Friday, May 7, 2021

Reprise Review: Dies Irae by BV Lawson


Genre: Mystery


In the third book featuring investigator Scott Drayco, music majors are murdered at a prestigious private college. The killer leaves taunting clues in the form of complex music puzzles.


“Author, poet, and journalist BV Lawson's award-winning stories, poems and articles have appeared in dozens of national and regional publications and anthologies. A four-time Derringer Award finalist and 2012 winner for her short fiction, BV was also honored by the American Independent Writers and Maryland Writers Association for her Scott Drayco series.”

For more, visit her website.


BV Lawson has created a memorable character in Drayco, a concert pianist turned FBI agent, turned crime consultant. He also has the fascinating condition of synesthesia, which not only adds a mysterious depth to his character it is integral to the plot. (Synesthesia: a sensation produced in one modality when a stimulus is applied to another modality, as when the hearing of a certain sound induces the visualization of a certain color. --

The investigation moves through a fairly complex story line and an extensive group of characters, which requires alertness on the part of the reader. Lawson, however, makes the effort enjoyable as she gives each character his or her own voice and plenty of idiosyncrasies. She also weaves in interesting facts from obscure medical conditions, to religions, to musical history, some of which sent me to the Internet for more information. Among the most fascinating was Olivier Messiaen, whose work the musical puzzles were based on.

The story starts with the murder of a promising singer. A second murder and an abduction keeps the tension high as an FBI agent working with Drayco fears for his own daughter's safety.

For a who-done-it, the culprit is almost too carefully hidden. While there are some faint clues toward the climax, the hunt evolves mostly through a process of elimination. Even so, anyone clever enough to guess the killer is still in for a satisfying surprise.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK


The first victim is a petit woman, and there is a statement that her body should contain six liters of blood. That sounded like far too much. An extensive Internet check indicates calculating the amount is an inexact science, but there are several references to the average volume for a 150 pound man being around 5 to 5.5 liters. It isn’t that relevant to the story but as a retired financial journalist, I remain paranoid about not flagging a possible numerical error. Original review ran January 3, 2016

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: Sam Waite

Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Review: Intimate Relations by Rebecca Forster


Genre: Mystery/Police Procedural


“A woman in a window. A cop out of his element. A crime of unimaginable passion.

It's two in the morning when a domestic disturbance brings Finn O'Brien to an artists' colony on the frayed edges of the City of Angels. Housed in an abandoned brewery, the concrete fortress looms like a dystopian portal to hell. Inside the detective finds a bizarre gathering of Los Angeles elites, a man in a rage, and a young woman beaten to death, her face obliterated.

As he hunts a killer, Finn finds himself in a surreal world where art and science create strange bedfellows, money and desire birth shameful descendants, and the deadliest relationships of all are the most intimate.”


The author of numerous thrillers in multiple subgenres, USA Today bestseller Rebecca Forster lives in Los Angeles with her husband.


This is the fourth book in the Finn O’Brien series featuring detective O’Brien and his partner, Detective Cori Anderson. As with the prior books, the characters, both O’Brian and Anderson as well as those they interact with, kept me entertained. The mystery of the case they were working on kept me coming back. There were so many ways this case could go, which kept me guessing like a mystery should do.

This story has some differences from the prior books in the series that served to mix things up a bit. One of those is that O’Brien and Anderson who normally are assigned to the Wilshire division of the Los Angeles Police Department have been loaned temporarily to the East L.A. division. Even people like me with a minimal knowledge of Los Angeles understand that this is a significant change in their work environment, from the upscale area bordering Beverly Hills to the exact opposite. Throw in the normal difficulties of working with a new and different boss and it is bad enough. Then they get assigned to what develops into a big complicated murder case and it turns out that Finn’s ex-wife is possibly involved in some way. She’s definitely involved with the people connected to the murder. The result is an entertaining and suspenseful detective mystery that fans of such stories will definitely enjoy.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK


This is book 4 of Forster’s Finn O’Brien series. Each book stands alone, so no concern if you haven’t read the previous books. There are definitely adult themes happening in this story, but in spite of that it was never especially explicit.

Format/Typo Issues:

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

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 80-85,000 word

Monday, May 3, 2021

Review: Who Let the Demon Out? by Naomi Bellina


Genre: Urban Fantasy/Contemporary/Dark comedy


“Not only is her suicide attempt thwarted by a stranger, but when she comes back from the dead, Sable is tasked by Lucifer to find and return to hell a demon she let loose. If she doesn't, she'll be sent to the darkest level of the afterlife when she dies.

The woman Jack pulled from a running car is obviously disturbed and her story about Lucifer and demons is bullshit. But she has the name of a dead man written on her arm and Jack wants to know why.

Since it's Jack's fault she's in this mess and his skills from a background in the security business are useful, Sable recruits him for her find-the-demon mission, which turns out to be all kinds of difficult. Not only can demons inhabit human bodies, they have other nasty tricks up their sleeves, like incinerating objects and people who get in their way.

It also turns out the inhabitants of hell lie and that things on Earth are not what they appear. Nor are things in her own world, Sable discovers, as she battles to complete her mission before time runs out and it's impossible to send the demon back.”


“Naomi Bellina lives in sunny Florida with the love of her life and the world's chattiest cat. She became a romance author because her characters insist on falling madly in love. So she lets them. She writes romantic suspense, light science fiction, and paranormal romance. Her interests include dancing, motorcycle riding, drumming and creating healthy meals. Her motto: Never pass up the opportunity to have an adventure!”

To learn more visit Ms. Bellina at her website or follow her onFacebook.


Sable, riddled with guilt from a dark secret in her past, decides the world would be a better place without her. Jack, a tow-truck driver, sees a car running in an abandoned parking lot off the beaten path and pulls her out of her car. He is able to resuscitate her. As her life force returns to her body a demon catches a ride on Sable’s tailwind right back to earth, and he has an agenda.

When Indignus (Iggy), a dark angel, appears to Sable he tasks her to send the demon back to hell where he belongs. The trouble is demons and dark angels lie. I think Iggy just wanted to go back to the bar for a few more drinks, so he told Sable it was her responsibility to send the demon back. It also turns out that demons have a few tricks up their sleeves that are quite deadly. Since Sable figures she wouldn’t be in this mess if Jack hadn’t brought her back from the dead she recruits him to help her complete her mission. Jack is a good man and has some handy skills he is able to utilize in the demon hunting mission which I found a bit too convenient. Sable is smart, has a good heart, but is a little slow on the uptake.

After a wordy, bumpy start Ms. Bellina settles into a nice pace, aside from a few spots I would have liked more detailed information about, which would have added more depth to the story. Sable and Jack’s characters did show growth at the end, but I didn’t consider either of them badass. Perhaps the demons are the badasses, because the one in this book was. However, that is not the way I read the series title: Badass Demon Bounty Hunters.

If you are looking for a darkly humorous Urban Fantasy with a unique storyline and diverse characters you may enjoy Who Let the Demon Out?.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK


*** TRIGGER WARNING *** This book begins with a failed suicide attempt. Also be prepared for adult language and several F-bombs.

Who Let the Demon Out? Is book 1 in Naomi Bellina’s, Badass Demon Bounty Hunters series. 

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 40-45,000 words