Book Review Wednesday – The Coelho Medallion

The book-a-week challenge continues with  The Coelho Medallion, by Kevin Tumlinson.

coelhoIf there’s one thing an archaeologist likes it’s a good dig. The promise of hidden treasure or a historical find that spurs them on. Some do it to satisfy their insatiable thirst for knowledge. Some, for monetary gain. Others, for fame.

But what about terror?

The Coelho Medallion was discovered at a Pueblo research site and is revered as a link to a discovery that has captured the nation’s imagination: the Vikings’ arrival in North America long before Columbus, and that somehow they trekked far inland, where they built a city of gold.

But now the medallion has been stolen. A linguist has been kidnapped. And a sinister terrorist plot has been set in motion.

Dan Kotler, an independent researcher well-connected in the archaeology community, makes it his business to find his kidnapped friend. But before he takes a step he has to deal with the FBI, terrorists, an egomaniacal billionaire, and danger that comes in many forms: all of this before he discovers a plot that may kill thousands, if not millions, and the comes to realize the real city of gold. Kotler is a hero who is easy to like, a James Bond-type who lives by his wits and isn’t afraid to put himself in harm’s way. He’s smart and quick and convincing: handy attributes for a hero. Tumlinson has a winner here. Now with five books in the Dan Kotler series, I’m sure his fans agree.

The Coelho Medallion is an action/thriller with elements of history, archeology and real-world geopolitical consequences. It’s easy to believe this story could happen. It could be happening right now.

And it’s easy to tell from his writing that Kevin Tumlinson loves his subject. And he keeps the action coming. The plot twists are timely and surprising and will keep the reader turning the page. Tumlinson is a thorough writer — at times a bit too thorough — in laying out what’s happening, what the character is thinking, the ins and outs and possibilities of what’s to come, or might come. Tumlinson has a lot of threads to keep track of in this story and he does a good job of keeping track of them all. The Coelho Medallion is a smart tale and a clever one, and it’s easy to understand the appeal to readers who like historic/action-adventure thrillers.

The Coelho Medallion, by Kevin Tumlinson. Book 1 in the Dan Kotler Archaeological Thriller Series.

4 stars out of 5

Available at Amazon as ebook, paperback, and audiobook, and at Barnes and Noble as a paperback.

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Book Review Wednesday – Death Comes for the Archbishop

The book-a-week challenge continues with  Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather.

DCFTAThere are some books that hover around the edges of one’s good intentions — well-meaning notions of finally starting or finishing a novel, even if decades account for the interim.

Family trips at a young age introduced me to the American Southwest. After growing up in Ohio my family moved to Kansas. It took years for me to appreciate the prairie, the Plains, and the West, unexplored by me until a much later age. Interest in novels set in such places eventually took hold.

I think readers discover some authors because of a shared link. For me, I learned of and read about Willa Cather partly because of her life on the Nebraska prairie, but also her life in journalism before turning her full attention to writing. One book that intrigued me was Death Comes for the Archbishop; I was curious how Cather could fictionalize a bit of history lost in the sweep of the American experience.

In the novel, one consequence of the Mexican-American War was the newly acquired territories became reorganized, and the responsibility of ministering to the Catholic faithful fell to the Church in the United States. Diocesan maps were drawn reflecting the change. One such change was the creation of a vicarage of Santa Fe in the New Mexico territory. Death Comes for the Archbishop is the story of a missionary priest who takes on the burden of traveling to Santa Fe to guide the faithful in the deserts and mountains throughout New Mexico and Arizona.

In this engrossing tale, our archbishop, Father Latour is joined by his fellow Frenchman, priest, and friend, Joseph Vaillant as they seek to fulfill their duty as missionaries in an inhospitable land. Latour’s is a questioning heart, wondering if he is up to the task of saving souls and building a church in a vast country only biblical heroes might recognize. His story unfolds bit by bit, and what a magnificent story it is.

Cather’s narrative is at once ecclesiastical, historical, anthropological. It is an amazing feat of describing a world that was, and no longer exists. Published in 1927, Death Comes to the Archbishop is a look back to a time that would have ended when Cather herself was a small pioneer child on the Nebraska Plains. In the present day, it is as if the novel has become more than fiction. It is a time capsule and a treasure.

A reader can embrace this novel for no other reason than to learn of the Hopi, the Navajo, the Mexicans who scrape out a living in such a harsh land. Cather’s characters are memorable: Mexican priests who refuse to acknowledge Latour’s authority as bishop, devout families respectful of churchmen, and proud indigenous peoples who show Latour and Vaillant their customs and ways and exhibit a grace and generosity the men come to respect.

Cather’s literary gifts include a mastery of pace and tempo, regular as a heartbeat, and a use of a language so full in description one can almost feel the heat, the rain, the dust, the wind, and witness the Old World clashing with the New. But key is the story of how change rules the novel. It runs like a current through time. From the remnants of the conquistadors to the American presence, the soldiers, traders, fortune seekers, and outlaws, to the natives who see their way of life diminish generation after generation. There is change, but there also is what remains: devout people who express their gratitude in ways that make everyday life bearable, existing day to day, enduring hardships, and exulting in small gifts life, and faith, occasionally deliver.

Death Comes for the Archbishop (Annotated Edition) by Willa Cather.

5 stars out of 5

Available in all formats everywhere.

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Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Lieutenant Columbo and Kurt Wallander and you have an interesting character in Sato and a thrilling new series set in the heart of Tokyo. And click here for your copy of The Gangster’s Son, The Thief’s Mistake, Traitors & Lies, or Cat’s Meow at a special discount you’ll find only at this site. To get the latest Shig Sato news and previews, check out Shig’s Readers Club — you’ll get a free copy of Tokyo Summer, the exciting Shig Sato prequel that tells the story of the events that led up to The Gangster’s Son. No obligation. Shig insists.

Book Review Wednesday – Return to Hiroshima

The book-a-week challenge continues with  Return to Hiroshima, by Bob Van Laerhoven.

 

“Memory is a monstrous thing.”

 

HiroshimacoverIt is the memory of events real or imagined that accelerates Bob Van Laerhoven’s grisly Return to Hiroshima to the first rank of macabre noir. Return to Hiroshima could stand alone as a work of horror. Or post-apocalyptic dystopia. Hiroshima since August 6, 1945, certainly qualifies.

Van Laerhoven’s mastery of his subject and his flawless maneuvering through Japan’s unique past make one forget the depth of his narrative. There are many layers to Return to Hiroshima, and Van Laerhoven’s gift is crafting many intriguing subplots to create an energetic whole. But ‘layered’ is not quite right. Like an iceberg, a predictable part of Japan is visible for anyone to see. But beneath the surface lies mortal danger. And Van Laerhoven bravely plumbs those depths, for what’s underneath is a separate universe. What’s unsaid. What’s unaccounted for. Secrets no one admits to. Furious, revengeful rages hide beneath cool facades. Unspoken but understood conspiracies feed quests to right ultimate wrongs.

But whose catastrophe? Which people? Ultimately, Return to Hiroshima is a thriller, set in motion by a tormented woman determined to escape her past, explaining away her grotesqueness by being a daughter of hibakusha – survivors of the atom bombing. By a Belgian man who returns to Japan to come to grips with the death of his sister. By a Japanese son of privilege bent on sadistic pleasure. By a tortured half-Dutch, half-Japanese police inspector who cannot reconcile his past. By a criminal overlord determined to resurrect Japan’s past glories. And what propels Van Laerhoven’s narrative are the winds of Nationalism. Militarism. Nihilism. Anti-modernism. Mysticism. Myth.

“In the train to Hiroshima, I leaf through the old diaries I have taken with me from Hashima Island. On May 8th, 1988, I’d written: ‘Rokurobei hunts at night. Do not underestimate the demon’s power. When his victims hear his footsteps and see his long neck, it’s too late. He seduces if he can, kills if he must. Although his gentle nickname for me as a child was Aonyobo, a singing female spirit that haunts abandoned imperial palaces, it would be a mistake to overlook the Serpent Neck’s true nature, his capacity for violence.’”

There are times when myth and monsters are the only way to explain the inhumane in us all. And at the heart of Return to Hiroshima, longing turns violent, dreams morph into their own violent realities, and memories prove to be unworthy of trust. Yet the desire to return endures. To return. And return again. Memory is a monstrous thing, indeed.

Return to Hiroshima, by Bob Van Laerhoven, Crime Wave Press.

Five stars out of five.

Available at Amazon as ebook and paperback, at Barns & Noble as a paperback.

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Check in every week for Book Review Wednesday. I’m reading and reviewing a book a week throughout 2018. Join me. Authors, if you have a book you would like reviewed, send me an email at joe@josephmarkbrewer.com.

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Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Lieutenant Columbo and Kurt Wallander and you have an interesting character in Sato and a thrilling new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s SonThe Thief’s MistakeTraitors & Lies, or Cat’s Meow. And check out Shig’s Readers Club to get a free copy of Tokyo Summer, the exciting Shig Sato prequel that tells the story of the events that led up to The Gangster’s Son.

Book Review Wednesday – Jukebox

The book-a-week challenge continues with  Jukebox, by Saira Viola.

JukenboxcoverThe midnight characters that populate Saira Viola’s stunning Jukebox are a nasty sort. The daytime characters aren’t much better. Nick is a fresh new lawyer who wants to run his own record label. Mel is a dodgy entrepreneur with one foot firmly planted on either side of the law. Avery is a junior reporter with embryonic savvy looking for the story that will make her name. These three collide in the boardrooms and backrooms and clubs and streets where London hustles. It is an engaging, stylish romp.

“He was hush puppy sweet, unaccustomed to speaking to such a copacetic crowd.”

“He fretted, his wiry locks had shot up in a wiry frizz all over his temple making him look like a frazzled cartoon loon.”

“As far as he knew, Faces was a Hoddeson dive playing wall-to-wall smoove groove rammed with toilet chic babes hooked on Malibu and Pineapple, prinked up on Primark not Prada.”

Viola has in Jukebox an imaginative, blisteringly quick ride through London above ground and below. Memorable characters even more memorably described: morals tucked in hip pockets, their con on for all to see, and they don’t care. Her storytelling is pure and made better by a literary technique she calls sonic soundscript. In an interview with Mark Ramsden she explains: ” Sonic soundscript is a literary idea I came up with as a poet that points to sound and rhythm: She was a wiggle and a giggle chick with a slut bomb bounce.” One-two-three one-two three bam bam bam. Words and sentences shaped by tempo and percussion. It’s seductive.

But style does not trump substance in Jukebox: Viola’s sharp eye misses few details but they’re not thrown away for the reader’s amusement. Each sentence pushes her narrative around twists and bends through England and elsewhere. How dear a price is Nick willing to pay for his dreams? Where is Mel’s heart in all his darkness? How badly does Avery want to escape her bottom-dweller status to capture the big headlines of the day? What will be revealed when all of Viola’s seductive darkness turns to light?

Those that have read some of my reviews know that reading a novel a second time is a high honor in my reading life. Jukebox is on that list of repeat must-reads. I can see a time when it’s read again and again.

I posted a review of Jukebox on Amazon last year. It said, “Grab on to Saira Viola’s Jukebox with a tight grip – her explosive, captivating imagination will draw you into a tale of greed and ambition written at such a twisting, breakneck pace you won’t catch your breath until the last page. Her cast of characters is original and unforgettable. Grit, greed, drugs, sex, gangsters, lawyers, reporters all combine for a cautionary tale in Viola’s inimitable prose – dark and dangerous, light and comedic, deft and stylish. This is the stuff of a debut novel, and I want more. Highest recommendation.”

To that I can only add: get your copy now. You won’t regret it.

 

Jukebox, by Saira Viola.

5 stars out of 5.

Available as an ebook and a paperback at Amazon.

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Check in every week for Book Review Wednesday. I’m reading and reviewing a book a week throughout 2018. Join me. Authors, if you have a book you would like reviewed, send me an email at joe@josephmarkbrewer.com.

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Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Lieutenant Columbo and Kurt Wallander and you have an interesting character in Sato and a thrilling new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s SonThe Thief’s MistakeTraitors & Lies, or Cat’s Meow. And check out Shig’s Readers Club to get a free copy of Tokyo Summer, the exciting Shig Sato prequel that tells the story of the events that led up to The Gangster’s Son.

Book Review Wednesday – The 9th Hour

The book-a-week challenge continues with The 9th Hour (A Detective Temeke Crime Series Book 1) by Claire Stibbe.

9thHourAlbuquerque cops have seen it all, but nothing like the serial killer aiming for teen girls. And the cops at the Northwest Area Command have seen nothing like Detective David Temeke. British, Ethiopian descent, Temeke immigrated to the U.S. to escape cold, wet England. Bald, muscular, handsome, skin darker than tar, Temeke is all business. Problems with colleagues at Homicide sent him to Northwest. Seven dead teen girls are part of the reason why.

So begins Claire Stibbe’s The 9th Hour. It is a police procedural par excellence, a serial killer tale quite gruesome in detail but thoroughly compelling. If it wasn’t so well written, so captivatingly smart and imaginative, it could have been a bloody mess. It’s not. Attention to detail is what makes a novelist a cut above, and Stibbe’s sentences have a life of their own. Details make or break a good crime story – it is the details, after all, that lead to the story’s conclusion, especially in a deadly cat-and-mouse, serial killer vs. police game. This has fine writing, intriguing characters, a clever criminal, and a detective who misses very little. It’s a winning combination.

Temeke is up to the challenge, and he is pleased with his new partner, Malin Santiago, is too. What Stibbe has created is genuine, believable crime-fighting partnership. Neither are perfect and in their imperfections comes the trust they need to work together to catch a demented killer.

And this is a serial killer worthy of the name. Stibbe’s unwinding of the man’s twisted reasons for killing adds layer upon layer of intrigue to what could have been a pedestrian crime book. Relentless pace, excellent plot twists, no wasted scenes, and two compelling characters in Temeke and Santiago. And Albuquerque as the novel’s setting is a character unto itself and adds a bit of luster. Buy this book. Read it. Then read it again. The second helping will taste better. And then you’ll want to read more Detective Temeke crime novels. Believe me.

The 9th Hour (A Detective Temeke Crime Series Book 1) by Claire Stibbe.

5 stars out of 5.

Available at Amazon as email and paperback, ebook at Kobo, paperback at Nook.

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Check in every week for Book Review Wednesday. I’m reading and reviewing a book a week throughout 2018. Join me. Authors, if you have a book you would like reviewed, send me an email at joe@josephmarkbrewer.com.

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Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Lieutenant Columbo and Kurt Wallander and you have an interesting character in Sato and a thrilling new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s SonThe Thief’s MistakeTraitors & Lies, or Cat’s Meow. And check out Shig’s Readers Club to get a free copy of Tokyo Summer, the exciting Shig Sato prequel that tells the story of the events that led up to The Gangster’s Son.

Book Review Wednesday – The Dawn’s Early Light

The book-a-week challenge continues with The Dawn’s Early Light: A Mike Elliot Thriller Book 1, Revised Edition, by Lee F Duffy.

DawnsEarlyLightMajor Mike Elliot had drawn what seemed to be good duty, if one considers embassy duty in Tunisia good duty. At least he wasn’t a Special Forces operative anymore. He had enough of that, at too dear a cost.

Elliot had no way of knowing that organizing an evacuation of embassy personnel would lead to security breaches, dead Marines, a hijacking, and Elliot confronted with saving his wife, with him in Tunisia and now a hostage on the plane, while he remained bound and under the watchful eye of terrorists. He knows he has to act. But how?

Duffy places half the action is in Beirut at a time when it was the epicenter of worldwide terror watch, the other half in Cyprus, where he writes a nail-biting narrative too real to not be easily envisioned unfolding on cable news. He leaves no stone unturned: readers get a full dose of special ops, the chain of command, inter-service cooperation, international diplomacy, and the desperate, vengeful, hate-driven acts of terror that are a fact of life in our modern world.

Duffy is a former Army Green Beret and Ranger, and it shows. His attention to detail is extraordinary for any writer, but it’s what you’d expect from someone who wore the uniform and lived to tell tales. The Dawn’s Early Light grips your throat, shakes your attention, and doesn’t let go. Duffy provides enough military for the enthusiasts, enough tension for the thriller fans, and enough what’s-gonna-happen-next for anyone trying to outguess what Duffy has in store. Good luck with that.

The Dawn’s Early Light is the first book in the Mike Elliot Thriller series. Duffy has created a vivid character for our times. I can’t wait to read Book 2, Bombs Bursting in Air. I have to confess: I’ve had this ebook for almost two years in my reader. Everyone has lots to read and no time to read everything, but still. Shame on me for waiting so long. If you like military thrillers or want to take a chance on a new genre, read The Dawn’s Early Light. Don’t wait.

5 stars out of 5.

Available at Amazon  and Smashwords. You can find Duffy’s Amazon page here.

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Check in every week for Book Review Wednesday. I’m reading and reviewing a book a week throughout 2018. Join me. Authors, if you have a book you would like reviewed, send me an email at joe@josephmarkbrewer.com.

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Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Lieutenant Columbo and Kurt Wallander and you have an interesting character in Sato and a thrilling new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s SonThe Thief’s MistakeTraitors & Lies, or Cat’s Meow. And check out Shig’s Readers Club to get a free copy of Tokyo Summer, the exciting Shig Sato prequel that tells the story of the events that led up to The Gangster’s Son.

Book Review Wednesday – Cold East

The book-a-week challenge continues with Cold East – An Aiden Snow Thriller by Alex Shaw.

ThisColdEastThere I was, reading a story by a Brit about an MI6 operative and everything is going along predictably with Problem No. 1, set in Ukraine. Next thing I know, I’m in New Jersey at a shopping center and some guys are up to no good and BAM! the story catches my interest and takes off of ways that kept my interest to the very last page.

That was when I knew that I was in for a do-not-get-complacent globe-trotting thriller. I should have expected it since it’s the Aiden Snow Thriller series by Alex Shaw, but, I’m just a guy out to discover new books to read and what did I know?

Now I know. Cold East is Book 3 in the Adan Snow SAS Thriller series. And starting with the third volume did not diminish my reading enjoyment. I didn’t have to time consider it. Ukraine, Afghanistan, Russian, America, England, there and back and wait! There’s more! Aiden Snow, his compatriots, and his villains are fully drawn characters that captured my imagination. I could see the story unfold me.

Make no mistake. Shaw writes tight, imaginative prose at a pace any racehorse trainer would envy. It’s almost unstoppable. Any fan of Baldacci or Clancy will add Shaw to their library. Aiden Snow is a spy’s spy, and Shaw’s cast of characters are on equal footing. It’s easy to take them as they come and keep reading. I wanted to know what Shaw and Snow were up to next. Which is why I’ll be reading Cold Blood and Cold Black. Tom Clancy and David Baldacci, move over. Make room for Alex Shaw.

5 stars out of 5.

Available at Amazon. Visit Alex Shaw’s Amazon page for all of his novels, collaborations, and short stories.

 

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Check in every week for Book Review Wednesday. I’m reading and reviewing a book a week throughout 2018. Join me. Authors, if you have a book you would like reviewed, send me an email at joe@josephmarkbrewer.com.

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Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Lieutenant Columbo and Kurt Wallander and you have an interesting character in Sato and a thrilling new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s SonThe Thief’s MistakeTraitors & Lies, or Cat’s Meow. And check out Shig’s Readers Club to get a free copy of Tokyo Summer, the exciting Shig Sato prequel that tells the story of the events that led up to The Gangster’s Son.

Book Review Wednesday – Stolen Gypsy

The book-a-week challenge continues with  Stolen Gypsy by Elizabeth Horton-Newton.

stolengypsyTerza Blackstone never lived in on place long enough to make friends. Her parents never gave a second thought to uprooting her whenever they felt the need. Alone and friendless is never good, especially when being called to the principal’s office to be told your parents died in a crash while eluding police.

The authorities have lots of questions for 17-year-old Terza, but she has more. So it begins in Stolen Gypsy by Elizabeth Horton-Newton. The cops want to know if Terza knows anything about her parents’ activities. She wants to know just who were these people who raised her and why were they running from the law. When the feds step in to try to take charge of what seems to be a local crime, Terza becomes even more suspicious of what is happening, and although she escapes their grasp, she is forced to rely on strangers to help her find her answers.

Horton-Newton weaves a compelling thriller: Terza’s strength is her determination to get answers about her past, to find out who she is, and to make sense of the traumatic events that litter her young life. Equally determined are the two men who risk everything to keep her from harm, a county sheriff’s detective and charming Irishman with a penchant for saving girls in trouble. Terza discovers their help just might be what she needs to get her answers and her revenge. Terza’s parents were involved with serious, dangerous men. High stakes action, life-and-death consequences — this book has it all.

I have read Horton-Newton’s short fiction in Twisted Tales and Crooked Tales, anthologies published by Readers Circle of Avenue Park, and I am a fan. She has the gift of telling a good story, compelling a reader to keep turning the page, and just when you think you have it figured out — well, you don’t.  So you keep turning the page.

What more can a reader ask?

Stolen Gypsy, by Elizabeth Horton-Newton.

4.5 stars out of 5.

Available at Amazon.

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Check in every week for Book Review Wednesday. I’m reading and reviewing a book a week throughout 2018. Join me. Authors, if you have a book you would like reviewed, send me an email at joe@josephmarkbrewer.com.

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Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Lieutenant Columbo and Kurt Wallander and you have an interesting character in Sato and a thrilling new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s SonThe Thief’s MistakeTraitors & Lies, or Cat’s Meow. And check out Shig’s Readers Club to get a free copy of Tokyo Summer, the exciting Shig Sato prequel that tells the story of the events that led up to The Gangster’s Son.

Book Review Wednesday – The Samurai Code – A Hiram Kane Adventure

The book-a-week challenge continues with  The Samurai Code – A Hiram Kane Adventure (The Hiram Kane Action Adventures Book 2) by Steven Moore.

SamuraiCodeHiram Kane lives for adventure. Upright citizen of the world, never shirks danger. World traveler. Friendly guy. Beer drinker. Always manages to get out of scrapes with a little ingenuity and luck. That he happens to be in Japan during natural disaster seems part and parcel of his existence. So does making friends easily. And confronting wrong, too, even if the confrontation is with a yakuza boss bent on revenge.

The Samurai Code is the second in the Hiram Kane Adventure series, and the first Steven Moore book I’ve read. It’s easy to imagine it as a Saturday cinema serial unfolding before you on the silver screen. But to overly simplify the story is to cheapen it, and that’s not fair. Moore’s style is taut, thorough, inventive, and darn entertaining. Cheap it is not. The Samurai Code delves into the complexity of samurai tradition, but it’s more than a primer on bushido. Moore ties together an important historical event to a caper set in modern Japan, and along the way the reader learns a few words and some decent history.

The Samurai Code is a page-turner that makes me want to read what else Moore has to offer. That the author makes no bones about being a world traveler and is an adventure seeker piques my curiosity about what else he weaves into his tales. I’m looking forward to finding out.

4 stars out of 5.

Available at Amazon as ebook and paperback.

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Check in every week for Book Review Wednesday. I’m reading and reviewing a book a week throughout 2018. Join me. Authors, if you have a book you would like reviewed, send me an email at joe@josephmarkbrewer.com.

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Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Lieutenant Columbo and Kurt Wallander and you have an interesting character in Sato and a thrilling new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s SonThe Thief’s MistakeTraitors & Lies, or Cat’s Meow. And check out Shig’s Readers Club to get a free copy of Tokyo Summer, the exciting Shig Sato prequel that tells the story of the events that led up to The Gangster’s Son.

Book Review Wednesday – Graham’s Resolution Book 1 – The China Pandemic

The book-a-week challenge continues with  Graham’s Resolution Book 1 – The China Pandemic: A Post-Apocalyptic Medical Thriller by A. R. Shaw.

GranResBk1Was a deadly virus developed as a vaccine an attempt by the Chinese to protect its population or a weapon against humanity? In A.R. Shaw’s Graham’s Resolution Book 1 – The China Pandemic, the virus unleashed on the world has left 98 percent of the population dead and the remaining 2 percent carriers of the virus. It’s a potent near-future scenario: survivors bury their loved ones, animals revert to their natural hunter state, and the worst of humanity bursts forth in desperate need to survive, or satisfy bloodlusts.

The mathematics professor known only as Graham simply wants to bury his wife and father and escape to his family’s cabin to regroup and retrench to mourn after the worldwide catastrophe. But fate has other plans for him. He agrees to a dying mother’s wish that he look after her 5-year-old son; he saves twin teenaged sisters from a murderous madman, and upon arriving at his cabin, finds an old man and very weak woman already occupying his home. This group of strangers form a family of sorts to face the unknown.

Graham’s survival skills are put to the test. Raised by a father who served in the Marine Corps, Graham’s found that his father’s lessons were now his rules to live by. He does not adapt well and change comes hard, but the tough lessons forge a new Graham as he becomes guardian to his brood. Without knowing it, he develops a ‘prepper’ mentality, although he never prepared for the pandemic or any other potential disaster.

This leads to a key element of Shaw’s narrative. A group of local preppers was ready for the pandemic. With no contact with the virus, either as a victim or survivor carrier, the preppers go to great lengths to shield themselves from the contaminated, such as Graham and his newfound family.

Shaw’s multilayered story is intriguing, a what-if played out to the nth degree. It’s not a fast read but it is a page-turner. Each scene, each chapter moves the narrative along and with every added twist, I found myself wondering what else could possibly go wrong. Shaw creates an effective hero in Graham and a despicable villain who collectively are the forces of evil and criminal intent, men preying on the weak to satisfy nefarious needs.

Shaw has created a fine story and allows it to unfold naturally. The message of preparedness is subtle and finely interwoven in the narrative, and never becomes overly didactic or a distraction.  Published in 2103 and ranked in the Top 20 of medical thrillers on Amazon with over 500 reviews, the book has a firm place in its genre and deservedly so. Prepper novels are new to me and as a reader, is not a first choice, but I am glad I read this novel. It is thoroughly entertaining and no doubt a fine setup for the remaining books in the series.

4 stars out of 5.

Available in all formats on Amazon.

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Check in every week for Book Review Wednesday. I’m reading and reviewing a book a week throughout 2018. Join me. Authors, if you have a book you would like reviewed, send me an email at joe@josephmarkbrewer.com.

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Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Lieutenant Columbo and Kurt Wallander and you have an interesting character in Sato and a thrilling new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s SonThe Thief’s MistakeTraitors & Lies, or Cat’s Meow. And check out Shig’s Readers Club to get a free copy of Tokyo Summer, the exciting Shig Sato prequel that tells the story of the events that led up to The Gangster’s Son.