Saturday, August 6, 2022

Review: Distant Relations by Rebecca Forster

 Genre: Crime Fiction/Thriller/Suspense


“A private plane explodes killing Finn's estranged uncle and his childhood love. Coming to grips with the tragedy, Finn O'Brien puts the accident behind him until a misdirected insurance settlement, a federal investigation, and an arrogant ATF agent pique his curiosity and provoke his anger. The explosion was no accident, the people on board had histories, and Finn O’Brien’s assistance in the investigation is not wanted. Unable to find justice, Finn goes rogue, incurring the ire of everyone while his investigation leads him through a deadly labyrinth created by big business and personal passions. In the end Finn discovers that his life, and the lives of those he loves, are in the hands of a distant and deadly relation.”


“Rebecca Forster will try anything once, but when she was dared to write a book she found her passion. Now a USA Today and Amazon best selling author with over 40 books to her name, Rebecca is known for her keen ear for dialogue, three dimensional characters, an eye for detail, twisted plots and unexpected endings.”


As the fifth book in Rebecca Forster’s Finn O’Brien series there are a few things that every book has in common. Finn O’ Brien, his partner Cori Anderson, and an entertaining story that is never what you expect, with each one going somewhere totally unexpected. This one starts with a bang (quite literally), and involves Finn stepping on a few toes, digging into something that isn’t his job to investigate. Wondering who (if anyone) was responsible for the bad things that set Finn off and whether Finn or anyone else will be able to figure out who this was and bring them to justice kept me engaged and guessing to the very end.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK


Although the fifth book in the Finn O’ Brien series, each book stands alone well enough that reading of the prior books isn’t needed to understand the story in this volume.

Format/Typo Issues:

Review is based on a pre-release ARC (advanced reader copy), so I can’t gauge the final product in this area.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Review: Deacon Blues by Karl G. Trautman

 Genre: Political fiction/Coming of Age


Jolted by an arrested adolescence, Manfred Schmidt is a lonely teenager who craves for belonging and respect. His unconscious rage and forming identity are fused together at a time when a new leader is offering hope to a troubled, post-Watergate nation. He takes on Jimmy Carter as his hero, offering hope to his evolving self.”


“Trautman was born in Madison, Wisconsin and has lived in Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Kansas and Michigan. He has also lived in Afghanistan and Ireland. He currently resides in Maine.”


Things protagonist Manfred Schmidt did:

   1.   Experienced angst when his parents divorced.

   2.   Went to some baseball games and museums.

   3.   Dropped out of college without ever having kissed a girl.

   4.   Did volunteer work for Jimmy Carter’s reelection.

   5.   Watched Carter’s defeat on TV.

The end.

I realize that as a sarcasm one of the world’s great novels could be reduced to “Old man catches huge fish. Shark eats fish.” However, that two-line synopsis implies great struggle, victory, and defeat. Does it imply that struggle is useless or that struggle itself conquers defeat, irrespective of the inevitable?

There are no such implications or questions in Deacon Blues. The struggles run to trying to gin up courage to ask the Carter campaign for a paying job and to invite a girl to a movie. The narrative focuses on Schmidt as a socially inhibited young man; one who is devoid of charm. He is no Holden Caufield snarkily thumbing his nose at imperfections of society.

It would be unduly generous to attribute Schmidt’s devotion to Carter as a metaphor for selfless devotion to good against overpowering evil. Even though Schmidt seems to see things that way, it’s ultimately just politics.

Readers who, for whatever reason, finish the novel will have waded through a morass of excruciatingly banal details.

“The laundry room was pretty basic, with industrial size washers, huge dryers, a few long tables for folding and some metal chairs for sitting.”

Ah, so that’s what chairs are for.

As a positive, Trautman’s writing style is clean, readable and error free.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK


Nothing to note

Format/Typo Issues:


Rating: Three stars

Reviewed by: Sam Waite

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words