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.

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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.

NewAllBooks20184FB

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.

Bluebonnets and Book Deals!

I wanted to check in with you to let you know what’s been happening. In a word: Lots! A lot of writing and planning the rest of the Shig Sato series. In a few weeks, I’ll have some chapters for you to peruse – and I love feedback! So don’t be shy about telling me what you think.

I’ve lived in Austin, Texas, for a little more than two years now and it’s been great. Right now is Texas Bluebonnet time. The wildflowers here are amazing, and one thing many people do is take their picture with bluebonnets.

Since I am definitely camera-averse, I’ll skip that part, but here’s a little something of what I mean. (photo courtesy Dallas Morning News)

bluebonnetDMN

Another thing that came up recently is the U.S. News & World Report Top Cities. Austin is No. 1 for the second year in a row. Here’s the link. I’ve lived in many cities thanks to my journalism career, including New York, Chicago, and Tokyo, and I can tell you Austin has it all on a scale that makes everything accessible and affordable. There’s a vibrant dining scene here, and the music is second to none. Come for a visit when you can!

Along with ‘mapping out’ the remaining Shig Sato mysteries, I have been posting book reviews on my blog. One review was for the Alex Vane media thriller The Anonymous Source by my friend A.C. Fuller. It’s a read I’d highly recommend. In fact, this Sunday, April 15, he’s having a sale on two of Alex Vane media thrillers – US and UK only. The Anonymous Source finds Alex in a media conspiracy that goes back to 9/11, and in The Inverted Pyramid, he attempts to untangle a web surrounding a dead hacker and an attempt to rig the 2004 election.

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Remember: Today! Sunday, April 15, one day only – each book will be 99 cents – just click!

In the meantime, be well and good reading.

All the best from me and Shig,

Joe

 

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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 – Connected: The Shift

The book-a-week challenge continues with Connected: The Shift by Michelle Medhat.

ShiftCoverConnected: The Shift is a continuation of Connected: The Call, Michelle Medhat’s excellent multilayered lightning-quick thriller that is so much more than spies and treachery. Together, the two books make for one long entertaining yarn, served in short, easily digestible chapters. I’m glad the books are offered one after the other. It gives a reader a chance to stop, take stock, breathe, and then jump in again after recovering. If you’re up for a long go, though, you won’t be disappointed.

Connected: The Shift has the horsepower to deliver the themes hinted at in The Call. What did Ellie Noor see that caused her to scream that day in March that caused her husband Sam to confess he’s an MI6 agent, and to raise alarms in the British intelligence community? Sam’s bosses fear Ellie is a spy, or at the very least an unreliable loose cannon, which is very bad timing for her. The UK and the USA are squaring off against a vicious terrorist group bent on world domination. This offers a cover for personal vendettas as well as state-sanctioned treachery. Ellie and Sam get their fill of both.

But it’s so much more than that, and that’s where Medhat’s brilliant recipe of history, science fiction, and suspense-thriller blossoms into an edge-of-your-chair race to the finish of the book. Really. I am nowhere near a sci-fi/alt universe/fantasy fan. I confess I don’t read much of what ‘s published these days because it doesn’t measure up to what I read in my long-ago youth. It’s probably an old saw, but it’s hard to beat Asimov, Bradbury, and Heinlein. But I am expanding my reach. And I am glad I took the plunge with the Connected books. The other-worldly (other universe) storyline, the techno-thriller and biological warfare themes of the book, are an integral part of The Shift. Medhat has created a universe of which Earth is only a small part, and the entire premise feels right and gives what’s a stake on Earth an extra dimension, or several. Take this plot out of the story and this thriller is so much less. Medhat strikes the right balance. And the ending is worth the ride.

4.5 stars out of 5.

Available at Amazon and Kobo in ebook format. Available at Amazon and Nook in 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.

NewAllBooks20184FB

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 – Connected: The Call

The book-a-week challenge continues with Connected: The Call, by Michelle Medhat

ConnectedTheCall

Ellie Noor finds out very quickly what she doesn’t know can seriously hurt her. A bizarre, dangerous dream becomes second to discovering her husband is an agent for MI6. Sam Noor used his cover in the Foreign Service to do some remarkable black ops, fighting a new type of terrorist organization bent on world domination.
Medhat offers the UK-USA scenario but with the terrorist angle includes the Middle East and, lo and behold, even parts of the American Midwest and Dubai. Although the action takes place mainly between London and Washington and their environs, a reader easily buys into the story of slum dwellers following the mysterious terrorist group al Nadir.
Readers find out al Nadir, for now, has the upper hand against the West. The genius behind the terrorists’ schemes is using nano-technology of a biologically lethal type. Dubious characters populate both the terrorist group and MI6. As tensions mount, moves to up the ante prove to be… something you’ll have to read for yourself in Connected.
Medhat has concocted an intriguing recipe: spy thriller and sci-fi and fantasy, with disturbing scenes any author would be proud to write. She has cooked up an interesting story but doesn’t lose sight that all good stories come down to characters, and Ellie and Sam Noor are just the type of protagonists a reader can root for. She has a great duo in the antagonists as well, and fair warning – The Call ends on a cliffhanger. I’ll have to read Connected: The Shift to find out what happens. I’m looking forward to it.
Connected: The Call, by Michell Medhat
Four stars out of five
Available at Amazon and Nook as ebook, and at Amazon as paperback and hardcover.
An edition combining The Call and The Shift is available at Amazon and Kobo

 

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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.

NewAllBooks20184FB

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 Girlfriend Experience

The book-a-week challenge continues with  The Girlfriend Experience (Matt Bugatti Book 1) by Charles O’Donnell.

ODonnel1Inside the mind of Dr. Matteo Bugatti lives the single-minded desire to break the internet’s most secure code. Which is fine for the naive computer wizard, until the NSA and the Chinese take an interest in his doings. The closer he gets to solving the riddle, the higher the stakes become. Not that he is aware of what’s going on around him until it’s too late, and breaking the code becomes a matter of life and death. For the genius Matt Bugatti, what he doesn’t know can kill him.

Charles O’Donnell has crafted a techno-thriller with enough elements to satisfy the demands of any fan of the genre: nefarious personalities, spy vs. spy, double dealings, temptation, betrayal, trust, and a plot that moves along at a pretty good clip despite a heavy load of deep computer technology that O’Donnell handles masterfully.

The last time I read what’s now called a techno-thriller was The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy’s debut novel. I liked it because I was in the navy and I’m fascinated by surface warfare and submarine technology. Fast-forward 30 years to The Girlfriend Experience. I have no love nor interest for code, software, hardware, or computer science in general, and I have to admit the details O’Donnell includes falls into the ‘skip over’ category of my reading, but that’s just me.

O’Donnell did not sacrifice technology for story, and for that I’m thankful. I am interested in what’s next for Matt Bugatti in Book 2, Moment of Conception. I’m looking forward to finding out.

The Girlfriend Experience, by Charles O’Donnell.

4 stars out of 5.

Available 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.

NewAllBooks20184FB

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 – Blind River

The book-a-week challenge continues with  Blind River, by Ben Follows.

BlindRiverThe last thing Curtis Mackley wants to do is go home to Blind River. An FBI agent, he chose the Bureau over home many years before. But a knock on his door and a summons from his partner, Frankie Lassiter, sends Mackley to his home town. One by one, local teenage girls have gone missing. The local police have asked the FBI for help.

The crimes are only the tip of the criminal iceberg in Blind River. Mackley and Lassiter’s hunt for the missing teens explodes into one crisis after another — more crimes, bloodshed, and vendettas than one town can endure. Mackley’s personal issues and the grief he finds there complicates what’s already a harrowing investigative experience.

About a third of the way into Blind River I went to its Amazon page to read some of the reviews. I could not believe it had (as of this writing) an average of 4.1 stars — 77 percent of the reviews are either five stars or four.

Blind River is a serial-killer murder mystery and a good yarn, and what appears in between the covers would make for a good movie or television series. But far too many things stand in the way of it being an enjoyable read. Follows shows no firm grasp on language or writing for the purpose of storytelling. There is a sense of the plot moving along scene by scene but it’s done carelessly. His descriptions are flat, and a limited vocabulary makes for lackluster reading. A Canadian, Fellows sets his story in New York but does not use American vernacular. His main character is “a fed” but the author shows no knowledge of titles or job responsibilities, procedural issues, or terminology.

Blind River is a clever whodunit with great twists and surprises, but it seems Fellows offered up what amounts to a first draft, with every typical error and mistake. It makes for very frustrating reading. At some point, I hope he uploads a clean version that addresses the many glaring issues. Blind River is a good story held back by a need for a polished and thoughtful revision.

I am breaking my own rule of never writing a review of less than three stars because clearly, Follows has talent. I want to read more of what he writes. But not if the other works are in the same condition as Blind River.

1.5 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 – Out

The book-a-week challenge continues with Out, by Natsuo Kirino.

OUTbookcoverforreviewA wife and mother who works the overnight shift making box lunches finally had enough of a husband who strays, gambles, loses their savings, humiliates her, and displays all the indifference of a stranger. She strangles him, then convinces her co-worker friends to help her dispose of the body and cover up her crimes.

This is the heart of the mystery novel Out, by Natsuo Kirino, but to say that’s what the story is about is wrong. Out is a glimpse into the underbelly of a microcosm of darkest modern Japan. It’s notable for what is absent. Its characters are dark, intense, mystifying, mortifying, desperate, caught in the gears of the terrible machine of survival, day to day, night to night, paycheck to paycheck. Indifferent husbands, recalcitrant children, indifferent bosses, creepy co-workers, and sinister criminals populate the pages. Kirino’s style is direct and unceasing. Just as the reader grasps the implication of one action, another comes, then another, then another.

What’s not to like?

I discovered this morbid gem of a thriller several years ago and finished reading it for a second time the past weekend. Kirino, who came to writing in her 30s and published in her 40s to wide acclaim, wastes no time in describing the miserable existence of a team of food factory workers mindful of quotas and the best position on the assembly line to endure a long, tiring shift. Their day continues upon their return to their homes in the morning to face the demands, slights, and misery of their lives. The incessant need for money is one of the book’s central themes. Bone weariness another. Unwanted attention by a strange man and the humiliation of not being young and pretty are others. Most know how it is to be treated as automatons, cash dispensers, or objects of scorn.

All of this, described in exquisite detail, drives the central theme of the story: one woman had enough. It’s a fatal decision, and her coworkers, the only people she could remotely call her friends, step up, albeit timidly or reservedly. That she convinced her friends to help her, using comradery and bribery, is only the setup to the crime’s gruesome aftermath. The tension quickens as reality sets in. What ensues is dark and occasionally funny, but is also an examination not only of an individual, but a group, and a national, consciousness.

A novelist and a short-story writer, Kirino has won many awards. Out is the winner of the Mystery Writers of Japan Award, Best Japanese Crime Fiction of the Year, nominated for an Edgar award by the Mystery Writers of America. Some of her other works have won the prestigious Tanizaki Prize and the Yomiuri Prize.

But for me as a reader, the one prize that matters above all others, is believing a book is worth reading twice, three times, four times. Few have reached that apex. Out surely has.

Out, by Natsuo Kirino, translated by Stephen Snyder.

5 stars out of 5.

Available in all formats everywhere.

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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.

NewAllBooks20184FB

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.