous enough for me to lower the ranking I give the book. However, were it not possible that the issue had been taken care of prior to release I would have dropped the rating by one star due to an issue the author appears to have of using take instead of bring and vis versa. I noticed this issue many times throughout the book.


Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 35-40,000 words

Monday, September 16, 2019

Review: Special Investigative Reporter by Malcolm R. Campbell



Genre: Satire/Fiction/Mystery

Description:

“In this satirical and somewhat insane lament about the fall of traditional journalism into an abyss of news without facts, Special Investigative Reporter Jock Stewart specializes in tracking down Junction City’s inept and corrupt movers and shakers for his newspaper The Star-Gazer. Since Stewart is not a team player, he doesn’t trust anyone, especially colleagues and news sources. Stewart, who became a reporter back in the days when real newsmen were supposed to smoke and drink themselves to death while fighting to get the scoop before their competition sobered up, isn’t about to change. Stewart’s girlfriend leaves him, the mayor’s racehorse is stolen, people are having sex in all the wrong places (whatever that means), and townspeople have fallen into the habit of sneaking around and lying to reporters and cops. Sure, everyone lies to the cops, but reporters expect gospel truths or else. Stewart may get himself killed doing what he was taught to do in journalism school, but that’s all in a day’s work.”

Author:

“Malcolm R. Campbell is an author of magical realism and fantasy... He previously worked as an insurance company's training materials designer, a police management school's course materials developer, a mental health department unit manager, a technical writer, a grant writer, a corporate communications director, a railway museum's volunteer collections manager, and a college journalism instructor.

His fantasy novels were inspired by Glacier Park Montana where he worked as a bellman and from a tour of duty aboard an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War. He grew up in the Florida Panhandle, a wondrous place often called ‘the other Florida’ and ‘the forgotten coast,’ that was the perfect environment for growing up and learning about writing and magical realism. Campbell lives on a north Georgia farm with his wife, Lesa, and their two cats.”

To learn more you can follow his blog or his Facebook page.

Appraisal:

Jock Stewart is an old school newspaper journalist. When a crime is committed he goes out looking for the truth. And the whole town seems to be suspect. To top that off Jock is having woman problems. Jock is a wise-cracking, smart ass, full of sarcasm but relatively comfortable in his own skin. Except where women are concerned. There he seems clueless and second guesses himself. The plot is twisty curvy, like the women in Jock’s life. Jock’s internal dialogue and narration gives the book a noir feel.

The important characters are well rounded. Like the donut eating sheriff whose name happens to be Kruller. There are some minor characters who are stereotypical of small town’s low-life that add humor to the story. At times the sheriff and his deputies seem inept. And the newspaper’s upper management is losing its sanity, or is it a ploy to save their necks? No one seems to like the idea of taking the paper into the digital age.

Here’s a sample of Jock’s clever dialogue. The deputy was explaining how they arrested one of the suspects:

“That son of a bitch had fallen asleep in the can with his .38 lying in the sink.” “What was it lying about?” asked Jock.

Then later in the book some of Jock’s inner dialogue:

Jock had never heard Marta gush before and found the sound rather unsettling like a stopped up toilet overflowing.

It’s a fun story with a clever plot, full of red herrings to keep you guessing. And a bit of romance to boot!

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK
  
FYI:

Sex is behind closed doors, and some adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number of proofing issues

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words

Friday, September 13, 2019

Reprise Review: Mormon Diaries by Sophia L. Stone


Genre: Memoir

Description:

“Brought up in a religious home, Sophia believes the only way to have a forever family is by following church leaders and obediently choosing the right. She goes to the right school, marries the right man in the right place, and does the right thing by staying home to raise her children. But when she starts asking questions about grace, love, and the nature of God, she realizes her spiritual struggles could rip her family apart.”

Author:

Sophia L. Stone is describes herself as a seeker, learner, reader, and nature lover. You can follow her on twitter where she’ll happily answer your questions on Mormonism.

Appraisal:

Although well done, my initial thought about Mormon Diaries was that its appeal would be limited to a small niche of readers, possibly just those Mormon women who have had a crisis of faith and want to know that they aren’t alone.

However, upon reflection, I realized I’d sold the book short. I remembered reading the now out-of-print Housewife to Heretic by Sonia Johnson more than twenty years ago and the impact it had on my thoughts on what it was like to be a female Mormon. I never looked at my Mother or the upbringing my sisters had in the same light again. The appeal shouldn’t be limited to women; there is something here for current or ex-Mormon men too. Even non-Mormons who are interested because they have Mormon neighbors, or anyone interested in the different faces of spirituality, would get something out of Mormon Diaries. With the focus this often-misunderstood religion is getting during the current presidential campaign in the US, there may be a lot more potential readers than I thought. Not that a large potential readership matters. That’s one of the great things about indie publishing: it gives even a book with a small potential readership a chance to find its audience.

I can’t help comparing Mormon Diaries with Housewife to Heretic (or at least my possibly faulty memories of it). Stone does an excellent job of communicating what it is like to be a Mormon, specifically a female Mormon, but does this in a way that, while pulling no punches, is also not overtly political or as likely to offend devout, yet open-minded, Mormons as Johnson’s book would have. She captures the dynamics of Mormonism and how family, friends, other church members, and leaders influence those within the faith. Whether you’re a Mormon or an ex-Mormon, wanting to compare notes, or someone who would like to understand Mormonism better, Mormon Diaries is a good place to start.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Added for Reprise Review: Mormon Diaries by Sophia L. Stone was a nominee in the Memoir category for B&P 2013 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran October 2, 2012

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 35-40,000 words

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Review: The Trump Diary Reported by Mookie Goldwater by Chris Murphy



Genre: Satire

Description:

“In early June 2017, about a week before fired FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Sub-Committee, President Donald Trump decided to start a daily diary. He did this to keep a tally of his accomplishments and to have a truthful recounting of his administration, untouched by the FAKE NEWS Media. President Trump knew that future historians would have a keen interest. After he made an entry, he would hide the diary in his sock drawer. One morning it was gone…

Starting with a late night surreptitious phone call and a mysterious midnight dead-drop, I have come into the possession of this daily diary. After having worked in the media for the last thirty years, I now live under an assumed name and have left my job and family and move constantly, trying to dodge CIA operatives, FBI agents and guys with too many bumper stickers on their car.”

Author:

Chris Murphy is the author of one other book thus far, The Basquiat Bounce.

Appraisal:

I don’t remember the last time I was this torn about a book review. Part of me argues for a three-star rating, but the devil on my shoulder is pushing for four stars. (Or maybe the devil is the first guy. I just don’t know.) I’ll give you both sides of the story and you can decide.

First, if you’re a fan of the current occupant of the Oval Office, you’re not likely to enjoy this book. There is no point in reading more. That leaves two groups, those who are very much not fans and those who don’t pay attention to politics and have no opinion. If you’re in the second of these groups, if you really don’t pay attention, you won’t recognize what is being satirized in the book and won’t get it. This book isn’t for you either. For the non-fans, we’ll continue.

Typically, when I see as many instances of grammar, spelling issues, and typos as I saw in this book it would automatically drop my ranking to 3 stars or less. Examples of these things are using the word “summery” instead of “summary” or using the name Stormy Davis when it was obviously referring to Stormy Daniels. Another that made me laugh was when Trump, referring to Tucker Carlson, says that America needs his “clear voice and razor sharp incite.” That’s funny because there are some who feel that Carlson does incite, even if they don’t think much of his insight. I’m inclined to think the author made that last typo on purpose, whether it was because Carlson incites people, or just because he’s read Trump’s Twitter feed and listened to his speeches and knows how seldom he creates a string of grammatically correct English. I ultimately came to the conclusion that the majority of proofreading type issues in this book were done on purpose. If I read a typo free book that claimed to be Trump’s diary, it would lose all credibility in my mind. The typos have to be there and thus, I can’t drop the rating because of typos.

This aims to be satirical and it hits the target in that regard, more or less. The Oxford Dictionary defines satire as “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.” This fits that, to a point. There is a meme I’ve seen on Facebook that says the satirical website “The Onion” is on the edge of collapse because they’ve reached the point of not being able to make up things that are more idiotic than current reality. I think there’s something to that. The ridicule and exposing of stupidity mentioned in the definition is there, but too much of it felt real and not all that humorous because it didn’t seem to be exaggerating much. But if it had exaggerated much more, it wouldn’t have seemed credible. (Much of the actual reality doesn’t even seem credible.)

However, knowing that what I was reading wasn’t true, I still found myself laughing, happy to know that what was claimed didn’t really happen, although I couldn’t rule it out happening in the near future. In a small dose, it was still entertaining. But it kept going on and on. More than 120,000 words worth. This meant the same jokes or twists kept getting repeated, over and over. What was funny the first or second time was just a drag by the time the same twist of reality had been repeated five or ten times. A book half as long would have been twice as good. My advice, if this appeals to you, read it until it gets old, then toss it in the corner for six months or a year, then pick it up again. Hopefully by then it will be old news and funny again.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Some adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

See discussion in the appraisal.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 120-125,000 words

Monday, September 9, 2019

Review: Captive by Jennifer Reynolds




Genre: Contemporary/Urban Fantasy/Paranormal/Erotic Romance

Description:

“The loss of a job, her husband, her home, and her quiet life has Talia dreaming of a life she’s only read about in paranormal romance novels.

An inherent need to find his mate and settle down has werecoyote Bane hoping that the human who’s just entered his life is the one for him.

Peace is all Casen, the king of the werewolves, wants but with half his pack yearning to be the warring pack they once were, he’s sure it won’t come in his lifetime.

Max is determined that the war between his people and the coyotes continues even if it means kidnapping and torturing a group of coyotes and the human with them to make it happen.

The Fates, on the other hand, have their own agenda for these four, and their desires are all that matter.”

Author:

“Jennifer Reynolds is a native of North Alabama. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree from National University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Alabama.

She is a multi-genre author who focuses mostly on post-apocalyptic novels with plagues and zombies as their source of destruction and paranormal romances, especially shifters, weres, and ghosts. She does occasionally dabble in other genres such as general fiction, horror, and suspense thrillers.

When she’s not writing, she’s a full-time caregiver of her elderly in-laws, a stay at home wife, an avid reader, and the mother of two kitties, Lilith and Midnight.”

To learn more please visit her website or like her Facebook page.

Appraisal:

Talia has had a pretty rough year, losing her job, her boyfriend, and her home. She now has a job as an assistant for one of her best friends who happens to be a successful supernatural romance author, Destiny LeShae. Destiny has agreed with her publisher to help spearhead a project to help integrate the shifter world with the human world by writing some creative non-fiction pieces. The idea is all part of the supernatural community’s PR plan to ease their integration into the human world. Destiny sends Talia to gather research first hand.

This fantasy world is similar to our own and the werecoyotes are the most sociable. Since it is unlawful for Talia to be on any were-land, she needs to be escorted. Bane is assigned to Talia and his sister, Carla, is hosting Talia’s stay. Their parents are the rulers of this area’s werecoyote pack. Things are a little bumpy at first, but then goes along as planned until Talia wishes to see this magical waterfall she has heard about. The waterfall does have some sort of magical influence over Talia the others do not feel, and she is inexplicitly drawn towards the forest line, which leads to the wolf territory.

This is where the plot splits into two story arcs, the werecoyote and the werewolf. This is also where Ms. Reynolds breaks from the normal story tropes, applying her own influences to her supernatural world. The plot twists and turns as things go from bad to worse. The characters are well defined and unique. There are times when Talia wore on my nerves a bit, but she is a human thrown into unfamiliar territory with both the werecoyote and the werewolf worlds concerning the warring factions of both packs. There are plenty of blood and guts to keep the tension high. The alpha males from both packs also butt heads and growl their fair share to protect Talia.

I enjoyed the story despite Talia’s TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) moments. I do love Ms. Reynolds fresh take with her supernatural characters.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK
  
FYI:

Captive is book 3 in Jennifer Reynolds SUPERNATURALS series. Captive contains explicit sex and several F-bombs. All three books in this series are standalone novels.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues, aside from some repetitiousness, that could be trimmed 
out.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 90-95,000 words

Friday, September 6, 2019

Review: How the World Ends (Book Three) by Rudolf Kerkhoven



Genre: Post-Apocalyptic/Science Fiction

Description:

“Beginning five years after the events of Book Two, the conclusion to How the World Ends follows Caleb as he wrestles not only with his past, but with this new world, its changing climate, and the few survivors that remain.   Humanity once believed that it was made in God's image, but those who persevered are left to scavenge like insects.  Yet there might still be hope for Caleb--and if there is hope for Caleb, then there is hope for us all.”

Author:

The author of several novels, plus the co-author with Daniel Pitts of several choose-your-own-adventure books, Rudolf Kerkhoven lives in the Vancouver, British Columbia area.

For more, visit his website.

Appraisal:

At the beginning of the first book in this series something happens (you’ll have to read the first book for the whole story) and the vast majority of the people in the world end up dead. The story of the series revolves around the survivors figuring out how the new, changed world is different and what they need to do to survive, at least in the short term. This book picks up where the last one ended, focusing mostly on Caleb, who was only a kid when the world (more or less) ended and is now maturing. He’s presented with some issues that force him to consider his and the world’s long-term prognosis. As Caleb struggles with expectations of others that he isn’t sure he agrees with, he is forced to consider some deep philosophical questions. (The reader should find him or herself pondering along with Caleb.)

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Some adult language and mild adult themes.
The third book in a series. While it could be read as a standalone, understanding what came before adds to the reader’s understanding.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Reprise Review: Dinner at Deadman's by C.J. West



Genre: Mystery

Description:

“Lorado Martin has loved junk since his grandparents took him bottle digging in the backwoods of New England when he was a boy. The search for antiques and collectibles led him to a unique hobby: digging through the estates of the newly deceased, arranging the sale of goods for the heirs, and keeping the leftovers for himself.

To make a living, he builds and maintains housing for recovering addicts and along the way he’s employed a number of his clients. The men wrestle with the siren call of drugs and teach Lorado about the difficult struggle to stay clean one day at a time.

When these two worlds come together, Lorado learns that not every elderly person dies of natural causes and that some estates are sold to benefit a killer. His latest project hits close to home. A woman he’s known since childhood haunts him from a fresh grave. Her grandson, an affable addict who has fallen off the wagon, stands to inherit a considerable sum whether he deserves it or not.”

Author:

“C.J. West is the author of seven suspense novels including The End of Marking Time and Sin and Vengeance, which was optioned into development for film by Beantown Productions, LLC (screenplay by Marla Cukor). “

For more, visit C.J.’s website.

Appraisal:

Although Dinner at Deadman’s is a mystery, with all the components of a good one — plenty of viable suspects and a storyline that keeps you guessing as the clues are uncovered — what stood out for me were the characters. All of them are, in a word, characters. The major characters all have their own unique personalities and quirks that shine through and make them real. It appears that this might be the first of a series and, if my guess is right, it bodes well.

The protagonist, Lorado Martin, might be the quirkiest of them all. Lorado is a mountain of a man (which is a nice way of saying he’s both tall and could stand to lose a few pounds) who everyone recognizes from his trademark cowboy hat which wouldn’t set him apart in Fort Worth, but sure does in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Reading Dinner at Deadman’s on the heels of a contentious political season in the U.S. in which I spent way too much time pigeonholing everyone as liberal or conservative, Lorado seemed to be suffering from bipolar political disorder. His major source of income — refurbishing rundown buildings in marginal areas of town, financed by government grants, which are used for subsidized public housing, halfway houses, and other services for society’s downtrodden — shows his do-gooder liberal side. That he does this by hiring hopefully reformed drug addicts, even though that ends up making him less money, only reinforces that perception. However, his more conservative side views his do-gooding as a lost cause, helping people who he often sees as society’s moochers and takers. This struggle within Lorado’s mind, which is something he’s well aware of, adds depth to his character and also makes him a touch unpredictable, which I think is a good thing in a mystery. Hopefully we’ll see more books with Lorado in the future.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Some adult language.

Added for Reprise Review: Dinner at Deadman's by C.J. West was a WINNER in the Mystery category for B&P 2013 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran December 6, 2012.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 90-95,000 words

Monday, September 2, 2019

Review: Wild Blue Yonder by Jack B Rochester



Genre: Rite of passage

Description:

The ‘Zons say this of Wild Blue Yonder“over 650 Vietnam War novels have been published, mostly dark tales from the war zone. In Wild Blue Yonder, Airman Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers goes not to Vietnam but Germany, straight into a military Catch-22. His assignment: writing stories for the Stars and Stripes newspaper that will never see print. Nate's adventure deepens as he and his fellow troops try to understand why they're there, the military mindset, and the massive social disruption roiling 1960's America.

“Existential, psychedelic, funny, and laced with rock 'n' roll, Wild Blue Yonder is the story of Nate's quest for personal and spiritual values while trying to learn the meaning of family, friendship, and the love of the girl he left behind.”
I take issue with the comparison to Catch 22 for a number of reasons, which boil down to the fact that the USAF boys in the book are not in a war zone. Catch 22 was the Catch that was going to kill you. These boys are in no danger whatsoever.

Nor am I sure that The Doors, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Steve Miller Band, Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix et al which are so important to the book (not to mention classical music, blues and jazz) really count as ‘rock ‘n’ roll’. Seminal music, taking off from rock and roll and going places never explored before: yes. Rock ‘n’ roll: not really. But the book certainly does explore the mind-expanding music that came out in 1966-68.

Author:

Jack B. Rochester has worked in publishing his entire career as an editor, publisher and writer. He's written 12 works of nonfiction, including The Naked Computer and Pirates of the Digital Millennium , hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, and short stories and poetry for literary magazines. He is the founding barista of www.fictionalcafe.com, a popular arts and coffee hangout. Wild Blue Yonder, his first novel, was self-published in 2011. The sequels, Madrone and Anarchy are published by Wheatmark.

Rochester earned his Master's degree in comparative literature from California State University at Sonoma, where he sponsors an annual scholarship for students who aspire to a career in writing. He was raised in South Dakota and Wyoming, lived many years in California, and today shares his time between Lexington, Massachusetts; Titusville, Florida; and Châteaulin, France. No moss grows under his feet. 

Appraisal:

I have been a bit curmudgeonly about the claims made for this book above. So what is good about it?

It follows a rudderless young man through the three febrile years 1966, 1967 and 1968. For those of you doing the math on your fingers that was 50+ years ago. The summer of love was in 1967. US troops were first sent to Vietnam in 1965 and by 1966 a young man could be drafted to serve there for two years, unless he made other arrangements with the military (volunteering to serve elsewhere). Martin Luther King Jnr was assassinated in April and Bobby Kennedy in June 1968.

Still grieving for his recently deceased father, Nate volunteers for the USAF, gets sent to Germany, and two years later is disgorged back into civilian life. The book embraces the discoveries you rather hope a young man with an open mind would make: the music, the books, the zeitgeist, the searching for meaning in life.

The book reads like a memoir. Nor is there a whole lot of story. Of course, any book dealing with the military not in a combat situation is going to have a lot of ‘hurry up and wait’ in it. But there are a number of fascinating episodes (‘the grandes dames’ are not to be missed).

Industrial quantities of marijuana are consumed during the course of the book. Some LSD is dropped. Nobody has any trouble procuring this stuff, nobody is arrested for possessing or supplying it, none of their superiors ever notice they are stoned, and the narrator never buys any of it (except $2 for an LSD-laced sugar cube). Halcyon days!

The little group of GIs spend their time in their USAF backwater, almost entirely dependent on each other, trying to find themselves. They know very little about current US or German politics. They have very little German between them. And the only access to English-language newspapers they have is the military’s Stars and Stripes, which carries nothing controversial about the Vietnam War, nor anything else happening back home. So, the group mark time, looking inward, playing the latest music and smoking a LOT of dope.

If you want to know what those days were like, this is a good and accurate place to start. Except, possibly, for the quantities of dope.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI: 

Plenty of bad language, but surprisingly little sex.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: Judi Moore

Approximate word count: 105-110,000 words