Friday, October 21, 2016

FFB Review: INHUMAN CONDITION: Tales of Mystery and Suspense by Kate Thornton

Back in January 2011, I first told you just how good INHUMAN CONDITION by Kate Thornton was and that you should read it. I am telling you again today. Make sure you also check out the full list of reading suggestions over at Patti Abbott’s blog. It is Friday, but you have work to do.

Sometimes the blurb on the book encapsulates the book in an excellent way. From the back cover of the recently released collection, INHUMAN CONDITION written by Kate Thornton, comes this explanation:

“Human beings tend to fear the things they don’t know, and that is often sensible, given the lurking dangers that confronted our distant ancestors. But sometimes we need to examine carefully the things we think we know: the pet shop owner in town, the teenage girl who lives next door, or the nice man who walks his dog each evening in our neighborhood. The stories in this collection will drive that point home, and perhaps give you reason to re-define the word “'inhuman.'”
As well as define “human.” With a subtitle of Tales of Mystery and Imagination these twenty-one tales set on earth and in space, frequently push at boundaries defining what it means to be human. Frequently the tales are a bit disturbing, not in terms of graphic depictions, but in the meaning of what has happened or will happen thanks to the final twist at the end illuminating the dark working of a character's twisted mind. In nature, the concept of “camouflage” keeps both the hunted and hunter alive in the constant struggle to eat or not to be eaten. That same concept, passed down in the hardwired code of humanity from our distant ancestors is alive and well in these times. Make no mistake—this book is about the hunters hiding in plain sight among us and the prey they seek for a variety of purposes.

The anchor story in the collection is the very good tale, “Nightwatch: Cardenio” (pages 83-154). Using characters and other story elements originally created by Jeff Williams and with his permission as noted, the tale takes the Nightwatch team deep into the Amazon. A research site does not just vanish off the face of the earth in Brazil. But, it has happened and the research site is gone without a trace. It is now to the team to figure out what happened and why in this adventure tale.

Author Kate Thornton creates a sort of whiplash effect for the reader several times in this collection and this is a case in point. After the above noted adventure tale deep in the Amazonian jungle, she follows it with “Cell Phone Call” starting on page 155. In five short pages, the author makes parental nightmares all too real and leaves readers, at least those of us with kids, thinking twice about using our cell phones in public.

That story is followed by “Vinnie's Cargo” and readers are back to adventure and suspense. In this one, there are shuttle runs between the Moon and Mars in the unspecified future. Despite the rules and regulations, where there are humans involved there will always be some who attempt to move contraband and make some ill-gotten gains. Usually, nothing good can come of some attempts and that may, or may not, be the case here. 

And so it goes through the entire book that contains both previously published and credited work and new. Author Kate Thornton consistently delivers through the entire book as each and every single story is a good one. That rarely happens.  Whether it is late in the collection with the very disturbing mystery “The Eyes Never Change” or the strangely amusing science fiction tale “One of the Family” or any other, the read is constantly good and full of rich details in settings, characters, and storyline.

Not only is Kate Thornton to be congratulated, so too is the publisher. Denouement Press is an imprint of Wolfmont LLC owned and operated by Tony Burton. Known as a publisher of anthologies and cozy style mysteries, this is a new venture for the publisher and reflects the kind of book that might not have been published by Wolfmont before. 

One hopes this is not the last collection released by Kate Thornton. Simply put, INHUMAN CONDITION: Tales of Mystery and Imagination is a very good book and one well worth your time and money.

INHUMAN CONDITION: Tales of Mystery and Suspense
Kate Thornton
Denouement Press (Wolfmont LLC)
September 2010
ISBN# 978-1-60364-033-6
310 Pages

Paperback copy provided by the author in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2011, 2016

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Little Big Crimes Review: When You Wish Upon A Star by Colin Cotterill

Little Big Crimes: When You Wish Upon A Star, by Colin Cotterill: "When You Wish Upon A Star," by Colin Cotterill, in  Sunshine Noir,  edited by Annamaria Alfieri and Michael Stanley, White Sun Bo...

Catherine Curzon and "The Scandalous Lady of Coburg" at Suzanne Adair's Blog

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Spinetingler Magazine Western Wednesday: Interview with Icy Sedgewick

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Do Some Damage: Outsiders author vs Twitter: Stay gay, Ponyboy

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Review: See Also Deception: A Marjorie Trumaine Mystery by Larry D. Sweazy

October 1964 and for Marjorie Trumaine the unthinkable has happened. No, her beloved Hank is still alive, paralyzed, and holding his own. He still wishes that he had died in the shotgun accident, but she is thankful he is still around. Despite the brutal events in See Also Murder, life on her farm in rural North Dakota has continued and she is managing to hold things together. The Knudsen boys, Peter and Jaeger, continue to be a huge help to her, but they can’t make the rains come. Rain is the lifeblood of any farm and Marjorie needs it to rain. Indexing helps pay the bills, but that job can’t totally support the farm.

Unfortunately, her powers to hold things together are tenuous at best and do not extend to the town library. Calla Eltmore, librarian resource when Marjorie has a question as well as a longtime friend, has been found dead at her desk in the Dickinson library. Marjorie is devastated by the news and can’t believe it. Not only the fact that she is dead, but the police seem to think it was by suicide.

Despite voicing her misgivings, she can’t seem to get anyone else to listen to her. Even when she spots a clear clue that the police should have figure out.

The death of Calla is one of several storylines at work in this complicated and very engrossing read by author Larry D. Sweazy. Building on the character of Marjorie Trumaine as well as several other ones, a complicated mystery read full of rich details is constructed. Readers are again exposed to the difficulties of rural farm life in the early 60s in North Dakota, Marjorie’s duties as an indexer, living in a place where everyone knows your business day and night, and numerous other themes and angles in this complicated mystery. See Also Deception: A Marjorie Trumaine mystery building on the first book and is a very worthy second book in this intense mystery series.

Highly recommended, as is the first book, See Also Murder. Because those events are referenced in this read, it is also recommended that readers new to this series start with the first book.


See Also Deception: A Marjorie Trumaine Mystery
Larry D. Sweazy
Seventh Street Books
May 2016
ISBN# 978-1-63388-126-6
Paperback (eBook format available)
270 Pages

Both the author as well as the publisher, Seventh Street Books, supplied review copies for my use to read and review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mystery Fanfare: Halloween Crime Fiction: A List

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Pulp Hack Confessions: An Alley that Plunges directly into the Gutter!

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Review: Crooked Roads: Crime Stories by Alec Cizak

Published in 2015 by All Due Respect Books, Crooked Roads: Crime Stories by Alec Cizak features fifteen previously published short stories. Published in print and online the tales reflect flawed characters, crimes of various types, and situations where there are no easy answers.

“The Space Between” starts readers off with a very short tale about the relationship, as well as the lack of one, between the cashier and the customer. She spoke in clichés, but for the narrator, his life is also full of clichés.

The guy known as “Bump” had never seen somebody die until Kristos put the shotgun deep into Hector’s mouth and pulled the trigger. Now it is supposed to be Bump’s turn to kill in “Columbus Day.” All that was supposed to happen was the three of them, if you counted in Sophia who is about as crazy as Kristos, were to bust into a cook house, grab the latest batch, and go back home to watch The Vikings on Monday Night Football. At least, that had been the plan just a couple of hours ago.

Dad always said to never underestimate just how stupid some folks can be and then proved it himself. Living in a trailer park, Neptune Park, isn’t that great. He knows his girlfriend’s dad, Mr. Vaughn, is not happy at all that he is intimate with his daughter, Missy. Sure, she might be working out her issues, but Dwayne likes her a lot and knows the score in “No Hard Feelings.”

It is January and the rains have come to Wilshire Boulevard. For Rex Burris, who relies on the generosity of others, the rains are a bad thing because folks don’t give when it rains. In “American Chivalry” Rex has a plan for the Korean wives on the 20 bus if he can get enough space change to get on the bus in the first place.

The short Mexican is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Though he doesn’t know it yet as “Dumb Shit” begins. Donny and his friend, Smitty, lost their roofing jobs to Mexican workers that worked far cheaper for the contractor, Jimbo Pincer. Donny is mad at everyone in the world. It never is a good thing when Donny is mad.

She’s alone, drinking, and has a .32 in her purse. She also has a story to tell in “Spare Change.”

Bud Gorski has a wife he can’t make happy and a night job at Liberty Steel that does not pay enough. The strike has not helped things at all. Ron feels bad for him in “Sate Road 53” though he does not feel bad enough to stop seeing Bud’s wife, Lynn.

Stan Dillon does not normally go for blondes and then she walked into the bar. As a cop, he knows a hooker when he sees one. In “Patience,” the hooker of the same name has a friend, Finesse, and a place, if he is willing. Off duty and male, he is definitely willing to go with her to the Ramada on Wilshire.

The two guys that are friends of Katy’s dad showed up wearing ski masks. They gave her a blindfold and put her in their car. She wanted to see Billy get his in “Katy Too.”

“My Kind Of Town” features Jenna and Tom who have a plan for their future. Tom’s wife Maggie is not part of that plan. Neither is his gas station.

Enrique Paz has been trailing the guy on foot for a while now in “A Matter Of Time.” Paz was supposed to be meeting a couple of white guys from West Hollywood to sell them some meth before this guy earned his attention. The fact went he into a church isn’t going to save him.

Debbie had seemed fine when she left after having drugs and sex with Ethan though she did not tell him where she was going. In “Methamphetamine And A Shotgun” Ethan has decided to go outside and see the day. He has also decided it is a good idea to take his shotgun.

She needs a payphone and that has proved to be a bit of a problem in “Little People.” She could use her cellphone, but that would create a record. A record of the call could link her to the guy in the trunk of her silver Lexus.

Harold showed up early at Nicole’s place in “A Moral Majority.” He has a problem and a sin to confess. If the congregation finds out, they won’t be happy. He needs advice and a solution to a terrible problem he has created.

“The Ralphs At Third And Vermont” used to exist before the riots. It burned. What happened to Charlie, who used to carry folks groceries, is the point of this tale that shifts back and forth in time.

The tales in Crooked Roads: Crime Stories are all good ones. These previously published stories feature a range of characters, emotions, and situations that create a dark atmosphere full of vengeance and violence. Nothing is simple in these tales whether it is the plan for survival, the reason for the situation, or the actions by anyone involved. Published by All Due Respect Books, the short stories contained in Crooked Roads: Crime Stories by Alec Cizak live up the title and then some. In a number of cases, the road is not just crooked, but pulverized into sharp channels that rip your soul.

Crooked Roads: Crime Stories
Alec Cizak
All Due Respect Books
May 2015
eBook (print format available)
184 Pages

Material was purchased in August 2015 to read and review by way of funds in my Amazon Associate account.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016

Monday, October 17, 2016

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Ten Writing Tips (The Strand Magazine)

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Ten Writing Tips (The Strand Magazine)

Boppin' at the High School Hop by Bill Crider (RevolutionSF)

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Author Interviews: O’Neil De Noux and Hold Me, Babe (This Is Writing Site)

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A Writer's Life....Caroline Clemmons: HIGH STAKES BRIDE ON SALE WITH A NEW COVER!

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TEXAS BOOK LOVER: Monday Roundup: TEXAS LITERARY CALENDAR 10/17-23: Bookish events in Texas for the week of October 17-23, 2016:  Special Events: Abundance Dallas: 2-Day Women's Event Exploring Suff...

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Ed Gorman has Passed

I learned earlier today by way of Bill Crider's blog that Ed Gorman died yesterday.

I never had the privilege of meeting the man. Most of our contact was by way of the occasional email which started shortly before Sandi underwent her stem cell transplant. While she was in Florida going through it and just after she came back he called me to share his own experiences and to buck up her morale as well as my own. Those calls and emails meant more to us than he will ever know.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Carol, his family, and friends who knew him far better than we did. He is truly missed.

Saturday, October 15, 2016


TEXAS BOOK LOVER: Review: THE ROAD TO LLORONA PARK by Christopher Ca...: I reviewed The Road to Llorona Park (Stephen F. Austin State University Press) by Christopher Carmona for Lone Star Literary Life . This...

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Django Zorro -- Quentin Tarantino (Author), Matt W...

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KRL This Week Update for October 15, 2016

Up in KRL this morning a review & giveaway of another Halloween mystery, "Death by Pumpkin Spice" by Alex Erickson

Also up a review & giveaway of another perfect mystery for your Halloween reading, "Paws and Effect," a Magical Cats mystery by Sofie Kelly

And a review & giveaway of yet another mystery perfect for your Halloween reading, "Death of a Wolfman" by Susan Boles & an interesting interview with Susan

We also have another Halloween mystery short story, this one by Bill Cameron

And a review & giveaway of "Body on the Bayou" by Ellen Byron along with a fun Halloween food guest post by Ellen

And a review & giveaway of "A Most Novel Revenge" by Ashley Weaver

For those who like some zombie with their mystery, a review & giveaway of "Lizzie Borden, Zombie Killer" by C.A. Verstraete

And on KRL Lite a review & giveaways of "Midsummer Night's Mischief" by Jennifer David Hesse, another great mystery for your Halloween reading!

Happy reading,

KRL is now selling advertising & we have special discounts for
mystery authors & bookstores! Ask me about it!
Mystery section in Kings River Life
Check out my own blog at

Review: Robert B. Parker’s Debt To Pay by Reed Farrel Coleman

Late summer and Paradise, Massachusetts has been pretty calm. The biggest issue has been some petty vandalism. For Police Chief Jesse Stone the break from anything significant has been good as he is a bit preoccupied with his personal life. On the plus side, there is Diana who is becoming increasingly important to him and the feeling seems to be mutual. He is also working on his sobriety and making a definite effort to resist the deeply ingrained ritual of drinking.

On the negative side, Jesse is coming to the realization that his diamond skills are diminishing. Age does that to all ball players and there comes a time when the player can no longer compete at the level he or she set for herself long ago. There is also the fact that Jenn is getting married again and has invited him to her wedding to Hale Hunsicker down in Dallas. The wedding is set for October and after a lot of thought about their past Jesse has decided to tell her he won’t be there.

His plan to skip the wedding begins to change when Vinnie Morris contacts him about the sudden death of Gino Fish. The mobster supposedly killed his current male secretary and then himself. That is what the Boston police believe and they are not about to listen to anything Vinnie has to say. Vinnie does not believe that Gino would have done either act despite the fact that all the evidence seems to indicate that is exactly what happened. He wants Jesse to look into it and is calling due the favor Jesse promised Gino awhile back for his help on a case.

Jesse agrees to look into the situation. He soon realizes that the serial killer they know as “Mr. Peepers” is back and seeking vengeance. He plans to kill everyone on his payback list while playing an elaborate mid game with them. It isn’t enough to just kill those he holds responsible. He wants to hurt them first by killing those they care about. For Jesse, that means Diana as well as Jenn down in Dallas are at high risk.

Shifting in character point of view as well as by location, the chase for Mr. Peepers goes from New England, to Dallas, and back again. Readers know from nearly the start as they spend time with the killer why things are happening the way they do. As a result, this is not a mystery read, but a thriller style read where the hunt is on for the bad guy before he can kill again and again.

Debt To Pay is also a turning point novel for several of the characters including Jesse. Even if one had not read the recent interview with author Reed Farrel Coleman, it is clear that some things are being wrapped up to start Jesse on a new course. By the end of the read, it is clear that nothing will ever be the same.

As one expects there will be complaints from some that this novel does not read exactly like it would if Robert B. Parker was still doing them. It does not. It comes very close and does so while creating a highly entertaining read that continues the series.

Because numerous events that occurred in Blind Spot are referenced and heavily discussed, as they are a major plot point of Debt To Pay, I would suggest reading that book first. I would also suggest reading the very interesting interview, You Don’t Ask a Praying Mantis Why: MysteryPeople Q&A with Reed Farrel Coleman , after reading the book as there are things in it that could be construed as spoilers.

Robert B. Parker’s Debt To Pay
Reed Farrel Coleman
G. P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Random House LLC)
September 2016
ISBN# 978-0-399-17143-7
Hardback (also available in large print hardback, audio, and eBook formats)
352 Pages

I won the book via a contest at Lesa’s Book Critiques.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016